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Essential travel items from Amazon to pack in your carry-on.

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My personal tips on essential items you must pack in your carry-on so you can enjoy your trip and get through airport security hassle-free. 

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on one of the affiliate links. I only recommend products I’ve personally used and liked. All opinions are my own. 

For every trip, there are some essential items you must pack in your carry-on luggage so you can have a smooth journey. Gorgeous outfit combinations are fun to think about, but get the essentials down first so you can enjoy the trip in comfort and ease. The following tips aren’t meant to scare you, or hinder you, from travelling but it’s good to be realistic and to be prepared.

So here’s my carry-on packing list for must-have items you should always bring for any trip. 

Passport and Documents 

I know it sounds obvious to bring your passport and any other documents you might need (tourist visa, student papers, etc). But before leaving the house, always check one last time that you have your passport on you.

Keep in mind that everything else you might have forgotten to pack is either buyable or replaceable in the host country, so don’t fret about the minor things. 

Storing your passport (and other valuables) 

Make paper copies of your passport (and other important documents you might need for travelling) and store them locked up in your luggage. It’s a good idea to have paper copies of your documents in case the originals get lost, damaged, or stolen. Keep a paper copy of your passport on you in case you do need to show ID (as proof of age at a pub, for example). However, no one else (besides the police or the hotel) should need to see your original passport so be wary of anyone asking for it. 

If you’re staying at a hotel…

Keep the real passport locked in the hotel safe (assuming they have one) while you’re out exploring for the day. 

Remember to take the passport out of the hotel safe! Set a reminder on your phone to alert you to take out your passport when you’re leaving the hotel. I like to set a reminder on my phone to take out my passport from the hotel safe the night before I’m leaving so I have it packed and ready to go. This way, I avoid fumbling to get it out of the safe if I have an early train or plane to catch. And I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but check one last time that you have the passport on you before leaving the hotel room. 

If you’re staying at a hostel…

For budget travellers staying in dorm-style accommodations like hostels, I recommend keeping your valuables on your person versus leaving them in the dorm room. Most likely you’ll be sharing the room with other travellers, and as cool as that is, it won’t be cool at all if your valuables go missing. 

I recommend using a hidden money belt that goes under your shirt. One I really like is the StashBandz from Amazon.

It sits at the waist without bulging and has hidden pockets with a zipper to store small, flat valuables. Any pickpockets would have to work pretty hard to get under your shirt and unzip a tiny zipper on the band to get to the valuables.  

The band is good for storing your passport on you, concealing some cash, and any extra credit cards you might have. I suggest keeping petty cash in your purse or wallet, but hide the higher value stuff in the Stash band. If your purse does get stolen (hopefully never!), at least you still have your valuables on you. 

Medicine 

The next essential item you must pack in your carry-on is a bit of over-the-counter medication. No matter where you’re going in the world, you should always stay safe and healthy. 

I always recommend bringing a little medicine kit with the following (note I am not a doctor. These are just recommendations that have worked well for me): 

  • pills to counter fever or headaches,
  • throat lozenges (for any pesky sore throat developed from the stress of travelling),
  • pills for motion sickness or nausea,
  • ointment or band aids for minor cuts and burns.

It’s always important to have some medicine on you; don’t rely on pharmacies to be open in the middle of the night, or worse, there might not even be one close by depending on where you are. So prepare a small medical kit and enjoy the peace of mind you get knowing it’s there just in case. 

Plug Adapters 

I recommend generally buying some country-specific plug adapters since lugging around a universal adapter can be cumbersome (the prongs wear out faster, or it doesn’t plug flush against the wall) but a universal adapter is definitely good if you’re continent hopping a lot. See below for some plug adapter suggestions that I think are essential items to pack in your carry-on bag.

Single International Travel Adapters

For a single universal adapter, I suggest getting the International Power Adapter Travel Plug from Amazon which comes with 4 USB slots allowing you to charge multiple devices at a time. I find it quite sturdy and it plugs securely into the wall; none of that annoying trait where it plugs in and hangs off the wall socket. 

But if you know you’re headed to Europe, for example, then having some plug adapters stored in your travel purse is convenient. Plug the adapters on a train, plane, or bus, and you’re good to start charging.

Country-specific Plug Adapters

Amazon sells some 2-pack European Plug Adapters with 2 USB ports on each of the plugs. I like carrying one in my travel purse so I can charge my devices anytime I find an outlet.  

In addition to the European plug adaptor with 2 USB ports only, I also like to bring a European plug adapter with universal sockets and use it at the hotel.

Amazon has a European plug adapter with 2 sockets, 2 USB A ports and 2 Type-C ports which is super convenient for charging several devices requiring different charging ports in your hotel room. 


Toiletries and Accessories 

Reusable, refillable travel bottles could help you save money and be eco-friendly at the same time. Try the Kitsch Refillable Travel Sets.

These bottles are convenient to travel with as most of them lay flat when empty. The set also comes with tools to make it easier to refill the bottles for every trip. 

Sometimes you’ll be rushed and stressed from all the packing and planning. I always recommend having some travel-sized toiletries you can simply grab and go in your carry-on to avoid last-minute stress over squeezing liquids into other plastic bottles. 

The Body Shop from Amazon sells travel-size body wash and hair care products (the bottles are 60 mL or less) that I find extremely convenient to grab and go for a trip. Simply recycle the plastic bottles in the new country to avoid bringing it back on your return trip. 

Another way to reduce packing stress (and to avoid bringing liquids on to the flight) is to buy the liquids (in small bottles) when you’re in the host country. Once in a while, simply buy the shampoo or conditioner you need at your destination, use it all up in the country, and recycle the bottles. I admit again that it’s not always the most eco-friendly or economical, but once in a while it could save the hassle of having to bring liquids through airport security.

Planning a trips is stressful. Don’t let packing be.

You’ve probably spent months planning for your bucket-list trip and the last thing you want to do is ruin the excitement by stressing out over something tiny you could’ve simply bought. Sometimes it’s better to spend a bit more now so you can save time and frustration later on. 

Once you’ve packed all the essential items that you must pack in your carry-on bag, relax a bit, and then go ahead and start packing the fun stuff. 

Are you going to Italy for 10 days? Also check out my guide on How to pack for 10 days in Italy

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