Packing a Carry-On for International Flights

I’m what they call a wee bit Type A.

{my real life friends are doubled over with laughter right now}

I make lists.  And sometimes even lists of my lists.  I like to be organized and am generally happier when everything is in its place.  And the rest of the Felt So Cutes like to reap the benefits of my insanity since they pretty much can always find what they need.

Since it’s almost time for Spring Break and we’re headed on an adventure, I thought I’d share how I pack my carry on for International flights.

Here is my bag and its contents ~

Now let me walk you through it all.

I always carry a folder on the plane with printouts of all the flight and hotel arrangements in case I can’t get cell phone access to pull something up if there’s a problem.  I also have print-outs of any excursions we’ve booked and contact information for hotel transfers as well.  I am officially the Keeper of the Passports.  We each have a different colored case so that its easy to pass them out without needing to open each one.  I also make sure to carry a pouch with several pens when traveling to another country since I know I’ll be handed a customs form on the plane, and the flight attendants only have so many pens on them.  And of course my wallet for cash and credit cards.  I try to make sure to have cash in the currency of both my departure and arrival countries.

Next are my electronics.  I carry these with me since I don’t want to take any chances with my checked luggage.  We usually bring both a small laptop and iPads so that we have them for movies and games as we are usually seated two and two on planes.  The big green pouch holds all my chargers for the assorted electronics {labeled, of course ~ like you doubted it!} and inside holds my little green pouch for headphones and also the small point and shoot camera as well.

When we travel, I rarely bring my full camera bag anymore, and instead use this great padded wrap we found in Tokyo for the DSLR.

You simply lay it on top of the pad, fold the sides in like you’re wrapping a present and then secure it with the elastic cord and toggle and stick it directly in the bag.  It protects the camera really well and takes up much less space.

I find that temperatures on planes are usually rather chilly, especially if traveling to a warm destination.  So I always pack a pair of my socks to slip on when I go to sleep since I’m often wearing sandals for a Spring Break trip {the ones they give you are always way too big for my feet} and also I bring a scarf.  Scarves can be great rolled up as a pillow and in a pinch once during a very long delay made an outstanding Super Girl cape when The Cuties were younger!

The last things to pack are my sunglasses and a pouch with all the little things I don’t want to get lost at the bottom of the bag.  Inside it are my reading glasses, tissues, ponytail holders, cough drops, a mini toothbrush & floss kit, my inhaler, an emergency cell phone charger, wipes, soap {mini sheets}, a nail file, lip balm, spare contact lenses, band aids, and a little container with my migraine meds and children’s Tylenol.

So that’s everything {are you convinced I’m a total packrat, LOL?}!  And it all fits easily with room to spare.

{Helpful Hint: since most bags have two water bottle pockets, use one to put your socks in the bottom and then roll your scarf in a tube for easy access!}

And here’s the inside.  I did add my giant pill container for all my prescription meds.  It’s always important to travel with these on you and never to check them in case of lost baggage! {Jewelry should follow this same rule of thumb, but for this particular trip I’m wearing anything good and only packing fun stuff, so no worries!}

And a very cool feature of this bag is the convertible backpack straps.  While my Cuties are great about carrying their own backpacks at their ages, I still travel alone with them, and it’s nice to be able to move hands-free when I have to push a big luggage cart.

Of course, ALL your bags should have luggage tags on them.  Are you at all surprised that my luggage tags are Lilly Pulitzer ones?  Does Cute BFF know me well or what?

Note: I never travel with a purse for all day trips like this.  I find it to be too much of a hassle.  It’s much easier to use one big bag and then just pack a purse inside my suitcase.

Many of you have asked about my orange bag.  It’s from L.L. Bean.  They no longer carry this bag on their website, but it’s been a recent enough purchase that you might luck out and find it in an actual L.L. Bean store or try calling their online customer service directly to see if they can scrounge one up for you {it came in a few other colors as well}.

Linked to:

C.R.A.F.T., Skip to My Lou, Tip Junkie, Home Stories A to Z, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Organize and Decorate Everything

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33 Responses to Packing a Carry-On for International Flights

  1. Mitzi says:

    What perfect timing! We leave in 12 days. Thank you.

  2. C says:

    We pack very similarly. I would add anti-bacterial gel and lotion to your small bag. I also pack an empty CamelBack water bottle and have the stewardess fill it with water during the flight. They don’t leak. My kids are too little to carry their own bags so I usually end up packing two bags. If I am alone with the two kids I pack one with my stuff and snacks and with toys in the other. If there are two parents I pack one bag for each child and then it doesn’t matter which parent sits where. I use a diaper bag with lots of pockets for one carry-on and a backpack with wheels for the other–I can carry them both if I am alone or the 5 year old can pull the backpack on wheels.

    What brand is that carry-on bag?

  3. kelly says:

    this is so helpful! this summer i’ll be flying to germany with my little boy who will be 3. where did you get that orange bag?

  4. Kelly S says:

    Awesome packing tips! I see that the orange bag is LL Bean – I searched their website briefly but I don’t see it. Did you buy it recently or is it an older bag? I pack like you and have all of the important stuff together. That bag would work better for me than what I’m currently using. Thanks for posting your ideas!

  5. feltsocute says:

    Great reminder about the water bottles! I usually pack the type that fold flat and expand to stand tall when filled, however for this particular trip we need to drink bottled water, so I am not bothering to bring them. I’ve stopped carrying a separate Purell in my carry on because of security and use antibacterial wipes that are safe for sensitive skin, but don’t need to be removed for the scanners. I pack my lotion in my toiletries bag, but totally understand if you choose to bring it with you onboard.

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  7. Kelly S says:

    I have scoured the internet and LL Beans website and I have come up empty handed. Is the orange bag discountinued? I even checked ebay. I was searching for “LL Bean Convertible”. If you bought it recently, can you post a link to the bag? Thanks!!
    ~obsessed bag lover:)

  8. feltsocute says:

    They may no longer have stock of it as it’s not on their website ~ so sorry! It’s called an Expedition Tote. You might try calling them directly and asking if they have one or two tucked away somewhere they could sell you (I’ve done that before with their customer service and had luck).

  9. Dana says:

    Perfect timing since our Spring Break vaca is coming soon! I’m sure nothing as exciting as yours. Curious, what goes in your girls bags?

  10. Kelly Smith says:

    Thanks for the reply! I had a little too much time on my hands today and I found the bag online! It is out of stock and I emailed customer service and they said it will be back in stock later this summer or early fall. So I’ll just have to be patient 🙂 Thanks!

  11. feltsocute says:

    Yay – so glad they were able to help you!

  12. feltsocute says:

    I am a stickler for “you bring it, you carry it!” But generally speaking, they have Kindles, snacks(!), Nanos loaded with TV shows (and extra big deal since they don’t get all of those living in Japan now), sketch pads and colored pencils (remember sharpeners), lovies & kid-sized sleep masks for overnight flights, tissues, sticker books & stickers, Uno, and Little Cutie still likes to bring a small baggie of Barbies or Polly Pockets. They both also have very thin, small blanket/pashminas we once bought while traveling that they sleep wrapped up in, folded as pillows or also wear as scarves.

  13. Shiloh says:

    These are some great tips. I like to always have a book or two as well. I’m afraid my bag ends up a little (lot) more jumbled than yours.:)

  14. feltsocute says:

    The best thing about an iPad is that it corrals my previously daunting poundage of books and magazines!!!

  15. Ashley says:

    Wow I can’t believe how much stuff fits into your bag!! Where did you get those colorful passport covers?

  16. Amanda H says:

    Anywhere in the states that you can buy the “camera blanket” I’ve given up hauling my camera bag but just put the SLR in my purse and its not really safe there.

  17. feltsocute says:

    I’d try a true camera shop and if they don’t have it, I’ve seen similar ones on Amazon.

  18. feltsocute says:

    My husband’s is from Coach and my green one was from a local luggage shop back in CT but the Cuties’ I found at Marshall’s for about $5.99 each!

  19. Traci says:

    I just ordered this exact same bag from the LL Bean website. It is the only color in stock but they do have it. 🙂 I can’t wait to get it!!! Thanks so much for the tips on carry ons. I’m an organized junkie!!

  20. Ashley says:

    Hi I loved this post! Thanks for letting me know where to look for the passport covers. I love the idea of color coding them to easily designate them to each child. ( we have 5 kids and love to travel !). I was wondering how your kids load the tv shows and movies on their iPads. Is there a better ( and cheaper) way besides iTunes ? 🙂 We have Netflix on the iPads, but can only use with wifi service and most planes we go on dont have wifi. Help, I’m going broke, haha!

  21. feltsocute says:

    My kids put shows on their Nanos and we do movies on the iPads. We do it all through iTunes ~ I’m sorry I have no other advice that’s more cost-effective!

  22. Andrea says:

    Love the post. As a diabetic, I always include some snacks in case I get stuck. And a extra large ziplock which I use to line the seat pocket which can be full of nasty germs from gross stuff people stick in there (I’ve seen people stick in dirty diapers!). For long flights I like the spray Evian water for your face (4hoursor more not little locals)

  23. Kelly Smith says:

    Oh wow! I just checked and it’s out of stock again! Bummer – I’ll keep checking though! How much was it? Since it’s out of stock the price isn’t shown.

  24. Traci says:

    Yes it was $69.00. I got the order confirmation saying it is being processed and will be delivered by the 30th so maybe they got a few in and were out of stock again. Maybe they will get more in soon!! I am looking forward to getting mine. Good luck!

  25. Liz says:

    as someone who was stranded in both Colombia and Uganda for a week before my luggage actually found me – I can’t stress enough just squeezing in one pair of undies & a top (tank, t-shirt, long sleeve, whichever is appropriate) being caught without is never a good situation! but this list is pretty amazing!

  26. La says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, I LOVE this post & have bookmarked it after referring to it several times! 🙂 (i am a planner! but i hope to one day be as organized as you!) I am so happy that LL bean is carrying this tote again but thought you might be interested in knowing that the vera Bradley convertible diaper bag is quite similar to this bag & has lots of fun patterns or a sophisticated black quilted pattern you may love! I just got one to use for my almost 7 month old but can’t wait to use it as a travel bag (…one day…! Lol) it is sturdy & I love the useful & practical over the shoulder/messenger/backpack conversion options & sturdy construction! & of course diaper bags are fantastically organized with tons of mesh pockets inside, then this one has 2 open outer pockets & a closed pocket w/ magnetic closure, & 2 bottle pockets on the sides. Plus I LOVE the waterproof liner 🙂 I hope you’ll check it out & maybe you’ll even love them as much as I? Looking forward to your next posts 🙂

  27. Heather says:

    I loved your post; I found it on Pinterest but forgot to pin. It’s taken me about 2 months to find it again! (properly pinned this time!) I found the expedition tote online, (on sale- Score!) I figured others might want to know it is back in stock!:

  28. Sarah says:

    I know it’s been 2 years since you posted this, and probably 10 since you actually bought it, but where is the green pouch with your cords in it from. The link doesn’t work. I want it! But my googling skills are letting me down. Thanks!

  29. Pingback: Travel Update I: Prepping for an International Flight - Right Where I Left Off

  30. brightonchalets says:

    When you are about to travel for a vacation always make sure that you have with you all the documents you need, pocket money and some medicines.

  31. This post is a LIFE SAVER! I am going on a missions trip to Honduras and have been looking for the perfect carry on. I am super type A as well! This is amazing. Any luck on having another link for the green and pink bags in this post, I read the comments and the Amazon link is no longer good. Or any key words to search for a similar bag. Thanks for posting the name of the LL bean bag. They’re out again I’m going to try calling or checking at a local outlet.

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