Anyone else have a hard time knowing what to pack in their carry on? I feel you. This post will break down 15 cheap carry on essentials that will make your next trip so much easier.
Packing for me used to start as two weeks of careful planning and jotting down packing lists on scraps of paper. I’d feel zen. So prepared.
The day of my flight would arrive. I’d still be cool. Then I’d look at the clock and realize I had to leave and I still somehow wasn’t ready. In a frenzy, I’d throw my careful plans out the window and stuff whatever I could find into my bag. Usually, I forgot something important like my travel adaptor or snacks.
Luckily, after packing my carry on wrong for countless flights, I’ve finally sorted out what I actually need in my carry on and what I don’t. Thank goodness!
Whether you’re traveling in just a backpack or have thirteen suitcases waiting for you in baggage claim, having a well-packed carry on bag will ensure you start your travels the right way.
Check out these awesome cheap carry on essentials that will help you have easy, comfortable flights, no matter where you go.
Top Inexpensive Carry On Products
A high-quality eye mask can make or break your long flight, especially if you’re crossing multiple time zones and want to have a scrap of sanity when you arrive. A sleeping mask will help you get that much-desired airplane rest so you aren’t a zombie when you land in your destination.
An eye mask can also be a lifesaver if you’ve got a long layover in an airport. Airports don’t turn out the lights at night, so a good eye mask can help you actually get a bit of sleep on that funky airport carpet.
If you’re a light sleeper, make sure to grab a pair of earplugs for your longer flights. Planes aren’t ideal for sleep, but by using a pair of earplugs with your eye mask could allow you to get a little nap in.
Sanitizer Spray or Wipes
Something about a day of traveling always makes me feel grimy. Clean up with a travel-friendly hand sanitizer like this one to help you stay healthy and clean on your trip.
Jetlag is absolutely brutal for me. I complain about it so much that not one, but two of my loved ones bought me Jetlag herbal remedies for Christmas last year.
Last time I flew to Asia, I didn’t have any kind of jetlag relief remedy. For about a week, I fell asleep as the sun was rising at 7:00am, woke up with a jolt around 6:00pm, and oscillated all night between boredom and panic because I just couldn’t fall asleep.
This all culminated in a welcome dinner with friends where I actually fell asleep into a plate of Pad Thai.
Yeah. I don’t handle jetlag well.
But this time when I flew to Asia, I tried out these herbal jetlag supplements. When I landed, my sleep schedule was a bit wacky but not nearly as bad as the first time.
I could get some sleep during the nighttime hours and I felt so much better mentally. Maybe it was a placebo effect. Maybe it was magic. Try for yourself and see what you think.
You can get the kind I use from Target. Just check out those glowing reviews!
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Dramamine or Motion Sickness Meds
I usually don’t get motion sick on planes, but I do get ridiculously motion sick in cars, buses, vans, and anything small that moves on roads.
The result? I’m super paranoid about getting motion sick and I just generally feel better if I have motion sickness relief within arms reach at all times. Dramamine is a great option for motion sickness sufferers and it comes in a non-drowsy formula too!
Having a comforting, caffeine-free tea is a great way to relax on a long flight. Flight attendants can give you warm water and you can cuddle up with your tea and a good movie. If you struggle with flying anxiety, they make stress reducer teas as well.
Wide scarf or sarong
Plane air can be chilly. Bring a wide scarf or sarong in your carry on so you can get cozy. This scarf even has hidden pockets, so you can stay warm and keep your valuables safe.
Change of clothes
If you’re checking a bag, make sure to bring a change of clothes in your carry on. In the event that your checked bag gets lost, you’ll have a few days with only your carry on while the airline returns it to you. Having a change of clothes is a real lifesaver if you get separated from the rest of your baggage.
Reusable water bottle
The air on planes is drier than normal air so make sure to drink lots of water. You’ll be served little cups of water with your meals, but it’s usually not enough for longer flights.
Bring your own reusable water bottle and the flight attendants can fill it for you so you’re well-hydrated throughout the journey. This one even collapses down so it won’t take up space in your bag when not in use.
Did you know that you can grab tons of cool books for free or super cheap on BookBub? Book bub is an email service that alerts you to temporarily free or discounted e-books. It’s a great way to score deals on best sellers and discover new books you might not have known about.
I always like to download a few new books before a long trip to make sure I have entertainment options. Sometimes watching 12 movies in a row can make your head spin, you know?
If you don’t have a Kindle already, I highly recommend getting one for traveling. You can find older, refurbished models on Amazon for inexpensive prices. You can also download the free Kindle app on your iPad or tablet to read your e-books that way!
Paper Back Books
If you’re not into the e-book thing, make sure to bring a few paperback books to keep you entertained. Ordering them in advance is almost always cheaper than buying them in the airport and you’ll have more options to choose from. Looking for some travel book inspiration? Here are some of my favorites!
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While traveling, it’s important to keep your valuables and electronics in your carry on bag. For years, there were so many tangled cords and wires in my bag that it looked like I’d just dumped a plate of spaghetti in there. Not any more.
To keep my technology organized, I arrange everything in this travel electronics case. It’s been a game-changer for my organization, to say the least. Read my full travel electronics case review here!
Keep your adapter in your carry on for when you have layovers in countries with different outlets. I love my adapter by Ceptics but it’s a bit over $20, so you can also check out this less expensive and more compact option!
You’ll likely be given headphones on long haul flights, but they aren’t the most comfortable. Bring your own headphones or earbuds like these to use for music and movies on the flight.
If you’re using a newer iPhone, remember to order earbuds that have the right audio port. If you don’t, you might have to run through a crowded Bangkok shopping mall searching desperately for the electronics store hours before you’re supposed to leave for the airport. It won’t be as fun as it sounds.
Some people look all glamorous when they travel. I’m not one of these people.
I usually emerge from a long haul flight with a greasy face and a weird low ponytail like the kind I rocked all of middle school. These face wipes at least help take care of the face part.
Mini toiletry kit
As for the rest of me, well, this mini toiletry kit helps me return to a somewhat normal human. Sure you, could assemble all your own tiny toiletries by painstakingly squeezing every product in your bathroom into those cute little travel bottles.
Empty mini toiletry containers
But like, if you really want to do it yourself, you can. Here’s a carry on approved set of leak-free, squishy silicone toiletry bottles you can fill with your own favorite toiletries.
Preparing the perfect carry on bag will ensure you have the smoothest flight possible. These carry on essentials will help you arrive refreshed, entertained, relaxed, and ready for your next adventure!