Carry-On Must-Haves for Holiday Travels

Ahhh, holiday traveling—is there anything better? Yes, about 100 other things. But, hey, we are willing to do it for our friends and family. And with a good amount of preparation, things should go smoothly. Packing well can make or break your trip, and that means knowing what to put in your packed bag and what to put in your carry-on. The latter is probably the most important, as there is a slight (hopefully just slight) chance your packed luggage will get lost. You’ll need to have the most important items with you in case of this all-too-common SNAFU. Read on for carry-on must-haves for your holiday travels to ensure success (and intact sanity).

Jewelry and Other Valuables

Because of the whole lost luggage scenario, you’ll want to have any valuable items either on your person or in your carry-on bag. This is particularly true if it’s a family heirloom, as there have been instances when lost items haven’t been recovered. And that timepiece your grandfather passed on after World War II is not likely to be able to be replaced. This means you never want to be separated from your carry-on luggage for any length of time, as you can never be too careful.

Meds ‘n’ More

As with valuables, medicine is something you don’t want to risk losing, especially if it is something you take every day. Make sure to pack your necessary meds in your purse or carry-on bag. Plus, you’re more likely to get headaches and such from the dehydration of being on a plane, so you want to have ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen somewhere you can access it.


You want your creature comforts in your carry-on bag, especially if you have a long flight and/or a layover. And if you’re not comfortable donning your PJs for the flight like some celebs, make sure to take them with you. Consider bringing a blanket or a fleece, as it often gets chilly on airplanes. A pillow/neck pillow and eye mask would be great, too, particularly if you are good at sleeping on planes (or if you take something to help yourself do that!). On a more serious note, very long flights such as international flights can cause pulmonary embolisms, so you might want to invest in a pair of compression socks to wear or bring. They help to prevent blood clots from sitting for long periods of time without moving.


Unless you plan on sitting and staring at the seat in front of you for hours, you’ll want to bring electronic and non-electronic entertainment options. If it’s a long flight, you’ll likely want to switch between the two, so an iPad and an actual book would be good options. And any parent who has been in the business of parenting for a while knows that you’ll want to bring plenty of entertainment options for each child. While it might not prevent the incessant “Are we there yet?” questions altogether, it could significantly reduce them.

Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks

Again, these are particularly crucial if you’re traveling with children, as they not only get hungry often but they will eat out of boredom. Plus, eating is something they can do to take their minds off traveling! If you’re health conscious, you’re going to want to plan some healthy food items you can bring with you in advance. If you’re in a bind, simply load up on the ones they sell at the airport. And don’t forget the water once you get through security.

Sanitary Stuff

Germophobes most certainly hate traveling, as sneezing and coughing come with the territory. While there’s not much you can do about that, you can bring things like sanitary wipes to clean off the tables you use for your snacks. And you might think of bringing something to clean your face and hands if it’s a long flight, too. Both dry and overly humid environments are part of the list of acne causes, so it’s best to be prepared if you’re prone to breakouts.

Traveling for the holidays can test the patience of a saint but, if you’re prepared with a carry-on bag loaded with all the necessities, your trek can be much more enjoyable than you think.

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