Carry-On Essentials

I am heading into a rather busy season of traveling. I don’t travel nearly as much as some of my friends (honestly have no idea where they get the energy!!), but I do find myself on a plane quite a bit.

I used to be all for checking bags. I’d check no matter what, even for a weekend trip. But ever since I got a carry-on roller bag, my opinion has completely changed. Before the rollers, I was lugging a duffle bag or weekender bag around it definitely wasn’t as convenient. The roller suitcases are so easy to roll through the airport and I love the freedom of not having to wait for a bag at the end of a flight. (Plus the risk that your belongings will be lost or delayed!) I bought a white monogrammed one to match my checked bag and then I did a partnership with Daily Edited and they sent me a black one. Both are great– the Mark & Graham one has one more zipped section + pockets and the Daily Edited one is black so it holds up more from bumps and scuffs! (I don’t think you can go wrong with either though, should you be in the market. I also got Mike an Away carry on for his birthday and he loves that!)

Carry On Essentials

For my “personal item,” I always bring a tote. If I am bringing my camera (which is about 50% of the time), I use an LL Bean Boat and Tote (size large) because it’s a little bit more spacious but still fits under a seat with a little pushing. And if I’m not bringing my camera, I just go for one of my favorite totes, like this open top one.

I always, always bring my laptop. (My travel motto is ABC: always bring computer.) And I make sure it’s packed safely away in a sleeve. I’ve had this one for I think 5+ years and it’s still going strong and just keeps getting better with age. 

As far as what I always bring with me with a carry-on:

Clear Bag for Liquids // Instead of using a Ziplock, I prefer to have an actual clear cosmetic case (if you want to upgrade to something fancy, this brand has a ton of pretty options) for my liquids. It’s one of the more annoying parts of traveling with a carry-on only (especially with sunscreen!!!), but easily doable with a little foresight. Sephora has a ton of travel sized items of your favorite products (like mini cans of dry shampoo!). I like this because I can keep my cosmetic case of travel liquids packed at all times so it’s ready to go before each trip without having to repack a thing.

– Reusable Bottle // I got a ton (like a shocking number) of questions regarding my S’well bottle in the airport a couple of weeks ago. Even though you can’t bring bottles of water through security– you can bring empty bottles. I’ve never been to an airport and not found a water fountain. Not only is this cost-effective (I have a hard time buying an $8 dollar bottle of water), it’s way better for the environment. I recommend packing something with a tight seal to avoid leaks on the go. I alternate between this Yeti with a leakproof cap and S’Well bottles.

– Cord Organizer // Regardless of how I’m traveling (plane, train, automobile), I always end up with a ton of cords to pack. Headphones (I have AirPods, but bring non-Bluetooth headphones to use with plane’s entertainment systems), laptop chargers, Apple Watch charger, iPhone charger, etc. In my head, I’d roll everything up perfectly and have a great case with a slot for each. But real life typically doesn’t work that way for me. But to keep the cords all in one spot and somewhat detangled from everything else, I just pack everything in a separate smaller cosmetic case.

– Steamer // I pack this all the time. Even for a one night trip, I bring a steamer. (Whenever I travel with my boyfriend’s family, they know they don’t need to pack one because they know I’ve got them covered 😂.) I don’t put this in my personal item, but I do make sure I have room for it in my suitcase. It doesn’t matter how carefully I fold (or roll) clothes, I prefer to steam everything fresh when I get to my destination. So much easier and faster than lugging out a giant ironing board and iron from a hotel.

Other than those things, I try to keep my carry on as lean as possible. You know that scene in Wild where Reese Witherspoon’s character has a seasoned pro going through each and every item paring things down so her pack isn’t quite as heavy. That’s what I do!!! The fewer things, the better.

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Love these essentials! Totally agree with your thoughts on the “seems great but never seems to work out in real life” cord organizers and am also always shocked at how many people don’t bring reusable water bottles to fill up once past security! When I started doing that it changed my life…amen on no more $8 water bottles!


When I travel (which is a lot between work and a long distance relationship), I am obsessed with using my Lo and Sons OMG bag — it is so perfectly organized, and contains all of my tech and everything else I need while also slipping over the handle of my carry on bag.


I love this! I try to carry on everything when possible. I also always have a water bottle with me to fill up at the airport. The look on peoples faces when they realize that is a genius idea is PRICELESS, and never gets old!! Happy travel season! 🙂

xx Libby


I’m completely in agreement with the carry-on decision! My mom used to be a flight attendant for PanAm (so it was awhile ago) but she always insists on packing everything in a carry on whenever possible and made sure my sister and I always did the same. The first time I remember actually checking a bag was for a two week study abroad in Europe when I had to bring towels and sheets, and then I really had no other choice! It just feels better to have the sense of security knowing that the bridesmaid dress you’re taking for the wedding isn’t going to get lost on the way there (or some other equally terrifying situation). Also, saving money not having to pay checked bag fees just feels good!

Michael @ Mile in My Glasses

I’ve never thought of taking a steamer, but it’s such a good idea! I hate having to rely on the iron in some hotels, and I also hate when all my shirts crinkle!

I hope you have a fantastic Saturday,


What is your specific advice for keeping items as lean as possible? I perennially overpack!

Katie Egloff

For a cord organizer, I use free makeup bags that I’ve gotten throughout the years. They look cute and use something that we all have on hand!

Christine S.

Ooh, good call on the steamer! My clothes always come out of my suitcases with some sort of wrinkles on them.

I’m constantly surprised by how few people bring empty water bottles through security! I will typically bring a full bottle with me when I travel (I love my Camelbak Eddy bottle) and drink most of it on my way to the airport, and then chug the rest right before I go through security so that I’m not dehydrated while flying. Plus most airports have nice water bottle stations at their drinking fountains so it’s incredibly easy to fill your bottle back up post-security.

sophie naylor

Love these essentials! I’m going to Amsterdam in a few weeks after not flying for a few years so this was really helpful! Also made me want to get a steamer haha. xx


Oh no! The steamer link is broken now. Could you recommend a brand/ model?