Home Tips How to Pack a Carry-On Like a Travel Pro

How to Pack a Carry-On Like a Travel Pro

Travel enough—and find yourself inconvenienced enough—and you learn some great tips pretty quickly. With 30-plus years of frequent business trips under her belt, Annie has developed a streamlined way to travel that makes getting out the door and into the car, plane, or train easy and—dare we say?—kinda comfortable. Her first line of defense against travel woes is packing her carry-on with a variety of essentials that keep everything she needs at the ready without feeling overloading.


Here are Annie’s seven steps for packing a carry-on like a travel pro:


  1. Start with a large-capacity, hold-everything tote as your main carry-all. We prefer a wide top and one big middle compartment, which allows for maximum interior packing options.


  1. Tuck a smaller tote inside the large one, off to one side; this will become your everyday bag once you land. Inside the small tote, include your wallet, passport, phone, sunglasses, lip balm, and other daily essentials, so all you have to do is grab it and go.


  1. Roll a lightweight throw into a tube shape and set it upright, opposite your small tote. This will keep the throw contained, so you won’t have to keep refolding it, but ready for duty during those notorious temperature fluctuations during air travel (or when road-tripping with friends who love to crank up the air-conditioning).


  1. Pack a few all-natural, healthy snacks. Annie loves organic almonds, unsweetened dried fruit, and a small bar of dark chocolate, but anything that’s portable or high in protein, essential nutrients, or antioxidants goes. Skip the sugar-laden snacks like candy and soda; they’ll spike your blood sugar and, when you’re already fatigued from travel, make the inevitable crash on the other side feel that much worse.


  1. Take a refillable water bottle. We can’t count the number of times we’ve bemoaned the price of bottled water at the airport. The simplest solution? Take an empty—this is key; the TSA won’t let you through with a full bottle—travel bottle, and fill up from the water fountain or hotel sink as you go. . . . As long as you’re in a country where drinking tap water is safe, of course.


  1. Pay attention to your health by packing a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer, packs of facial tissues, and a toothbrush and paste. Annie also likes to bring small packets of rapid-dissolve powders for headaches, motion sickness, or indigestion. And since air travel can wreak havoc on the skin, she also likes to have on hand a small facial mister and a mini tube of hand moisturizer.


  1. Don’t forget to take your own in-flight entertainment and comfy extras. These include a cushy pair of socks for kicking off your shoes on a chilly plane, a pair of noise-filtering earbuds and a neck pillow for optimal nap-ability, and an iPad stocked with dozens of books and magazines (hey, you never know when you’ll want to switch out that award-winning novel everyone but you has already read for a copy of Elle Décor). And don’t forget a reserve battery for your phone or other electronics. While many airports now have charging stations, you don’t want to find yourself jockeying for outlet position with hundreds of other travelers. Or, worse, your phone or iPad’s battery dwindles to nothing when you’re between the airport to the hotel, or the hotel and one of your business or sightseeing destinations. Save yourself a massive headache by picking up the best external battery you can find, and charge it fully the night before your trip.


Ready for your trip? Let’s stock up on travel essentials:


carryon comp



1. Method Hand Sanitzer

2. Boyfriend Greylac Throw

3. Jane Iredale Hydration Spray

4. Fresh American Fieldstone/Fuchsia Le Tote Grand

5. Vorson External Battery Charger

6. Kleenex Slim Pack

7. Slim Sonic Toothbrush

8. Dubs Acoustic Filters

9. Urgent Rx Powder Bundle

10. Smartwool Hike Ultralight Crew Sock

11. iPad Air 2

12. S’Well Santorini Water Bottle

13. Sunfood Raw Almonds

14. Fresh American Fieldstone Fuchsia Le Tote Moyen

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