Carry On Packing List for International Flights

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This carry on packing list will prepare you for an overnight flight abroad on your next international trip. Fly more comfortably and be prepared in case your checked bag is delayed.

A carry on bag sits on the bed in front of all the items that go inside.

When you are about to fly the red eye route “across the pond,” especially if you’re traveling with kids, it is crucial to pack your carry on bag with everything you need to be comfortable.

I’m sharing a peek inside my own carry on, this is what I packed when I flew from Charlotte to London with my family for our 6-day spring break trip.

Thanks to my planning, we were prepared when the airline lost my daughter’s suitcase and she was stuck without her items for THREE WHOLE DAYS.

Here’s everything you need for your own carry on bag to travel with peace of mind.

Travel Essentials

A travel folio is filled with 4 passports and credit cards.

Start by preparing the MOST important items for your carry on bag. These items should absolutely never be put into a checked suitcase and should be on your person at all times:

  1. Boarding Passes: Even if you have them on your phone, we found printed copies help a family of four navigate more smoothly through the airport.
  2. Passports: Traveling with four people can be chaos. We kept all our travel documents together in one neat folio. This was in my husband’s safety vest at all times when we didn’t need to present them to an official.
  3. Driver’s License or ID: We kept these in the folio with the passports.
  4. Keys: For car and home.
  5. Credit Cards / Payment Methods: Also in the folio.
  6. Phone & Charging Cord: Especially when you have these essential travel apps, you are going to use your phone a ton when you fly. Just be sure you have your charging cord so you can keep it charged on the go.

Personal Items

Hand wipes and a personal items container.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I think airplanes and airports are just sooooo dirty. The last thing I want is my family to get sick on vacation, so I always travel with some sanitary supplies.

We also always bring the core basic toiletries we need in case we are stuck with a flight delay or our baggage doesn’t arrive at our destination.

  1. Travel Pouches of Bleach Wipes: I picked these up in the travel section at Target for $1 a container. We use them to wipe down the airline trays, arm rests, seatbelt clasps, and the wall around the window if we plan to rest our head for sleeping. You would not believe how dirty the wipes come back after we’re finished. YUCK.
  2. Handzies Wipes: These are wet wipes meant for skin, unlike the bleach wipes. I buy huge bags of them for when we travel and we use them before we eat when it is impractical to get to a bathroom to wash our hands. I always have some in the carry on for the food and beverage service when it is hard to get up from my seat to wash hands.
  3. Toothbrush & Paste, Floss
  4. Lipbalm or Chapstick
  5. Deodorant
  6. Comb or Brush, Hair Ties
  7. Nail File
  8. Prescription Medications: NEVER in checked bag
  9. Basic Meds: Pain reliever, Stomach / Motion sickness, etc. as needed. I had a pouch of Advil we used way more than once.
  10. Jewelry: NEVER in checked bag

Back Up Items

A change of clothes and slippers are ready to be packed.

After my daughter’s suitcase got lost on the way to London, my family will never make fun of me for suggesting a basic change of clothes for their carry on again.

A fresh set of underwear and a shirt could even be used to sleep in if your flight is delayed and you can’t access your suitcase.

  1. Change of Shirt
  2. Change of Underwear
  3. Change of Socks
  4. Compression Socks: I wear these on the plane to help with swelling, I always include a back-up pair just in case.
  5. Slippers: I use outdoor-friendly hard-soled slippers in case I want to change into these on the plane or use them in a hotel room.

Comfort and Entertainment

Headphones, a kindle, and charging cords.

With all the essentials in place, it is time to turn to your in-flight entertainment. Those international flights can be 6 hours or more, that’s a long time to keep distracted.

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones: The airlines have stopped giving out earbuds on the planes! They did not have enough during our recent flight. All the more reason I will never leave my headphones at home. My Bose headphones were a Mother’s Day gift in 2020 and I loooooove them. Don’t forget the charging cord!
  2. Airfly Pro: To connect your wireless headphones or earbuds to the plane’s movie screen, you can use this amazingly handy device. The Airfly pro plugs into the headphone socket on the plane and transmits the movie you want to watch as well as the pilot’s announcements to your wireless headphones. I love mine so much, I bought a second one for my husband as a Valentine’s Day gift.
  3. Kindle or Book: Don’t forget the charging cord!
  4. iPad or Tablet: Don’t forget the charging cord!

Food and Beverage

Airplane food is nothing to write home about. You can bring your own snacks and candy from home and avoid paying $15 for a bag of Chex Mix at the airport.

  1. Gum and/or Hard Candy
  2. Snacks
  3. Water or Soda: Buy this AFTER you’ve gone through security. It might be a while before the beverage cart comes through on your plane.
The photo collage shows all the things to pack in a carry on bag for an International flight.

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