The “Carry-on Travel” Packing List


One essential to carry-on travel, in my experience, is to have complete packing lists. They make both the challenges and benefits work better. Not only do they make sure I won’t forget things, but they keep me from over-packing! Which, by the way, experts feel is the number one travel mistake.

Not everything on this list gets packed for every trip. Take only what you need.

Wardrobe: (Including what you have on)

2-4 Pants, shorts, or skirts Neutral colors, quick-dry fabrics or jeans
4-6 Shirts, blouses, or tops In colors that make a capsule wardrobe
1 Dressy jacket or cardigan + Neck tie or 2 Silk scarves (more outfits)
1 Outdoor jacket or coat  + Travel umbrella ?
1 Shawl or pashmina Double as throw or swimsuit cover
1 Swimsuit or thermal underwear  (Or shorts for swimming)
2 pair Shoes Packed in cloth bags (odors/dirt);
Shoes that work as both shoes/slippers, etc.
3 pair Socks/hose  1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean
3 sets Undergarments  1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 clean
1-2 sets Sleep wear Sweat suits or swimsuit covers do double-duty
1 Belt   Emergency suitcase handle or Tourniquet
1 Hat + Gloves  For sun/rain or cold
1 Bandana  Scarf, headband, hair tie, neck tie
2 cloth Handkerchiefs For nose, as wash cloth, emergency sanitary pad

Laundry & Toiletries:


1 bag Soap nuts or organic soap powder No liquids to spill or get through customs
1 Universal sink stopper Fits any sink
1 Laundry bag Keeps refolded dirty clothes separated
1 Homemade travel clothesline (clothespin free) Or buy one here.

Note: if I’m out of laundry soap powder, I take a bar Laundry soap instead.


Soap + shampoo Both in bars (no liquids)
Deodorant Stick or crystal (no liquids)
Toothbrush + tooth powder No liquids
Waxed Dental floss + needle Thread, tie things, fire starter, shoe laces, clothesline,
cut food, quiet drippy faucet, cutter cuts threads
Coconut oil Hand/skin cream, makeup remover, shaving cream,
aftershave, hair conditioner, baby lotion, lip balm
Comb/brush + mirror  Mirror: signal reflection in emergency
Nail clipper + file + razor  Snip threads, shave sweaters
1 Towel + 1 wash cloth Peshtemals, fast-drying, compact, lightweight – but huge!
Towel doubles as robe, sheet/blanket, and many things!
Bandana Wash cloth, hair towel
Hair dryer  Travel-size, dual voltage

Tools & Repairs:

Special Tools:

Compass For map-reading in a metropolis or wilderness travel
Flashlight  Tiny, dynamo-powered
Carabiner clips Clip bags together, clip items to bags, hang up flashlight
Whistle Calling a taxi, self-defense, emergencies
Suitcase locks Even for carry ons in overhead bins to prevent theft
Door lock  Hotel, train, etc.


Eyeglass repair kit
Sewing kit Buttons, needles + threader, safety pins, threads (thread braid)
Safety pin uses: Repair hems; Hold drapes, pockets, bag/purse zippers shut;
Replace buttons & zipper pulls; Clothespins; Secure bandages
Leatherman tool (Not in carry ons)
Extra shoe laces Also use as carry cords, make-shift suitcase handles, tying things

Tiny Repair Kit: (in own case; see above)

Rubber bands/elastics: Bookmarks, keep items together, non-slip hangers
Small binder clips Bookmarks, protect razor blades, keep items together
Bread twist ties Keep things together, fasten luggage tags, zipper pulls
Lengths of cord, twine, string Tying things together, pants legs shut (anti-insect)
Matches Strike as air freshener, light fires

Comforts & Paperwork:


Travel pillow  Inflatable
Travel blanket Of lightweight viscose (held rolled by elastic band)
Bandana (from clothing) Use as eye mask or window shade on car/train/bus
Eye mask + Ear buds Wrap ear buds around square plastic bread clips
Reading material Small, lightweight; device batteries can run down
Mini playing cards Measure less than 1 x 2.5 inches (2.5 x 6.35 cm)


Small notebook  Make your own minimalist notebook
Tiny Post-it® notes Bookmarks, leave a note
Addresses Either a book or on device
Phone calling cards Don’t forget to take phone numbers & country access codes
Documents & Valuables Passports, visas, IDs, licenses, tickets, reservations, vaccinations
Money, bank cards, credit cards, personal checks;
Security pouch (to wear under clothes);
(Keep copies, scans, or photos of documents separately)

Travel aids & Special items:

Travel aids:

Day pack I use either my zip-off backpack OR
Compact, foldable nylon backpack from IKEA®
Tiny purse See below
Maps, Guide books, Phrase books Or photocopies of pertinent pages

Speciality items:

Laptop or tablet + charger  + adapter?
Phone + charger  + adapter?
Computer key, SD card Data storage
Camera + charger Also use as a “visual notebook
Mini tripod

Health & 1st Aid:

1st Aid Medicines: (plus recommended natural remedies):

White willow Pain & fever
Frankincense & Devil’s claw Anti-inflammatory, pain
Probiotic cultures (pill form)  Diarrhea, intestinal & tummy troubles
Ginger/Dried ginger root (sugar-coated) Motion sickness, nausea, colds, flu
Coconut oil
(with 2 drops of ea. essential oil as insect repellent)
Colds, flu, sunburn, sunscreen (SPF 4),
cold sores, Repellent: tea tree, citronella, peppermint
Tea tree cream   Wounds (antibiotic), anti-itch, after bite (insect)
Arnica cream Sprains, strains, bruises (external use ONLY)
ALWAYS seek advice from health professional  before taking or using any medicine or remedy!!

Medical & Sanitary Supplies:

Special tip: Pack these in a cute cosmetic pouch that could double as an evening bag; tip from

Band aids, gauze, medical tape Band aids for blisters, butterfly band aids
Antiseptic wipes For when water is unavailable
Tweezers & Scissors Scissors in carry on?
Pack of tissues Emergency toilet paper
Bandana (from clothing) Tourniquet; sun shade (for back of neck); face mask (dust);
wrap sprains; anti-mosquito neck scarf
Women’s sanitary needs  Moon cup is reusable
3rd world health/sanitary needs See’s suggestions

Other Medical:

Prescription medications Plus copies of Doctor’s prescriptions
Insurance paperwork  + vaccination records
Other over-the-counter medications Or herbal teas

Food & Picnic Supplies:


Granola-type bars Don’t crumble, keep well & good energy boosters
Cheese & bread sticks Store well out of fridge & good nutrition
Fruit & Fresh vegetables Stores well & good nutrition
Sandwich (in reusable bag) Olive oil & vinegar not mayonnaise;
pack lettuce & tomato separately

Picnic Supplies

Water bottle Refillable (possibly even collapsible)
Collapsible cup For wine, juice, cola, etc.; use as toothbrush holder
Fork, knife, spoon (mini camping set) + IKEA® paring knife with own protective sheath
Corkscrew What’s a picnic without wine?
Collapsible bowl (Tupperware®) + lid Doubles as dish pan, laundry tub; Use lid as plate
Cloth napkin + bandana (with clothing) Bandana doubles as place mat, dish rag, or dish towel

Now, lest I get accused of perjury, I want to state that my packing list has ideas I’ve gleaned from various places.

There are many great sites out there that discuss minimal or simple travel, and I’ve learned so much from them! We’re just apprentices. But I’ve published my packing lists because they’re tailored a bit more to our needs. And I always know right where to find them!

These are the pros, and I suggest you check out their sites: and Rick Steve’s page on Packing Smart and Traveling Light!

And one last thing. Here are two of my most special items:

Tiny Travel Purses
Tiny Travel Purses

I don’t take my regular purse when traveling. Our special luggage (a small backpack on wheels) comes equipped with a handy zip-off, smaller backpack.

As most of our travel is for ministry (or business, you could say), this works great. It’s made for carrying either a tablet or up to 15-inch laptop. And has a handy organizer section where we can keep office supplies organized.

And this makes taking a larger purse both unnecessary and a nuisance. So I travel with this handy tiny purse. With car travel, Mario likes taking his regular bag along. Because yes, men carry bags here in Europe! And he loves his “man bag,” as he’s never liked sitting on wallets. But I also take his tiny (red) bag along, because I can take any necessary liquids along in it. And if we take a day trip, he can just grab the tiny bag instead.

You know how most women have little cosmetic pouches in their bags?

Well, to simplify my packing, I keep my tiny purse right inside my everyday handbag. When it’s travel time, I just pull it out, and I’m ready to go. I always keep pen, paper, phone charger, camera charger, etc. in my smaller zip-off backpack, so all I need are the extra essentials I keep in the tiny purse! It sure has simplified things!

Have you ever tried traveling with just one carry on bag? Even if you don’t think you could do it, give it a try!

Because travel should be about good memories and new experiences. Not aching backs and stress! Buon viaggio!

[Images ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

2 thoughts on “The “Carry-on Travel” Packing List

  1. These are really great tips! I am a serial over packer! I always seem to pack for the just in case events that never actually happen. I always say I’m going to do a better job next time, and maybe this time I will. LOL!


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