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Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide by a 30-Year Flight Attendant

Welcome aboard! After 30 years of soaring through the skies as a flight attendant, I've mastered the art of packing efficiently. Today, I'm sharing my secrets to help you travel smarter, lighter, and stress-free. Let's dive into the ultimate carry-on packing guide, tailored just for you.

Flight Attendant

Understanding Carry-On Restrictions

Before we start packing, it's crucial to know the airline's carry-on restrictions. Size and weight limits can vary, so always check your airline's website for specific guidelines. A standard carry-on is typically 22" x 14" x 9".

MK Suitcase

The Essentials: What You Must Have

  1. Travel Documents: Passport, ID, boarding passes, and visas.

  2. Money and Cards: Keep cash, credit/debit cards, and a small wallet.

  3. Electronics: Phone, charger, adapter, and headphones.

  4. Health and Safety: Medications, masks, and a small first-aid kit.

  5. Comfort Items: Neck pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask.


Clothing: Smart and Versatile Choices

  1. Layering: Opt for layers rather than bulky items. Think lightweight jackets, cardigans, and scarves.

  2. Neutral Palette: Stick to a neutral color scheme for easy mix-and-match.

  3. Versatile Footwear: One comfortable walking shoe and a dressier option if needed.

  4. The Rule of Three: Three tops for every bottom. Choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics.

  5. Undergarments and Socks: Pack for half the number of days and plan to do laundry.

Packing Clothes

Toiletries: Compact and TSA-Compliant

  1. Travel-Sized Containers: Limit liquids to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) each.

  2. Essential Toiletries: Toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, and moisturizer.

  3. Makeup: Keep it minimal - a multipurpose palette, mascara, and lip balm.

  4. Sun Protection: Travel-sized sunscreen and lip balm with SPF.


Maximizing Space: Packing Techniques

  1. Roll, Don't Fold: Rolling clothes saves space and reduces wrinkles.

  2. Use Packing Cubes: These help organize and compress your items.

  3. Fill Dead Space: Tuck socks and other small items into shoes and corners.

Smart Packing

Staying Organized: The Key to Hassle-Free Travel

  1. Pack by Day: Use packing cubes to segregate outfits for each day.

  2. Tech Management: Use a small bag or case for cords and chargers.

  3. Essentials at Hand: Keep important items in an easy-to-access pocket.

Packing Cubes

Final Tips from the Sky

  1. Check the Weather: Pack according to the forecast of your destination.

  2. Snacks and Hydration: Bring refillable water bottles and healthy snacks.

  3. Be Prepared for Delays: Have a book, music, or games to keep you entertained.

Packing a carry-on like a seasoned flight attendant is all about smart choices and organization. Remember, less is more, and with these tips, you'll be traveling like a pro in no time. Safe travels and happy packing!


Ensure you pack essential items such as your computer, earphones, or iPad in your backpack. In the event the plane is crowded with luggage and last-minute gate personnel request tagging your roller board baggage to stow it in the cargo hold, it's wise to be prepared. This situation is more likely on smaller planes, so having important belongings in your carry-on ensures accessibility throughout your journey.

Expert Tips

Embark on hassle-free adventures with our expert packing tips! Dive into the Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide crafted by a seasoned flight attendant with 30 years of experience. Begin your journey smarter and lighter. Contact your MLS Custom Travel advisor today for personalized travel experiences. Safe travels!


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