What goes in my carry-on?

One time it took me 48 hours to get to Illinois from Spain. It was only supposed to be about 21 total hours of travel time from Granada-Madrid-Amsterdam-Chicago-Rockford (a 27 hour layover was NOT part of the plan). Thus, I was missing some essentials while RELAXING (stressing, panicking, fearing for my life) at the airport in Amsterdam and since then I have packed my carry-on bag a bit differently. You could say that I am always prepping to be stranded in Amsterdam (but never again will I fly through Amsterdam in December). This isn’t to say that you will be stranded, but your luggage could get misplaced, lost, taken by someone else by mistake…or on purpose (don’t get black luggage!). Not to mention, valuable things could be stolen out of your bag (keep your valuables in your carry-on!). I have heard my fair share of horror stories. So this is why I pack my carry-on the way I do. Feel free to pack like me, slightly like me, or avoid my advice all together. 

Where to start? An empty carry-on!

You can take a look at my beginners guide to packing to get a general sense as to where to begin with the whole mess of stuff that supposedly needs to make it with you to Europe! Here are some basics of carry-on specific packing:

Start with a carry-on suitcase.
Mine is a Ricardo Beverly Hills Montecito Micro-Light 20″ spinner (that’s a mouthful).
Dimensions: 19.5″ x 14″ x 8″/Weight: 5 lbs, 14 oz.carryon_dexter

Ok ok…like this:IMG_4758

What goes inside?

  1. Essentials (Passport, itinerary, etc)
  2. Electronics or ANYTHING of value (sentimental or monetary)
  3. Toiletries
  4. Clothes/Other

Let me break down my categories for you…

Photos: Left (contents), Right (How I stored the contents)

  1. Essentials (These go in your purse. Your purse can be put in your carry-on or wear it!):
    U.S.A Passport (ABSOLUTELY!…I hope it has your visa inside!),
    Driver’s License
    Credit/Debit cards
    $$$ and €€€
    Cell phone (not pictured)
    Itinerary info (not pictured, SCREEN SHOT IT ON YOUR CELL PHONE!…Most airlines DON’T require a print out…check with your airline though before getting to the airport!)
    *If you are a guy and don’t have a purse, I am going to assume all of these things are in your large guy-sized pockets.
  2. Electronics
    Laptop + case + charger

    Cell phone (will be in my purse!) + charger
    Camera + charger (*if your camera is expensive then carry it with, mine isn’t expensive so more than likely mine will be checked!*)
    **Converters/adapters (USA & EU!!…think…stranded and need to charge your phone, you have the chargers but NO converter/adapter (AWFUL!). Bring these or for  US, EU & THE COUNTRY IN WHICH YOU HAVE A LAYOVER**
    Headphones (I only bring these in my carry-on just in case, I usually sleep on the plane. HOWEVER, I know most people listen to music on the plane, so put yours somewhere accessible (pocket or purse!!)
  3. Toiletries (3-1-1 Rule!) (TOP bag: non-liquid toiletries *BOTTOM bag: Has liquids & has to follow 3-1-1 rule*)
    *=Items that have to be combined to ONE quart sized bag to follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule!
    *Body Wash
    *Lotion (Body & Face)
    *Contact Solution
    *Deodorant (not sure if this REALLY needs to go in the liquids bag…)
    Spare Contacts
    Feminine products
    Glasses Case
    Aquaphor Chapstick
  4. Clothing/Other
    Valuables (expensive jewelry, I don’t have valuable stuff besides electronics/money)
    Hand Towel
    2 Extra underwear
    2 Socks (1 warm, 1 normal)
    1 Sports bra (I hate wearing real bras for extended periods of time/I hate sweating in real bras too)
    1 Sweater
    1 Jeans
    1 Scarf (doubles as a pillow!)
    1 Shirt
    1 Cami
    Winter coat (in a space bag! It’s heavy so I want it out of my checked bag).
    Pair of boots (Again, these are heavy and I want to save space in my checked bag)
    Hydroflask Water Bottle (I get so thirsty when I am flying!)
    A bag (If I want to take things out to put under my seat)
    Prescriptions (for some people missing a pill may not matter, for others it will, this item is easily forgotten)When you are done, your bag should look something like thisClothes_ContentsCONGRATULATIONS! YOU FINISHED PACKING YOUR CARRY-ON!! When you are done, your bag should look something like the picture below! Mine weighs 25.5 pounds (there is no weight restriction). Please note that my LAPTOP and QUART SIZE BAG OF LIQUIDS are both on top. These will have to come out when you go through security! My sweater and water bottle are also on top for easy access!


If you haven’t finished packing and are overwhelmed by this list, please enlist your kitten to help you pack.IMG_4770_

I hope this list helped you! Did I forget anything? What do you bring in your carry-on? Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you want to hear more things like this!


3 thoughts on “carry-on packing list

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