What’s in my carry-on bag?

I don’t know about you guys, but I find it fascinating to see what people pack in their travel bags. Everyone has different needs, likes spending time in transit in a variety of ways, and places importance on different items.

So, seeing as I had to pack my bags for an overseas trip (yes, New Zealand counts as overseas!), I thought I would share the things  that I like to pack in my carry-on.

I generally pack the same items regardless of how long I’m going away for. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit! And yes, I’m definitely one of those ‘I might need this’ people who tend to overpack. But, since I’m the poor sod who’ll have to carry it around, it’s fine by me.

In saying that, for this trip I did cut out a couple of items that I knew I just wouldn’t use. I was only going away for four days, and I really didn’t want to burdon myself with the extra weight of my iPad and camera (plus lenses), so I left them at home. But on any other trip I would definitely pack them in my carry-on bag.

My bag

I wish I were one of those glamorous ladies who swan around the airport with their cute totes and luxury handbags, but that’s just not me. My carry-on bag of choice is always a backpack. Currently I’m using this one. I’m a ‘pack more than I need’ kinda gal, remember? For me, a backpack is the easiest option. It’s large enough to carry everything I want, and I find it much more comfortable to carry the load on my back, rather than alternating between shoulders, as you would with a handbag. My backpack also fits easily under the seat infront of me, so I have quick access to my stuff throughout the flight. It’s also a godsend for those trips (read: all of the trips) where I end up buying more than expected, and my suitcase gets too full to cope. I can just chuck an extra couple of items in my backpack, as there’s always quite a bit of room left in there. Have I sold you yet?!

What’s in my carry-on bag?

Now for the good stuff. Here are the items that I always take in my carry-on bag, broken into categories, cos I’m a control freak.

First Aid Kit

It’s not really a first aid kit. Not even close. But I like to have these items with me at all times, just in case:

  • Medication
  • Travel sickness pills
  • Pain killers (Nurofen)
  • Aspirin (in case I feel a migraine coming on)
  • ProCalm
  • Plasters
  • Chewing Gum
  • Perfume
  • Sanitary items
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Lip balm
  • Moisturiser
  • Tissues
  • And a couple of hair ties and bobby pins.


I like to have options when I travel, so I always take these bad boys with me:

  • Kobo
  • Nintendo Switch
  • iPhone (duh)
  • Power Bank
  • Headphones
  • Mini tripod and phone mount
  • Wireless Remote
  • Chargers and cables for all of the above.


I’m not going to get far without any of these things:

  • Passport
  • Wallet/Purse
  • Cash
  • Sunglasses

Other items of interest

I always like to take a scarf or small blanket with me, and maybe a snack or two (in case I get hangry). I definitely make sure to bring a journal or notebook – I find it super helpful to jot down what we get up to each day we’re away. For this trip, I’ve got one of my passport sized notebooks from Midori.

Sidenote: If I was going on a long haul flight, I would also pack a small makeup pouch so I can freshen up on arrival; a travel pillow, and an eye mask.

What do you pack in your carry-on?

Do you go as overboard as me? Or am I doing okay?

And if you’re one of those “glamorous ladies who swan around the airport with their cute totes and luxury handbags”, how do you do it?! Suggestions welcome.

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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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