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The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide

Published: June 12, 2018

Traveling light with just a carry-on has become the most preferred way of traveling as it makes the entire trip a whole lot easier. There is no need of checking in luggage and then worrying about losing it or dragging it along the entire trip. With a carry-on you will have your essential possessions with you at all times and won’t have to worry about leaving luggage behind.


  1. Passport: Without the passport you won’t be able to travel in the first place, so make sure you don’t forget it and also that it’s valid.
  2. Identification: Either a local identifications card or a driving license will serve the purpose of a proof of your identity. Make sure to take the original copies of both.
  3. Tickets/Boarding Pass: If you have an electronic version of either, make sure you have internet access, but it is a good idea to take a print to be o the safe side.
  4. Extra Pictures: Some countries, like Vietnam, require photos upon entry, so it is safer to keep a few extra copies of your passport pictures with you.
  5. Debit and Credit Cards: Make sure to carry a debit card that won’t cost an additional fee each time you either have to withdraw money or charge you an extra transaction fee on your credit card.
  6. Copies of Documents: Make 2-3 copies of your passport, id, boarding pass/ticket, debit and credit cards. Also, keep a virtual copy of all documents on your phone.
  7. Cash: Carry a small amount of money equal to 100 US dollars in, the currency of your destination just in case.


You can skip packing toiletries as they can be bought at your destination. But if you do want to pack some, make sure that you can fit everything in a one-quart bag, and that all liquids and gels are in bottles of under 3.4-ounces or less. Be minimalist and pack essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash and travel sized shampoo, conditioner and soap.


  1. Smartphone, Charger and Local SIM: Carry an unlocked smartphone that will allow you to swap in a local SIM card. Usually, airports have kiosks where you can get cheap SIMs and top up any data, voice and SMS plans. Don’t forget the charger for the phone.
  2. Earphones: Depending on what you prefer, keep a high-quality pair of headphones or earbuds that can work with your phone and other electronics.
  3. Laptop with Charger: If you plan to use one, carry a lightweight laptop along with its charger.
  4. Tablet with Charger: If you aren’t taking your laptop, you can take a tablet and its charger for simple tasks.
  5. Adapter: Carry an adapter that has dongles that can fit different types of plugs from across the world.
  6. Power Strip: To avoid carrying multiple adapters, carry one power strip to charge multiple items at once.


Clothing will depend on your style, the length of your trip and the weather of your destination. The following is to give you a basic idea of what can fit.

  1. Outerwear: If you are going somewhere very cold, keep a thick coat on you or wear it instead of packing. If it only gets a little chilly at night, a hoodie or jumper will do fine.
  2. Tops: 4 short-sleeved shirts and/or 2-3 long sleeved shirts
  3. Bottoms: 2 pairs of jeans/shorts/skirts, 1 pair of workout pants and 1 swimsuit bottom.
  4. Underwear: 6 pairs of underwear and socks, including the ones you are wearing.
  5. Shoes: 1 pair of lightweight, comfortable shoes. Wear the heavier pair and pack the lighter one to save space.
  6. Accessories: 1 cotton or wool scarf you can use in multiple ways, 1 pair of sunglasses and your glasses and contacts if needed.


  1. Carry-on bag: get a bag that suits your style and fits the airline’s guidelines.
  2. Other luggage: you can bring a small satchel, purse or duffel bag for personal items.
  3. Locks: A small lock on your luggage with a key or password will do fine to secure your belongings.
  4. Towel: A small travel towel will work fine as hotel provide bigger ones
  5. Pen/Notebook: To keep any notes and documenting your trip.