I really respect people who can travel with just a carry-on, but I am not one of them! Even just a weekend up to see my folks involves checked-in luggage, hand luggage and a handbag. I’m not a light packer. And when it comes to long-haul travel, I’m even worse!
I blame my heavy-handed packing on my commitment to making long-haul, economy class travel as bearable as possible. And that means a carry-on packing list that includes warm items for the mid-flight freeze, healthy snacks, moisturisers for every type of skin on my body, freshening up liquids for long layovers and of course, lots of disinfectant products. Here, I’m sharing my ultimate carry-on packing guide.
My Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide
What goes into my carry-on luggage
- My laptop, camera gear and lenses (and any other valuables)
- Travel-sized face wash, moisturiser, hand cream, dry shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash. My absolute favourite travel-sized splurge is the Aesop Boston kit but I also decant my fave products from home into travel-sized bottles
- Makeup bag (Tweezers go into my checked-in luggage)
- Lip balm that’s easy to access throughout the flight.
- Bactroban (apply it just inside your nose to protect you from airborne germs) and hand sanitizer spritzer (spray the arms of your seat, your tray table and your in-flight tv remote when you sit down – trust me on this!)
- A thick pair of socks and a scarf or poncho for the flight freezes as I call them
- A couple of healthy snacks like unsalted almonds, dried coconut flakes or protein bars
- A water bottle, because those tiny cups of water they pass around are not going to help with dehydration. I got onto foldable water bottles thanks to The Blonde Abroad and they save so much space!
- A travel pillow (essential!)
- A fresh top and pair of undies to change into just before landing
- A fully charged mobile charger and cable
- An international plug just in case my laptop dies mid-layover
- For really long flights with particularly long layovers, I’ll pack a fresh pair of clothes that I can change into after a shower (read this post to find out which airports have free shower facilities), a travel towel and a little blanket (why are airports always so freezing cold?!)
10 Tips for packing your carry-on
- Fluids, liquids and aerosols are fine in any size for domestic travel within South Africa, but if you’re flying international, they need to be in 100ml bottles and you can’t travel with more than 1000ml in total
- Remember to place all your liquid containers inside a clear bag with a zip (honestly, I just use a ziplock bag)
- Flights get really cold after a few hours, so make sure to pack a pair of thick socks and a sweater or scarf if you get cold easily
- Flying long-distance is extremely drying on your skin, so it’s best not to wear makeup and rather slather on a layer of ultra-hydrating moisturiser or even a leave-on mask for the flight
- It’s a good idea to start on a good multi-vitamin or a high-dose Vitamin C at least a week before your flight. I normally take something like Airmune for a couple of days before a fight and throughout the trip
- If you’re prone to jetlag (I am!) staying hydrated is vital. I normally drink Rehidrat during a flight and keep a couple of sachets with me during my travels
- I am obsessed with packing cubes and use them to keep everything organised – both in my carry-on and in my checked luggage
- Put your travel towel and blanket at the bottom of your bag, followed by your laptop and other electronics, then your snacks and toiletries
The ultimate carry-on from Escape Society
Escape Society is a South African company that makes beautiful cabin luggage in four different colours; matte black, matte gold, forest green and matte grey. The TSA approved carry-on suitcases have four wheels and can roll 360º and are durable enough to withstand impacts, yet flexible enough to prevent cracks. Best of all: they come with their own built-in mobile charger, so you can keep your phone topped-up at all times. The TSA-approved combination lock means your bag is 100% carry-on approved anywhere in the world.
Escape Society delivers anywhere in South Africa, and orders over R499 are free! They also have a range of leather products, ranging from suitcase handle covers, to luggage tags, passport covers and camera slings. They’re all about the personal touches, and every leather order comes with free personalisation. These make for awesome gifts for travel-obsessed friends. I especially love them as wedding gifts.