Let’s be honest, I survive international flights. I definitely don’t thrive in any sense of the word. Travel days can be hard. A curated carry-on list will make your trip exponentially more comfortable. This is my complete list of carry-on MUST-HAVES for international trips. You are welcome!

In my Wallet

  1. Passport and Drivers license (if you are driving internationally)
  2. 1-2 travel credit cards (Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink) and 1 debit card (Charles Schwab) to get cash at ATM’s – see our Best Cards for Travel post
  3. Hard copies of travel insurance, flight, hotel and transportation info with phone numbers and addresses (I also have all this electronically on my phone)
  4. Cash (I carry at least $100 to get me through until I can get to an ATM abroad)

Travel Pro Tip: The best way to get cash abroad is from a credible bank ATM in the country you are visiting. Use credit cards when you can for major purchases and cash in the local currency for small purchases and haggling. – see  our How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees post


  1. Choose your screen of choice – iPhone/iPad/Kindle and chargers (upload a movie or two and a book for the in between times)
  2. Adapter and Converter


  1. Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes (I use these religiously on flights. I mean when was the last time they cleaned a TSA bin or your tray table….oh ya never)
  2. Bose headphones or noise canceling headphones
  3. Eye cover
  4. Ear Plugs
  5. Neck Pillow
  6. Extra socks or Compression socks (airplane floors are disgusting. I don’t want to wear shoes the whole time so I wear an extra pair of socks then try to fold them up and not touch them until they hit my laundry basket at home! Plus most flights are COLD)
  7. Kleenex/Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Lip Balm
  8. Travel Wrap (I always pack a large soft scarf that can double as a small blanket. Cashmere or Target knock-off, either way you will want it on the freezing flights, middle of the night transfers, freak weather, cold airport terminals etc.)
  9. One change of clothes, underwear and sunglasses (a small insurance policy for lost luggage. It will save you when, not if, your luggage is lost)
  10. Water and Snacks – get a water bottle after security (the worst is being stuck in traffic getting to your hotel after 30 hours of flying without water or food!)
  11. Medicine Bag – A small bag of 1-2 doses of various medications (Pepto, Tylenol, NyQuil, cough drops, prescription medicines. Enough to tide you over until you can find a pharmacy in a foreign country. Ever come down with the flu in the middle of the night in Africa? You’ll want some NyQuil!)

Travel Pro Tip:  Carry on any valuables. Airlines actually state in their luggage policy that they will NOT replace “anything of value.” Don’t ask me how I know this….you will get a very long, sad story. Don’t pack valuables if you can help it. If you must, bring them in your carry on and do not let it out of your site!

Happy Travels!

Must have carry-on essentials by Shelley Coar http://wanderlustbound.com/complete-guide-to-carry-on-essentials/

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