Packing Travel

Carry-on Essentials

carry on essentials, carry on packing essentials, how to pack for carry on travel, what to pack in a carry on suitcase

As I mentioned a few times recently, I’ve been on the GO lately. Like, my life has been one destination to the next and pretty much all over the place. And while it’s so much fun, it’s also a lot of work. But since I’ve been promising y’all another packing post series, I figured this was the perfect time to do another one! Since packing is my j-o-b.

Luckily a few of the trips I’ve been on lately are either short enough or low maintenance enough (like Cancun, I pretty much wore bathing suits the whole time and some other easy-to-pack items) that I can get by with a carry-on. So…today I want to talk about carry-ons, specifically carry on essentials. You know, what you need if you’re only bringing one bag – plus your purse, obviously.

Of course there are general tips like bringing travel-sized containers and not bringing every single pair of boots you own, but I’ve gotten this down to a science – and there are some other tricks I swear by. And as far as the physical packing, it’s crucial to pack wisely when trying to fit everything in. I talked about packing tips in my first post that would really apply here, so be sure to read this first!

carry on essentials

carry on essentials

carry on essentials

carry on essentials

Carry-on Essentials: Clothing

OK so obviously it depends on where you’re going, like to a beach, a work trip, or somewhere cold, but there are things to note either way.

  • 1 pair of pajamas: If you’re going somewhere with a carry-on, you can likely get by with one pair of PJs. Bring something – like a set similar to this one – that you’re able to hand wash in the sink if need be.
  • 1 pair of leggings: No matter the weather, leggings are essential. Wear them to workout, run around town, or just lounge in. They are totally multi-functional.
  • 1 pair of sneakers, 1 cute shoe, 1 thin flip flops: Again, you need sneakers to go with your leggings. You can even wear them with denim too now that it’s in style, so win-win! Also, you need a cute pair of shoes that make you feel good. Whether it’s heels or a pair of booties, choose what makes most sense to the majority of your outfits or plans. Lastly, a pair of thin flip-flops can really come in handy and are so thin to pack.
  • Things you can re-wear: Choose stretchy denim that can be worn a couple times, or a dress or cardigan that doesn’t stain or wrinkle easily. Get the most out of what you’re packing.
  • Enough undies and socks for amount of days you’re there. Can’t really skimp here! Use thin socks if possible.
  • Items you can layer (if it’s cold): Instead of bringing a huge jacket, bring a mid-sized one that you can layer over other items. It’ll save you space! Beanies are also a great pack-able option that’ll keep you warm.

beauty carry on essentials

Carry-on Essentials: Beauty

The thought of pairing down beauty products to packing minimally is terrifying at first – trust me, I pretty much have a panic attack every time I have to do it – but it’s doable. It just takes a little prep and a little imagination! It’s also kinda nice because it gives you permission not to worry about things like shampoo and every piece of makeup you own. Here’s what I pair down to:

  • A curling iron or straighter: Hotels or Airbnbs tend to have blow dryers, so I rely on that or just air dry. But I can’t live without my curling wand, so it’s an essential.
  • Face lotion: I use it for my face and body while traveling if my location doesn’t provide it. It’s just easier than two bottles and face lotion is usually in a smaller size naturally.
  • Aquaphor: On shorter trips, I usually skip my fancy eye creams and any face hydration creams and use aquaphor. A little for my lips, around my eyes, and my face stays moisturized without needing everything in my medicine cabinet.
  • Makeup remover wipes: Way easier to pack than face wash, plus great for the plane. I switch between a few different brands, but I think my favorites are the Philosophy ones (they’re super soft + smell nice!) and the Sephora brand Express Cleaning Wipes (for taking my eye makeup off!). I wish there was an easy way to travel with coconut oil (linked my recent fave!) because that’s actually my FAVORITE way to take my eye makeup off but I can’t figure out how to take it with me in an easy, hassle-free way.
  • Hair brush: If I’m really trying to pack minimally, I’ll only bring a wide-tooth comb because it’s so thin. But usually, I don’t go anywhere without a round brush so I can blow dry my hair the RIGHT way and get a longer-lasting blow out (aka make it last longer w/ dry shampoo lol)
  • Makeup: This is more based on your preferences but try to bring multi-tasking products! To keep all my makeup easy-to-use and travel-ready, I use this organizer I picked up at the container store and LOVE (!) it so much!
  • Deodorant: Duh. I don’t know if you caught it, but I did a mini haul on Snapchat (username: brightonkeller) of everything I brought on my recent trip to Vichy, France and I showed you guys which deodorant I use. I was surprised by how many of you asked about it. I use men’s deodorant (ha!) – the Fresh Old Spice one. I need both a deodorant AND an antiperspirant an this one works great. I freaking LOVE how it smells and think it works SO well.
  • Tooth paste (travel size) + tooth brush. Tooth paste is also a great substitute for pimple cream. I promise, it works!
  • Face mask: I don’t always travel with one, but sometimes I’ll throw one in if I know I’ll have some extra getting-ready time on the trip. I love using one to relax before having to get ready or even after a long night out – a nice bubble bath + face mask are one of my love languages. I’m loving several right now, but I just recently used this one by glam glow.
  • Roller-ball perfume: Love this scent at the moment! And so easy.
  • Plastic bag: You don’t need a fancy travel bag to put your beauty stuff in, just use a Ziplock that can be re-sealed. Then, pack it in the middle of your bag so it’s safe! But in all honesty, I’ve been using this cute one I found at Ulta ($12) because the ziplock was starting to gross me out and I wanted something a little more substantial + pretty.
  • Shower Stuff – I use these nifty little travel containers to put my shampoo, conditioner and body wash (because I’m super particular about body wash!)


Carry-on Essentials: Purse or Laptop Bag

OK, so you’ve got your basics covered in your actual carry-on, but thankfully you can also carry a purse. Personally, when I’m traveling with a roller bag, I like to use my lo and sons bag instead of a purse because it holds my laptop and all my in-purse essentials AND it easily attached to my suitcase handle so I don’t have to carry anything on my shoulders. It sorta depends on if you’re traveling by plane or in a car, but I’m going to cover all options just in case. This seems where I need the most items – no matter where I’m going – but luckily everything is pretty small.

  • Chapstick – I’ll forever be a huge fan of burt’s bees because I love how the peppermint stuff makes your lips tingle slash feel chilled! It’s so soothing to me!
  • A scarf: Yup, even if it’s hot! It’s a perfect pillow or blanket while traveling, then it can be used as a park blanket or a cover-up for a bathing suit.
  • Travel doc wallet: I have this one that I carry while traveling because it can fit my passport, credit cards, ID, etc., and it’s a nice place to throw any bag tags. If I’m feeling really prepared, I also make a copy of my passport or ID before hand and put that somewhere else in my carry-on.
  • iPad or Books: Even though I prefer a physical book, I use my iPad when traveling light. I download a movie and a couple books beforehand. It’s just simple. You can even listen to music on it if your phone is tucked away.
  • Headphones + charger: don’t judge me, I’m currently using these headphones because they’re cute (although I’m well aware they aren’t the best quality-wise).
  • Pair of socks (if I’m on a plane because it’s always freezing and it’s comfy).
  • Pen & notebook because I feel like I always have the BEST ideas when I’m on flights! There’s something about the uninterrupted time and no wifi that always gets my brain going!
  • Sunglasses (duh)
  • Refillable water bottle if I have space. I’ve been using this cute one by that says “after this we’re getting pizza” and I LOVE it because it’s cute (duh) and it doesn’t spill.
  • Snacks…obviously. These come in handy if I’m in a hotel and don’t want to spend $16 on a bag of chips, too.

That’s it! Easy, right?

I’ll do another packing post soon, maybe a full on packing list setup since I forgot my underwear when packing for France… True story y’all.

What packing info would be most beneficial to y’all?

bring little bags to separate all of that in your purse!

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  • Reply
    Miss ALK
    May 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I totally agree with all of these essentials!! I keep most of them in my carry-on when I travel too!

    xoxo A

  • Reply
    Sarah Newsome
    May 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    You can buy mini packets of coconut oil at Trader Joe’s! I pack a couple–they’re so small and easy to throw in my toiletry bag.

    • Reply
      May 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Was going to suggest the same thing!

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      May 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      ohhhh YASSS I’m going on the hunt then!

  • Reply
    Alexis deZayas
    May 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Definitely saving this for my next quick trip! Really great tips!!

  • Reply
    May 9, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Love this post! Makeup wipes are a must while traveling!

    Rachel /

  • Reply
    Christine Thompson
    May 9, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Perfect timing as I leave to visit home to New York tomorrow and I’m only bringing a carry-on :-)

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Hello Creative Blog
    May 9, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Great tips!! Something I’ve done in the past is use a contact lens case for liquid foundation, concealer, eye cream, etc. Or save up on the little Sephora sample containers and reuse them! Works great and doesn’t take up much room. :)

  • Reply
    Mademoiselle Coconath
    May 9, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Great post
    Mademoiselle Coconath

  • Reply
    May 10, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Yes To has a coconut line with some face wipes; i haven’t tried them specifically, but i’ve liked other stuff from the line. also i use Old Spice as well… it just works!!

  • Reply
    Katherine Swain
    May 10, 2017 at 9:28 am

    So many awesome tips and products! Another essential for me is the Drybar mini bottle of dry shampoo!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I use coconut oil to remove my makeup too that I refuse to pack anything else. So when I travel, I transfer a bit of it to one of my sampled containers from Nordstorm or something. A little bit goes such a long way! Love your post <3

    x. kritsida

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      May 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      oh yes I’ve done this before!! I do this esp for long trips when I know I can’t live w/o it ha!

  • Reply
    Alexandra Tscheekar
    May 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips! Something I do for long flights is pack a moisturizing mask to use some point mid flight when my skin could use a moisture boost. It looks a bit weird for a few minutes, but my skin feels so refreshed afterwards. :)

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      May 11, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      ohhhh yesss!! Which one is your favorite?!

      • Reply
        Alexandra Tscheekar
        May 12, 2017 at 2:26 am

        I love the SpaLife and Que Bella ones from Target!

  • Reply
    Emily Piskulick
    May 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    i love seeing what other people pack—thank you for sharing! xo

  • Reply
    Wild about Wednesday Vol. 15 - vis-à-vizsla
    May 16, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    […] Carry on Essentials @ Brighton the Day | I started following Brighton a few months back mostly for the fashion but occasionally she will post a random beauty or lifestyle post that is really different from the rest of her posts and they’re pretty awesome. She does a good job of organizing her posts, which is something I’m trying to work on. Formatting a blog post is not easy for me. I realize it can be a journal of sorts for some people, but I thrive on structure and organization, so when I go back and see my blog posts don’t have any theme or aren’t fluid, I cringe. A friend told me that I shouldn’t be too concerned about it because my personality tends to be all over the place, too, so my blog should be a reflection of who I am. Lol. […]

  • Reply
    Jessica V
    June 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    HAHAHA I use that deodorant too!! Works so much better than women’s deodorant and smells great :)

  • Reply
    Jessica V
    June 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    BTW, is your bag the O.G. or the O.M.G size???

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      July 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      it’s actually the smaller size but I want the bigger one because my computer is a 15 inch!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Love this post. So helpful!! What is your favorite jewelry organizer for traveling?

  • Reply
    Laura Harrison
    July 9, 2017 at 10:57 am

    I know this is an older post — but have you tried the Vita CoCo Oil minis for travel?

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      July 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      no where do you get them??

      • Reply
        Laura Harrison
        July 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

        I get them at Central Market — but it looks like they are on Amazon too (sadly not on Prime though).

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