15 Carry-On Essentials For Adults & Kids

It’s time to fly but what do you pack in your carry-on so that you can enjoy your flight but also keep things simple and easy to manage.  If you are traveling with kids, you might also want to know what to pack in their bags.  So, let’s get to it.  What are the 15 carry-on essentials?

What are the 15 carry-on essentials?



A Versatile Bag

First of all, pick a carry-on that is easy to carry when traveling.  I like a bag that can both be slung over my shoulder or worn as a backpack especially if I am traveling with kids.  I usually pack a smaller crossbody purse inside of my carry-on as well.  

If you are also packing your clothing and toiletries in a rolling suitcase, make sure your carry on is the size of a backpack, briefcase or smaller to avoid extra fees at the gate.


Don’t forget your ID!  Keep all identification like passports and IDs in your carry-on and make it easily accessible along with your tickets so you don’t have to dig through your whole bag at check-in and security.

Travel Documents and Information

Also, keep all hotel and rental car information as well as attraction tickets with you in your carry-on.  In case there’s a delay or your bag gets lost, you want this information with you.


If you have special jewelry or a gift that is valuable or irreplaceable, place that in your carry-on bag.


Keep all medication with you in carry-on luggage.  Make sure if it’s a prescription the label is still intact.  Also, take along over the counter medication like IB Profin for both you and any kids you are traveling with.

Insurance Card

Make sure you pack your insurance card in the event you or a family member gets sick.



Liquids in a Clear Quart Bag

If you pack liquids in your carry on, remember they need to be 3.4 oz or less and in a clear quart-size bag.  Do yourself and the people behind you in line a favor and have that ready to go in an outside pocket so you can grab it easily when you go through security. 

Empty Water Bottle

Pack an empty water bottle to fill up after security.  Airplanes are notoriously dry so make sure you hydrate on the flight.

Antibacterial Wipes

Avoid unwanted germs that could ruin your vacation by wiping down the tray table and armrests with an antibacterial wipe.  Not to mention wiping your hands before having a snack.


Pack a set of headphones.  Most planes have televisions in the seat with a lot of entertainment options.  Airlines often charge for a pair of uncomfortable headphones so bring your own and don’t forget to bring some for your kids.  


In the event you have a delay or cancellation, you will want your chargers.  Pack them in a bag in your carry-on so they are easy to locate and corral.

Books & Magazines

A flight is a perfect opportunity to get caught up on some reading so pack a book or magazine.


Airplanes and airports can get chilly.  Consider bringing or wearing an extra layer in case you get cold.  If you are wearing sandals, consider packing a pair of socks to keep your feet warm.


Many flights still offer a small complimentary snack but airport food can be extremely expensive and limited so shop ahead and bring along your favorite snacks.

Baby Essentials

One time we got stuck overnight in the Denver airport.  I learned they don’t sell baby items like wipes and diapers and had limited complimentary options.  Bring enough diapers, wipes, formula and baby food for a 24 hour period!



What are kid’s  carry-on essentials?

Backpack They Can Carry Themselves

You might be tempted to put all the toys in their bag but if you want them to carry it, keep it light.  Backpacks can get heavy walking in the airport.  

A small rolling suitcase is a good alternative but it can be hard for kids to navigate down the narrow aisles of the plane and often don’t fit under the seat making it hard to access items in flight.  

Charged & Loaded Electronics

At home, our kids have technology limits meaning they can play on their iPads for 30 minutes every day but on travel days they get unlimited use!  As a result, they are very entertained either by the in-seat tv entertainment or their iPads.  

Download a few new apps before leaving home and they will be excited to play.  You can also download shows and movies from Netflix to watch offline, just make sure you do that before leaving home.

Small Bag of Toys

We do pack a small bag of little toys our kids like to play with that would be both good to play with on the airplane, at the airport and on vacation.  Things like a toy phone & purse, a small baby doll, matchbox cars, a deck of cards and colors with a plain sketchpad are good choices.  

I have also linked some more simple airplane favorites below.



Empty Water Bottle

Pack an empty water bottle or sippy cup.  You can even have the flight attendant fill it up with your child’s desired beverage and avoid a spill in your seat.  


Pack a variety of snacks and include some with protein especially for a long day of travel.  Food in airports is expensive and not kid-driven so shop ahead.  Also, pack gum or lollipops for take-off and landing to avoid ear irritation from the change in altitude.

Blanket or Stuffed Animal

If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal pack that in their carry-on.  It will be perfect to cuddle up to especially if the flight falls during nap time.



Just Remember…

You have to carry this bag around for the duration of your travel so make sure you pack all the carry-on essentials and leave the rest at home or pack it in your checked luggage.  Now, that you have your carry-on bag packed you are ready to fly!  Enjoy your trip. What else do you pack in your carry-on?


You might also like…

The Secrets to Simple Travel Packing, read more here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

Let’s Connect | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2021 · Theme by 17th Avenue

%d bloggers like this: