How To Pack The Perfect Carry On Bag!

What to pack in a carry on bag

Travelling is one of the most exciting things you can do.

But no matter how well you organise your travel arrangements, things can go wrong!

Occasionally flights get delayed or cancelled, or your suitcase accidentally gets sent on a holiday to a different destination.

A well packed carry on (cabin) bag can save the day and will have you prepared for whatever gets thrown your way.

After 13 years as a corporate travel consultant, I have been on lots of flights and had to deal with some interesting experiences and have learned how to pack a cabin bag that will cover all emergencies and have you ready to start your holiday the minute you touch down. I am sharing my tips for the Virgin Australia Competition.

Before you excitedly run off to start packing, make sure you check your airline/s rules on cabin bag size and weight restrictions.

Gone are the days of putting your heaviest items in your carry on bag in the hope of checking in as lightly as possible.

Many airlines are now measuring and weighing all cabin bags at the departure gate and will not hesitate to charge you if yours does not comply.

Choose a sturdy bag with a long strap that you can carry over your shoulder, your arms will thank you!


  • ONE FRESH OUTFIT – Roll up in a log shape and wrap tightly in cling wrap. Secure with sticky tape. This will ensure it stays clean in case of spills or leaks.
  • ONE SET OF UNDERWEAR – Fold up and place in a snap lock bag.
  • SWIMSUIT – If you are heading somewhere warm, you don’t want to miss a day at the beach if your suitcase is not onboard with you. Place in a snap lock bag.
  • TRAVEL DOCUMENT WALLET – Invest in a good quality wallet instead of relying on the flimsy plastic ones often provided with your documents. Choose a bold and contrasting colour so that it is easy to find in your bag. Store prescriptions and receipts in here as well.
  • SMALL PURSE/WALLET – Leave your bulky purse at home, you won’t be needing all your store cards and coffee reward cards. You only need your credit card, airline membership card/s and drivers license. Have a back-up credit card or loadable card in reserve hidden in your suitcase.
  • PHONE, EARPHONES & CHARGER – Roll up your charger cord and earphones and store in a snap lock bag. Create a playlist of soft and soothing music. Together with your earphones this can help block out cabin noise and help you relax.
  • IPAD or TABLET – Instead of carrying heavy books and magazines, load up your IPad with magazines and books that you have been wanting to read… will have time.
  • CAMERA AND CHARGER – You don’t want to miss any photo opportunities.
  • MEDICATION – Pack enough prescription medication to cover 48 hours, place the rest in your suitcase.
  • TRAVEL SICKNESS TABLETS – Just in case! Ginger tea bags can also be helpful for a quick cup of tummy settling.
  • A PACK OF MINTS OR CHEWING GUM – Chewing or sucking on a lolly or gum can help to ease pressure build up in your ears.
  • REFRESHMENT PACK – Tooth brush, mini toothpaste, stick deodorant (wont leak), mini hand sanitizer, mini travel tub of your favourite mosituriser, non-metal nail file, small pack of tissues, Panadol, comb, 2 bandaids, sample size perfume/aftershave and lip balm.
  • WARM SOCKS – Ditch your shoes and put on a nice warm pair of socks as soon as you get onboard.
  • PASHMINA – The perfect lightweight way to keep warm in a cold cabin.
  • TRAVEL DIARY AND PEN – Don’t forget a single detail, jot it all down.

When you have got your cabin bag packed, put everything else in your suitcase, lock the front door and head to the airport.

You are ready to roll, it’s time to relax and enjoy your holiday.

What is your ‘must have’ item to take onboard a flight?

Sharing for #FYBF at With Some

23 thoughts on “How To Pack The Perfect Carry On Bag!

  1. Great packing list! I like to have my noise-cancelling headphones, as well as bud earphones…and on a long-haul overnight flights I sometimes take one of those squishy neck pillows. (came via #FYBF)

  2. Heading off on a trip next week so this post was really timely! I think out of this list I love taking a pashmina the most as I find this has come in handy so many times when the weather turns/ I forget a hat/ I need to wipe something!

  3. A really good list of items to pack in your hand luggage. I hadn’t considered putting the spare cloths in zip lock bags to keep them clean – great idea.
    The only thing I would add is an empty water bottle that you can fill after passing through security, flying is dehydrating.

    1. Ever since they introduced the restrictions for bottles/fluids, I have avoided packing one and just buy one onboard.

    1. Wishful thinking on that one, admittedly lost bags are not usually more than 24 hours before they are re-united with you. 🙂

  4. Yes I like the tip of keeping the spare clothes in a ziplock bag! I also take some herbal tea bags with me- I love a cup of peppermint tea while flying, it freshens my breath and also helps with bloating/gassy feelings (and I guess you could use the tea bags on your eyelids to help with puffiness?!)

    1. Peppermint is a good one for funny tummies, and I almost put that on my list, but I thought I might be getting a bit carried away!

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