Ultimate Guide For What to Pack in A Carry On

Ultimate Guide For What to Pack in A Carry On

This content was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 25th, 2021.

The carry on might just be the GOAT of luggage types. It’s portable, easy-to-use, and can fit right beside you on your flight. Anyone who has ever flown knows that a carry on is the perfect travel companion. Whether you’re headed on a trip with friends or going on a solo trip for the weekend, carry on luggage can save you packing time and money!

If you're expecting a long flight, sometimes checked baggage can save you the headache. But you may be wondering what to bring in a carry on to fulfill your travel needs, while also following TSA and airline guidelines and saving space in your travel bag

If you’re not good at Tetris, don’t worry. Knowing what to pack in a carry on and packing light doesn't have to be complicated! By using some of these simple packing tips, you’ll quickly find that becoming a carry on connoisseur is easy as pie. So pop open your bag, get ready for takeoff, and read on for our ultimate carry-on packing list guide! 

Woman packing a beige suitcase on the floor with packing cubes

What To Pack in a Carry On... Depends on the Carry On!  

Many people shy away from packing carry-on luggage because they’re afraid it won’t hold all the things they want to bring. While it’s true that there is a maximum capacity for carry-ons, it’s actually much larger than you may think even though it fits in an overhead bin. Anything from a travel tote bag to a medium-sized suitcase to a garment bag can be classified as a carry-on. 

For shorter trips, sometimes this is the only bag you need to bring if you know how to pack it correctly. So whether you’re sporting a fun little purse or full-blown luggage, let’s take a look at what you’ll want to put inside your carry on.

We all know why traveling is important but now that you know the best way to pack a carry on you might be wondering what to bring in a hardside carry on. It often depends on where you’re going and for how long.

shop BEIS bags


Tote bag or Purse

For those who are either packing light or have most of their belongings in a checked bag, bringing a tote bag or purse on the plane is a perfect way to ensure all your essentials are accessible. 

To get the most out of this small carry on, you’ll want to choose a bag that has multiple pockets without compromising on style—you’re going to be strutting around the airport holding this, there’s no reason it can’t look nice! 

Take our Work Tote, for example. With two external pockets, a padded laptop sleeve, and a removable zip pouch for smaller items, there’s room for everything you need and more. Plus, it’s sleek, fashionable, and pairs well with almost any outfit.

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: What do you put in all these pockets? These pockets are a lifesaver for the traveler who is packing light. For a carry on bag this small, it’s important that you pick only the most essential items. This leaves some room for personal preference, but some examples of what you may reach for during a flight include:

  • Laptop and phone
  • Eye mask
  • Portable chargers
  • A book or magazine
  • Earplugs or earbuds
  • Wallet and passport
  • Keys (the ourWork Tote has its own key fob so you don’t lose them!)

All of these items will fit comfortably in a tote-sized carry on, and the right amount of pockets will ensure nothing gets lost or cluttered if you hit any unexpected turbulence. 


The next step up from a tote bag carry-on is a backpack. Choosing to bring a backpack on a plane is great because it holds more than a purse, but—unlike a suitcase—can typically still be stored under your seat while still holding all your travel essentials.

When choosing the perfect carry on backpack, it’s important to find a balance of sleekness and storage. While a bulky backpack may fit a lot of items, you don’t want it so big that it can’t fit comfortably in a tight space.

Fortunately, our 2-in-1 backpack fits the bill on this one. With a convenient front pocket, removable pouch, and spacious interior with a 15” laptop sleeve, it’s surprising how much you can fit in this do-it-all backpack.

All this storage space may have you wondering what to bring (we know; the possibilities are endless). Similar to a tote bag, a classic and stylish backpack such as a rucksack allows you to have easy access to essential items like your phone, toiletries, or a book. 

Packing Tip - Additionally, you can also fit items such as:

  • A sweatshirt in case the plane is chilly
  • A Laptop bag 
  • Hand Sanitizer to keep any unwanted germs away 
  • A water bottle or another beverage you purchased at the airport
  • Any cosmetic items you might need to freshen up
  • Larger, over the ear headphones
  • Any valuables you don’t want in a checked bag

A backpack leaves more room for any additional items you want to keep close by, including bulkier items that won’t fit in your tote bag like a travel pillow. If you plan on packing a bit heavier, a backpack may be the way to go.

Carry On Suitcase

The final evolution of carry on luggage is the hardside suitcase. Choosing a suitcase as your carry on can sometimes be a gamble, even if you’re not flying to Las Vegas. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to determine whether or not your suitcase fits the exact dimensions of a carry on prior to arriving at the airport.  

Fortunately, at BÈIS we carry a line of hardside luggage sets specifically designed for carry-on purposes. Our21” Carry On Roller suitcase will fit perfectly in any overhead compartment and eliminates the fear of a potential checked bag fee. The Carry On Roller suitcase comes with easy glide 360° spinner wheels, tons of luggage space, a cushioned handle, and even an indicator window that will light up red if you surpass 50 lbs when packing (no battery required)!

With a carry on suitcase, you have the opportunity to ditch a checked bag entirely, even when packing for a longer trip. A rolling luggage bag can be easier on your shoulders too! In a carry on suitcase, one packing tip is bringing along items such as:

  • Clothes (we recommend using packing cubes)
  • Toiletries (that follow TSA and airport security guidelines)
  • Electronics
  • An extra pair of shoes

Basically, anything that fits in your suitcase and is allowed inside a carry-on can be packed in this form of luggage. Sometimes opting for a larger carry-on instead of a checked bag is a great way to save time and money on baggage fees. Don't forget to create your carry on packing list beforehand so you don't forget any travel essentials.

2 women waking away with backpacks and weekender bags hanging off their shoulder

TSA Guidelines

When packing for a flight, it’s important to understand the TSA rules and regulations regarding what items you can bring. Checked bags typically offer a little more leeway when it comes to packing restrictions. If you’re planning on bringing a carry-on bag, it’s vital to remember these guidelines:

  • Containers of liquids or creams must contain 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less
  • All liquid items must fit in a 1 quart, clear plastic bag
  • A maximum of 1-quart bag is allowed per passenger
  • Electronics must be removed from your bag during TSA screening
  • No food that isn’t purchased at the airport, post-screening
  • No weapons, explosives, or sharp objects

The TSA has a long list of prohibited and accepted items, so always remember to double-check online if you’re ever unsure about bringing something in your carry on.

What Moms Should Pack In Their Carry On

Despite extensive restrictions for carry-on items, TSA understands the fact that babies have certain needs that can’t be put on hold because of a flight. This means you don't have to go through the hassle of putting all your child's necessities in your checked luggage. The following items are perfectly acceptable to bring in your carry on:

  • Baby formula and breast milk (3.4 ounces or less)
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers
  • Baby powder
  • Baby carrier

If you’re a mom searching for the perfect baby-friendly carry-on, look no further than our functionalDiaper Bag. Who said backpack diaper bags have to look like they have diapers in them? This stylish bag comes equipped with tons of pockets to fit essentials for you and your little one. The diaper bag even comes with a built-in teething ring to help avoid any mid-flight meltdowns, especially during a long flight.

What About Mile High Diaper Changes?

For baby luggage on the lighter side, try our Changing Organizer. With a portable changing matt, pockets for diapers and wipes, and a slick material that’s perfect for easy cleanup, this product is ultra travel-friendly and makes diaper changes on the go easier than ever.

Moms have places to be just like anyone else, and they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their baby’s comfort in order to get there!

Hit The Skies in Style with The Best Luggage Brand

Packing a carry on has never been easier (or more fashionable) than with BÈIS luggage

We get it, packing for a flight is stressful. It’s also not the most exciting endeavor. But a good packing job can reduce future stress that could potentially ruin your trip. Our luggage pieces come with enough packing space that you won’t find yourself having to make the tough decision of which pair of boots to leave behind. Save yourself the heartbreak and pack everything you want in your BÈIS bag.

Ditch the grueling baggage claim line and start enjoying your vacation by using these helpful tips when packing a carry-on. Good luck, and safe travels!


TSA. What Can I Bring? https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all

packing tips

Related Products and Articles

1 of 12