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Carry-on Travel Essentials for Short and Long Flights (His & Hers)

Erin Miller's image
Erin Miller
Erin Miller's image

Erin Miller

Content Contributor

188 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 26U.S. States Visited: 28

An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publicat...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

32 Published Articles 3112 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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At Upgraded Points, we believe a well-packed carry-on bag is key to flying in (relative) comfort. Whether you’re on a quick 45-minute hop or a daunting 9-hour long haul, your essentials are what keep you covered.

That’s why we’ve compiled a “His & Hers” list of some great products we simply can’t do without. From personal comfort items to snacks and hydration, read on to find out what tops our lists!

P.S. If you want a complete travel packing checklist for your trip, or you’re interested in tips and tricks for packing your suitcase, we’ve published a post on that too!

Carry-on Travel Essentials for Him

Carry on Travel Essentials Him
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

1. Alex can’t go anywhere without his Sleep Master Sleep Mask. Silky smooth, cool, and DARK with velcro closure … just sit back, relax, and you’ll be snoozing before you know it.

2. Engine noise? Crying babies? Obnoxious neighbor? These Bose QuietComfort 45 Noise Canceling Headphones won’t let you down. The rest of the world literally just fades away so you can enjoy your movie or music in peace.

3. The Sfee Insulated Water Bottle is double-walled, stainless steel, leak-proof, and sleek as heck. We all know it’s important to stay hydrated while flying, and this bottle will keep your drink cold for hours.

4. Why pay for onboard snacks when you can bring your own? Oberto Turkey Jerky has your back! The flavor is great, there are no artificial ingredients, and it packs a punch at 11g of protein per serving.

5. Of course, no carry-on list would be complete without a Kindle. Don’t forget to pre-load it with your favorite books before you fly!

6. Shout Wipes are a must. No one wants to travel with a great big stain down the front of their shirt! (We won’t mention which UP staff member wins the award for most spills …)

7. The Evolution Neck Pillow might just be the best out there. It’s made of plush memory foam, has a snap in front with drawstrings to provide just the right support, holds your phone, and rolls up into a small handheld pouch to save space. Of all the travel pillows Alex has tried, he’s had the best sleep with this one. We both really love this thing!

8. Tired of looking tired when you hop off a flight? This GinZing Eye Cream from Origins combines coffee beans, ginseng, and magnolia extract to reduce dark circles, banish bags, and curb puffiness. It’s seriously refreshing – we’re amazed every time.

9. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Keep your lips from getting chapped with this soothing Lip Balm from Jack Black. It’s the more subtle stick form of Jack Black’s minty gloss, so you don’t have to worry about it adding a shine.

10. Speaking of minty, these Colgate Wisp mini brushes will freshen your mouth right up after those onboard peanuts.

11. A mess of cords at the bottom of your bag is so unhelpful. This cord/travel organizer by BUMB will help you keep everything tidy and in good working order.

12. An extra pair of socks is never a bad idea, especially when they’re these Merino Wool Bombas. With a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, warm/cool temp variation, and an invisible toe seam, these are the best! Plus, you can feel good about buying them: Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold.

13. There’s nothing we hate more than waiting behind someone who can’t get their mobile ticket to scan at security/the gate, so we travel old-school: we always print our boarding passes. That’s where this Royce Leather Ticket & Passport Holder comes in. Plus, it’s made of top-grain genuine leather … so, there’s that.

14. The second snack we can’t do without is a Power Crunch protein bar. Most protein bars are like a brick: thick and tough to chew. But this light, crunchy treat is pretty much the healthy, protein-filled equivalent of a Little Debbie Nutty Bar. They’re just so good!

Carry-on Travel Essentials for HerCarry-on Travel Essentials (For Her)

1. How sassy is this Sleepy Cottage Eye Mask? You certainly don’t have to sacrifice style to grab some much-needed shut-eye on your next flight. If you’d rather snooze a bit more low-key, try the Sleep Master Sleep Mask. It’s silky smooth, cool, and keeps things dark.

2. The Evolution Neck Pillow is a definite must-have. Its plush outer covering surrounds a memory-foam core, and the snap closure at the front (with drawstrings) allows for adjustable support. Plus, there’s also a side pocket to hold your phone. What you can’t see here is that the pillow rolls up and fits in a small travel pouch to save space (a total win!). Like Alex, this has been my favorite pillow for getting some sleep during long flights.

3. We all know staying hydrated is a must on flights. Good thing S’well makes a line of swoon-worthy water bottles with all sorts of great qualities. Think triple-walled, eco-friendly, and stainless steel. Not only do they come in an array of great colors and patterns, but they’re built to keep your drink cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12).

4. When you’re pressed for space, e-books come in so very handy. That’s why the Amazon Kindle makes it onto almost every travel blogger’s packing list. Just don’t forget to load your books before you fly!

5. Flying can leave your face feeling so “blah.” We love these Simple Face Wipes because there are no harsh chemicals, no artificial perfumes or dyes, and they’re enriched with lots of good vitamins to keep your skin hydrated. Plus, they even make a 7-count pack just for traveling.

6. Speaking of hydration, lip balm is a MUST for our carry-on bags. We’re loving this EOS balm in Sweet Mint with shea butter and jojoba oil. It’s 100% natural, 95% organic, and packed with tons of vitamins to keep your lips quenched for the long haul.

7. Need to freshen up after a long overnight flight? Use these Colgate Wisp mini brushes when gum or mints just won’t do. The freshening bead dissolves in your mouth, so there’s technically no water or rinsing needed.

8. We love having a separate wallet for travel since we’re often carrying different cards or other items during our trips. MochiThings’ Pop Clutch is a great little travel wallet to keep your ID, passport, tickets, and funds all in one place. Snaps allow for a pop-open functionality and it comes in a number of nice colors.

9. Let’s face it, lots of noisy things can make a flight especially awful … or maybe you just can’t hear your movie over the engine. No matter the reason you need some peace, these Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Earbuds will do the trick with their noise-canceling capability. Plus, they’re low profile vs. larger headphones, which helps save space in your bag.

10. When flying, it’s always smart to bring an extra layer in case things get chilly. This gorgeous wool and cashmere pashmina from Norstrom is a fantastic choice for a number of reasons. It can be worn as a scarf or shawl, or (at 75 x 29 inches) can even masquerade as a small blanket. Alternatively, its tissue-weight design makes it easy to fold right up and place in your carry-on like it’s nothing.

11. Every traveler needs a good journal on hand to document their worldly adventures!  We suggest the gorgeous line from Rifle Paper Co. With their soft linen covers and Smyth-sewn binding for durability, the quality is just right (and the size fits nicely too!).

12. No carry-on list is complete without a cozy pair of socks.  Your new favorite? Bombas. Made from extra-long staple cotton with a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, and an invisible toe seam, these socks are super soft and perfect for your next flight. Plus, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold – we think that’s pretty great.

13. Flights don’t just leave you feeling tired, they can leave you looking tired too. Well, not anymore! Origins GinZing Eye Cream is made with coffee beans, ginseng, magnolia extract, and natural brighteners to perk up those peepers. Whether it’s dark circles, puffiness, or bags – this eye cream is up for the battle and you’re coming out on top.

14. Why pay for overpriced food on your flight when you can bring your own? Power Crunch protein bars are our #1 must-have snack. Forget heavy, chewy bars and opt for this light, flakey, triple chocolate goodness instead. At 13g protein, 10g carbs, and 4g of sugar, you really can’t beat it!

Final Thoughts

Why suffer through your flight chilly, hungry, thirsty, bored, etc. when your carry-on could pack solutions? Picking a few favorite products that you consistently travel with can definitely upgrade your flight experience – they’ve certainly made ours more tolerable!

Do you have a favorite travel essential we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.

Have you checked out our piece on the best gifts for travelers? If not, head on over and let us know what you think!

Lastly, if you’re looking to add more “best of the best” travel products to your inventory, we’ve got some great recommendations for you: All Our Best Travel Product Reviews – In One Place.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must have carry-on essentials?

We recommend a great neck pillow and eye shade, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, a great water bottle, compression socks, and a kindle!

What should you not forget in a carry-on?

If you’re flying overnight, you’ll definitely want to remember your eye shade and noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re traveling through the day, you’ll want to prioritize snacks and entertainment.

How do I carry essentials on a plane?

Most airlines allow you to bring at least 1 personal item into the cabin, with some allowing a separate carry-on. You can pack essentials such as electronics, ear plugs, an eye shade, neck pillow, and toiletries in your personal item or carry-on. Just make sure any liquids are less than 3.4 ounces and fit into single, 1-quart clear plastic bag.

What are 5 carry-on essentials for travelers who love to pack light?

Our 5 carry-on essentials would be noise-canceling headphones, a snack, a tooth brush, an eye mask, and a Kindle.

Erin Miller's image

About Erin Miller

An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publications.

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