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An Essential Carry-On Packing List (+ the Things You CAN’T Take on a Plane)

Essential Carry-On Packing List, including the things you can't take on a plane

Any frequent flier has mastered the airport security danceOh you know, the whole shoe-removing, bin-filling, conveyor belt-following, TSA X-raying, bag-scanning, body-patting show you must perform every time you waltz through an airport. Yes, frequent fliers certainly learn a lot about traveling on airplanes and airport security since 9/11, especially the things to bring on airplanes, and the things you can’t take on a plane. For every can I bring it on the plane? question you have, frequent fliers like myself have an answer, because there’s nothing worse than finally getting to the front of a long airport security line just to find you violated carry-on luggage restrictions.

To add to the uncertainty, carry-on restrictions are constantly changing! In fact just recently, large electronic devices such as laptops, cameras, and tablets, were banned from all carry-on baggage on direct flights between the U.S. and 10 specific airports—so it’s important to stay in the know when preparing your carry-on packing list.

So, what can you take on a plane and what are the things you can’t take on a plane? Don’t worry. We’ve made an essential carry-on packing list to help you out, including all the things you can’t take on a plane!

Vintage Leather Backpack to Travel in Style

I’m using my adorable MAHI Leather Roma backpack as my personal item to hold all my plane essentials, as it’s the perfect size for comfortably stashing under the chair in front of me, while still being super fashionable when I arrive to my destination. It works just as well for a Prague rendezvous as it does for a getaway in Italy, or even a stroll on a beach in Sri Lanka or South Korea!  Now before we get into what can you take on a plane, and what you should bring, there are some things you should know first: what carry-on bags you need and what airline carry-on rules you should research. After that, you’ll find the carry-on packing list and the things you can’t take on a plane.

 

For more information specific to to American travel, check out TSA Rules You Need to Know: A Guide to TSA Carry-On Restrictions.

 


Note: this carry-on packing list was written for those who are also checking in bags. If you are not checking in any bags, and intend to bring everything with you on the plane, then this carry-on packing list will be incomplete for you!


Your Carry-on Bags

Carry-on luggage restrictions will vary, as each company will have its own airline carry-on rules. However, there are a set of general guidelines that tend to satisfy most airline carry-on luggage restrictions. What can you take on a plane for most airlines? While there are exceptions, most airlines allow two carry-on items: one full-sized carry-on bag, and a personal item.

 


Make sure to check out the best carry-on luggage for major airlines to learn more about what bag will work best for you!


 

Full-sized Carry-on Bag: Bluesmart One Smart Luggage

For your full-sized carry-on bag, the Bluesmart One Smart Luggage is the cream of the crop of carry-on luggage, and is about as high tech as it gets! In addition to being compact, durable, and water-resistant, the bag has some killer perks making this the bag of the future. The Bluesmart One bag comes loaded with a battery and 2 USB charging ports with enough juice to charge your devices 6 times, as well as 3G and GPS tracking to allow you to find your suitcase no matter where you are on the globe. Even more, the built-in scale and remote digital lock allow you to weigh and lock/unlock your smart suitcase using your phone. Dang, that’s a seriously impressive bag!

Bluesmart One Smart Carry-on Luggage

 

 


How strong is your luggage? 

Check out which bags survived the ultimate #SuitcaseMustDie tests!


 

 

Alternative Full-sized Carry-on Bag: Think Tank Bags

For those bringing along cameras, laptops, or tablets, we highly recommend Think Tank bags. Perfect for photographers both amateur and professional, Think Tank has a whole range of bags from durable backpacks, rolling cases, laptop bags, and tons more. Think Tank also has a brand new line of very chic camera bags that do just as much for your outfit as they do to protect your gear. And if you use our link, you can get free shipping and a bonus gift!

Think Tank Carry-On Signature Shoulder Bags

We use the Think Tank Airport Helipak for traveling with our DJI Phantom and it’s seriously the best thing in the world. Make sure to check out our full Think Tank bag review for more information!

Carry-On Packing List: Choosing the right personal item

Click on the image above for the cheapest flight deals of the week!

Personal Item: MAHI Leather Roma Backpack

What’s a personal item? A small bag such as a purse, laptop bag, shoulder bag, camera bag, or a compact backpack, ideally one that can also serve as a travel day bag once I arrive to my destination). What can you take on a plane as your personal item? As I mentioned, I’ve been using the MAHI Leather Roma backpack, as it satisfies three important checks off my list: comfortable, sizeable enough for all my essentials, and small enough to stow comfortable under the chair in front of me while in transit. As a bonus, its chic, gorgeous vintage brown leather compliments any outfit when traveling to stylish cities. Check out our full MAHI Leather Roma backpack review.

The best travel day bag lets you travel in style while holding everything you need. As a bonus, we've included a packing list of daily travel essentials!

 

Stowing Your Bags on the Plane

Where do you store these bags on the plane? Your full-sized carry-on bag will be stashed in the overhead bin, while the personal item should be small enough to fit under the chair in front of you. It’s smart to keep the things you know you’ll need within an arm’s reach in your personal item, and keep everything else stowed in the full-sized carry-on bag.


The Secret to Cheap Flights
 

Research Your Airline Carry-On Rules

Yes, you want to know: what can you take on a plane? But before you look at a carry-on packing list, you should research a few airline carry-on rules. Different airlines will have different carry-on luggage restrictions, so it’s important you check on the airline website.

Knowing your airline carry-on rules is ESSENTIAL to problem-free travel. Bringing prohibited items could potentially end up in questioning by security officials and even civil penalties of up to $12,856 for the worst violations. For more information, you should refer to this Guide to Airline Policies for Carry-On Luggage.

 

 

What airline carry-on rules should you look for?

  • How many bags you may carry on without an additional charge (if any)
  • If you are allowed a personal item in addition to your carry-on luggage
  • The dimensions allowed for your carry-on luggage(s)
  • The weight limit for your carry-on luggage(s)
  • If the weight limit applies to each luggage individually, or in total
  • The things you can’t take on a plane

These airline carry-on rules will determine how much you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Also, depending on how strict the airline carry-on rules are, they may require you to reevaluate your own carry-on packing list and take out any non-essentials (are you really going to read those 4 magazines?!). Additionally, while different airlines may have different procedures, our list of all the things you can’t take on a plane apply no matter which airline you fly! Read to the end to find our list of all the things you can’t take on a plane!

Keep in mind that the same airline company may have different airline carry-on rules for international versus domestic flights, for different flight classes, and for members of special airline promotions and programs, so be specific in your research.


The Best Travel Deal App Download
 

For more information on air travel, you might want to refer to:

 

 

Our Essential Carry-on Packing List

Now it’s time to break out our essential carry-on packing list. Here’s everything you should make sure to bring in your personal item and/or carry-on luggage when going on an airplane! If you’re flying in the winter, you should also have a look at our Essential Winter Travel Packing List!

 

Health & Sustenance

One of the most important parts of your carry-on packing list is your prescription medications. Make sure that all medications you carry-on are in their original, clearly-labeled bottles with your name visible. You may be asked to verify that the medications are yours with your ID.

  • Prescription Medication

Can you take food on an airplane? Absolutely! So long as any liquids or liquidy foods (yogurts, creams, dips, jams, jellies, etc.) abide by the 3.4 oz/100 mL liquids rule. It’s smart to bring snacks and/or more when you’re going on an airplane, so you’re not dependent on the cabin crew! Many airlines charge for food these days, so packing something to munch on ahead of time will save you money and a grumbling tummy.

  • Food

Flying is extremely dehydrating, and drinking water is essential when on an airplane! Since you can’t bring a filled bottle of water through airport security, we recommend bringing an empty bottle and filling it up once you’ve gotten past security.

  • Empty Bottle

Nomader BPA-Free Collapsible Water Bottle

 

Cleanliness

Depending on the length of your flight, you might find it more comfortable to add small toiletries to your carry-on packing list to help freshen you up. And since airplanes are known for being a hotbed of germs, anything to stay clean is welcomed warmly! What can you take on a plane to keep yourself clean and groomed? We recommend:

    • Toothbrush/Toothpaste


Marvis Travel Whitening Mint Toothpaste 
 

Violife Slim Sonic Electric Travel Toothbrush

  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes


Antibacterial Travel Hand Sanitizer Gel with Aloe


Cleanwell All Natural Hand Sanitizing Pocket Wipes

  • Your favorite toiletries, such as lotion, deodorant, face spray


Burt’s Bees Fabulous Mini’s Travel Set

Personal Care Travel Set

  • Change of clothes, including underwear, socks, slippers


Compression Socks for Flight Travel

 

  • Travel hair brush


Spornette Carry-On Wooden Hair Brush

  • Small mirror


Lighted Foldable Travel Magnifying Mirror

  • Hair ties


No-Slip Elastic Hair Ties

Entertainment & Electronics

Flights are tedious, so you’ll definitely want to add something to keep you busy or entertained to your carry-on packing list. Of course there’s the old way: magazines, books, etc. But technology also makes it super easy to bring a whole digital stack of magazines and books in your phone or tablet—just make sure you don’t run out of battery! What can you take on a plane for entertainment? Here’s what we recommend for your carry-on packing list:


Note: As of 2017, you may no longer be able to carry-on large electronic devices—basically, anything larger than a smartphone. This includes tablets, laptops, cameras, e-readers, portable DVD players, and electronic games. The ban applies to direct fights between the U.S. and 10 specific airports. Refer to In-Flight Ban on Large Electronic Devices: What You Need to Know to find out if this ban will affect you!


 

  • Magazines/books (the old way)


Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

  • Kindle, iPod/iPhone or other smartphone, laptop (the new way)

 


Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

  • SD card or flash drive loaded up with movies

SanDisk 64GB Memory Card

  • Phone, tablet, and/or Kindle Charger

Dual USB Travel Wall Charger with Foldable Plug and Lighting Charging Cable

  • Back-up power bank charger

Anker Ultra-Compact High-Speed Power Bank

 

Comfort

Beyond the boring tedium of flying, an airplane can be downright uncomfortable! What can you take on a plane to make your life a little easier? Add these comfort essentials to your carry-on packing list and your body will thank you later:

  • Ear plugs


Lewis N. Clark Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs

  • Eye Mask

Plemo Ultra-Soft Velvet Sleep Mask

  • Scarf, sarong, or blanket


Viverano Pure Organic Cotton 5-Way Convertible Travel Wrap

  • Inflatable neck pillow

Push-Button Inflatable Travel Neck Pillow

  • Sleeping pills

Jet Lag Relief Natural Sleep Remedy

 

Travel Documents

Another essential carry-on packing list tip is to keep all your important travel documents close to you. All your ID’s, tickets, hotel bookings, directions, and itineraries should be printed in advance and added to your carry-on packing list. When traveling internationally, you will need to know at least one address that you will be staying at when going through customs, so make sure to have that information prepared as well! The ultimate prepared-traveler should have digital backup copies of all itineraries, booking information, passport photos, visas, and passport scan stored on their phone, SD card, or USB drive. So what can you take on a plane to ensure you have all the travel documents you need? Here’s what we recommend adding to your carry-on packing list:

  • Wallet


Zoppen Multi-Purpose Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Holder

  • Passport and other forms of ID

The Getaway Passport Holder

 

  • Flight tickets
  • Visas
  • Hotel booking information
  • Directions
  • Itineraries
  • SD card or USB drive with digital backups of important travel documents

SanDisk 32GB Flash Drive

 

Valuables

It’s important to bring all your valuable items in your carry-on luggage, as putting them in your checked bags leaves them vulnerable to being lost, damaged, or stolen. In addition, the flammability of certain batteries, such as the LiPo batteries used in many cell phones, drones, and other electronics raise a safety issue for checked bags, and should always be carried on—learn more about traveling with LiPo batteries.  So, what can you take on a plane to ensure your valuables are safe? Here’s what we think you should add to your carry-on packing list:

Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II

  • LiPo batteries

LiPo Battery Fireproof Bag

  • Jewelry

Vegan Leather Travel Jewelry Case

  • Fragile items
  • Any other irreplaceable or valuable items

 

 

 

Prohibited Items: Things You Can’t Take on a Plane

Just as valid as questions for what can you take on a plane are those for the things you can’t take on a plane! Now a lot of these prohibited items are just common sense. Who needs freaking dynamite or fireworks on a plane, anyway?

Still, this list of prohibited things you can’t take on a plane is worth consulting when making your carry-on packing list. As mentioned previously, bringing prohibited items in your carry-on could potentially end up in questioning by security officials and even civil penalties of up to $12,856 for the worst violations. So make sure to follow the rules!


Note: this list of things you can’t take on a plane is restricted to your carry-on baggage. The rules may vary for your checked baggage.


 

Here are all the things you can’t take on a plane!

 

Explosives/Flammable Items

  • aerosols larger than 3.4 oz/100 mL, bear bangers, blasting caps, chlorine for pools and spas, dynamite, fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders, fireworks, flammable liquids/gels/aerosol paints, fuels, gas torches, gasoline, gel-type candles, hand grenades, lighter fluid, liquid bleach, realistic replicas of explosives or incendiaries, non-medical/recreational oxygen, spillable batteries, spray paint, strike-anywhere matches, tear gas, torch lighters, turpentine and paint thinner, vehicle airbags

Firearms, Weapons, and Sharp Objects

  • Ammunition, BB guns, compressed air guns, firearms, flare guns, flares, gun lighters, gun powder, gun parts, pellet guns, realistic gun replicas, starter pistols
  • Billy clubs, black jacks, brass knuckles, kubatons, martial arts weapons, night sticks, nunchucks, self defense sprays (such as pepper spray), stun guns, throwing stars
  • Box cutters, ice axes/ice picks, knives, meat cleavers, razors, sabers, scissors, swords

Sporting Goods and Tools

  • Baseball bats, bows and arrows, crampons, cricket bats, golf clubs, hiking poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, pool cues, ski poles, spear guns
  • Axes and hatchets, cattle prods, crowbars, drills and drill bits, hammers, saws, tools greater than 7 inches in length

 


There’s everything you need to know for carry-on packing list perfection! We hope we’ve cleared up any carry-on restrictions questions, as well as all those things you can’t take on a plane. Flying isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but with our travel tips and carry-on packing list, you can make this essential part of travel a little less of a pain in the butt. To recap, here’s our essential carry-on packing list:

  • Prescription medication
  • Food
  • Empty bottle
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes
  • Your favorite toiletries, such as lotion, deodorant, face spray
  • Change of clothes, including underwear, socks, slippers
  • Travel hair brush
  • Small mirror
  • Hair ties
  • Magazines/books (the old way)
  • Kindle, iPod/iPhone or other smartphone, laptop (the new way)
  • SD card loaded up with movies
  • Phone, tablet, and/or kindle Charger
  • Back-up power bank charger
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Scarf, sarong, or blanket
  • Inflatable neck pillow
  • Cozy socks
  • Sleeping pills
  • Wallet
  • Passport and other forms of ID
  • Flight tickets
  • Visas
  • Hotel booking information
  • Directions
  • Itineraries
  • SD card or USB drive with backups of important travel documents
  • Cameras, drone, etc.
  • LiPo batteries
  • Jewelry
  • Fragile items
  • Any other irreplaceable or valuable items

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Make plane travel easier with this carry-on packing list, plus the things you can't take on a plane, the airline carry-on rules you should know, and more! Make plane travel easier with this carry-on packing list, plus the things you can't take on a plane, the airline carry-on rules you should know, and more! Make plane travel easier with this carry-on packing list, plus the things you can't take on a plane, the airline carry-on rules you should know, and more!

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What essentials do you have on your carry-on packing list?

Or do you know any other things you can’t take on a plane? Share in a comment below!

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    LexandNeek
    April 5, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Great advice! Thanks. It’s always a challenge these days to travel by air and to know the latest in “Dos” and “Don’ts”

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