If you are like me, you most likely overpack when you travel. I am the kind of person who thinks I need to carry three different notebooks in my backpack incase an idea strikes me mid flight. Luckily, through trial and error over the years I have finally managed to pare down my carry on essentials for International flights.


You Need Less Than You Think

I am the type of traveler who always thinks that I am going to use my time sitting on long international flights to get work done. The truth is that it rarely happens. I have learned that I need to only carry my essentials with me in order to make my carry on lighter and easy to sort through. So I have compiled a list of carry on essentials that will hopefully help you when it comes to packing for your next international flight.

Idea Notebook

I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely going to have ideas. But also that I don’t need to take every active notebook that I have. And I have a lot.


I have compromised by taking only one small notebook in my carry on. It is usually a Moleskine type that is small enough to be tucked into the small pocket of my backpack. It takes up less space but still gives me loads of room to brainstorm and keep notes on my travels. I have been using this cute Kate Spade one most recently, because you know, GOLD.

Phone Charger / Cord

A lot of international flights have usb ports right in the back of the seats. This is great because I don’t have to break out my extra power pack mid air. I do always carry a trusty charger with me though in case of emergency.



There is nothing worse than getting to your destination and having a phone that is out of juice. That is one of the reasons I love my backpack that I am currently carrying, but I will get to that in the future.

I currently refuse to use anything but an Anker charger. In the past, I have tried a lot of different portable chargers  and none of them really measure up. I use both their large power bank along with the lipstick size charger for day outings.



For those times between watching the inflight entertainment and napping, you might as well get in a little bit of reading. Try to use travel time to relax as much as possible and not worry about what work might need to get done. You will thank yourself later. Traveling can be stressful on its own so adding a to do list while you are in flight wont help the situation.

The Kindle Oasis was one of my most recent birthday presents and I am obsessed. I love that it doesn’t have the harsh backlight of a traditional tablet and it is super easy to hold in one hand. The fact that it is waterproof has helped me out on multiple occasions as well. If you are clumsy and spill your alcoholic beverages then this is the Kindle for you.


Travel Pillow

I always thought that people who carried a travel pillow around the airport looked ridiculous. That was until I realized I got much better sleep with one rather than trying to wedge myself up against the window. My pillow is a simple memory foam pillow with a removable microfiber cover. While it isn’t anything fancy, I often get compliments on how soft it looks from fellow travelers.


on the plane with travel pillow and beats

Compression Socks

In order to reduce swelling and fatigue on flights over 4 hours I always carry a pair of compression socks with me. These socks give your feet and calves a gentle squeeze while increasing circulation and reducing the risk of swelling or worse deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and clotting on long flights.

When I use my compression socks I am often the only one in my party that isn’t suffering from swelling after de-boarding. While this may seem like an unnecessary item, trust me, your feet and ankles will thank you. I don’t worry about looking silly while wearing these. Trust me no one cares and everyone else is usually sleeping or worrying about when their next meal is.


Eye Mask

Even if you aren’t sensitive to light while sleeping a quality eye mask can help you get some sleep on overnight flights. I have been on long flights where the bright lights stayed on and were very harsh. Even on overnight flights there can often be lights coming from the galley and other passengers in flight entertainment systems.

Traditional flat masks don’t really work well for me as they seem to let light creep in on the side. Instead I recommend a cupped eye mask. One bonus is that it won’t disturb your eye makeup or press too hard on your sockets like other masks do.


Face wipes

With all the recirculated air on planes as well as any germs that I collect in airports, by the end of the day my face just feels icky. I want nothing more than to wash my face and feel fresh again.

Since carrying all my bathroom essentials onto the plane isn’t possible I found some great face cleaning wipes from Sephora that do a great job. They come in a few different varieties, but I really love the coconut and watermelon as they both smell great.



I keep a smaller pack in my backpack while a larger pack goes in my toiletry case. These are great makeup removers when I am traveling because I don’t always have the time or space for my regular evening skin care routine.


There are about a million reasons that you will need a pair of headphones while you are on a longer flight. I like to bring a pair that has short range bluetooth connection to use with my phone or Macbook, but that also can have a cord to plug into the in flight entertainment system.


My Beats3 Solos do the trick and they are great at keeping out any random noises like snoring seat mates or crying children. I honestly never thought I would be one of those Beats people, but they work great, are versatile and I can easily switch from listening to podcasts on my phone to watching Eat Pray Love on the headrest in front of me.

Travel Blanket

With the exception of a terrible Eurowings flight I always get really cold on longer flights. It is nice to have a clean comfortable blanket that I know will keep me warm.

Some airlines will furnish a blanket and others will even allow you to purchase one. I like to bring along a compact blanket that won’t take up much space in my pack or that will clip right on. I know that it is clean because I can throw it in the regular wash in between my travels.

These are just the essentials I have pared down to. Of course my camera and my laptop take up some space in my backpack which is one of the reasons I have had to choose only the essentials when I am choosing what can go in my carry on.

I am sure you may have a few things that you yourself refuse to leave home without having in your bag. What is the one item that you can’t live without on long international flights?


carry on essentials for international travels

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