What’s in My Carry-On?

I was always that girl in the airport with a huge bag stuffed to the brim, things flying out with every move I made. I was always forgetting things on the plane, forgetting things at home, and just felt like a total mess whenever I travelled. I took a trip to South Carolina and decided enough is enough—I needed to reform my messy ways. So here’s a messy girl’s guide to packing the perfect carry-on bag.

First Things First… Germs.

OK, don’t make fun of me, but I had to say this first because it really is so important and you probably already know this but don’t do anything about it:  Airports. Are. So. Dirty. No, I mean so dirty. So whenever I travel, I make sure that both Wet Ones and Purell are super easy to access. Now, here’s what you need to do.

The minute you get in your seat—before you touch anything—wipe down every inch. Yes, even the headrest because… ew, I can’t even think about it. The dirtiest, germ-iest parts of planes are the button you press to recline your seat, the handle of the window if you’re in the window seat, and the seatbelt buckles! Think of just how many people have picked their nose or coughed and then touched that thing! So before you touch the seat and then touch your face, remember to wipe down the entire area.


Planes get so, so cold—and I am never prepared for it. There has never been one flight, in my history of flying, that I haven’t needed another layer at one point or another. Even if you’re flying to Maui, bring a friggin’ sweater! For the past few months, every time I fly I bring my Bleusalt wrap, which is the most delicious thing on the planet and doubles as a cozy blanket if I sleep on the plane.

Extra Clothes:

Which reminds me… in my carry-on, I always, always have an extra change of clothes. No, I don’t bring an entire outfit, but if I’m wearing sweats on the plane, I’ll bring jeans, an extra shirt, and an extra pair of underwear to either change into on the plane or wear if my bag, god forbid, gets lost.  If your bag gets lost on the other side, you’ll thank yourself and think of it this way, you’ll save a little space in your checked bag. 

Compression Socks:

Compression socks are a lifesaver for those long flights with minimal leg room. They work like magic to increase your circulation and will help your legs not feel so stiff and bloated from being in the air all day! If you’re not into the whole sock look, opt for a CBD lotion that will relieve some of that in-flight tension and help get your circulation movin’. 

Electronics Pouch:

I’m a total freak who likes everything in a pouch. Whenever I travel, I always have at least three individual cosmetic bags—one for chargers, one for skincare/makeup, and another ‘emergency pouch’ just in case. Electronics is pretty self explanatory, but anything that has an on-off switch goes in this pouch: Earphones, computer charger, phone charger, mophie, converter–if you’re traveling out of the country–, anything that needs to be plugged in. Just having these handy makes traveling, and remembering to charge your phone, ten times easier.  

Skincare Pouch:

My skincare bag, on the other hand, is a little more complex. What to do with your skin while flying is another story, but here’s what I bring, in order of use:

Blaq Dual Sided Face Wipes, $13:

After you wipe down your seat, wipe down your face.

Blaq Charcoal Eye Mask, $30:

Best eye mask for jet-lagged eyes. Infused with charcoal to detox and de-puff your under-eyes.

Bioderma Makeup Remover/Micellar Water Travel Size $7

I take off all makeup the second I get my butt in my seat and this is like a magnet to makeup and will remove even the most stubborn residue to leave you with a clean face ready for flying. 

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 Mini

The cult-classic comes in a mini and gives us all something to be excited about. Or, if you haven’t tried this coveted toner, opt for the travel size before you commit to splurging!

Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, $280

Hyaluronic acid is the most important ingredient when you fly because it’s known as the moisture making acid and can hold up to 100 times its weight in water. Perfect for flying when your skin is deprived of all hydration and will leave your skin not looking like a shriveled up raisin by the time you land.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, $80

There’s a reason this is called the Jet Lag Mask. It combats jet lag induced dullness, dryness, exhaustion, and–best part– it doesn’t need to be washed off after you’re done masking. Just gently rub in the excess or take a tissue to dab, no bathroom necessary.

Weleda Skin Food $10

Weleda can be used all over your body but, especially on flights, I love to use it as a super heavy moisturizer for my face. I usually put this on as one of my last steps but it hydrates your skin and brings it back to life so quickly it’s like magic. May be a little heavy for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Dior Capture Youth Glow Booster, $89

This is a vitamin C, AHA miracle combo that targets dull skin and gives it a boost of brightness and glow that is more than necessary after flying.

Rosebud Salve, $7

The ultimate lip balm that I carry with me everywhere. I always forget to invest in lip balm but this one lasts forever and saves my cracked lips. I love it on top of a lipstick too to give amp up the post-plane dewiness.

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, $5

If you haven’t bought these yet, you need to. They work better than any other on the market and I cannot live without them.

I love taking the time on the plane—with zero shame of course—to put on a subtle cream or gel mask, my eye patches, and yes, even my acne patches. You may get looks from the person sitting next to you but, hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Makeup Pouch:

Then comes my makeup bag. I usually put the bare minimum of what I’ll need to not look like a zombie after a flight because it’s impossible to lug a heavy bag around the airport, and no one wants that. It’s hard to pick my favorites when it comes to my makeup, but I’ve had a lot of practice and I think I finally got it down to the essentials. If I’m wearing makeup on the plane, almost immediately upon finding my seat, I’ll use my travel size Bioderma micellar water because it never makes a mess and is the best for removing makeup quickly!

I also recommend packing products that have a dual purpose like a lip/cheek duo or a concealer that also doubles as a foundation—multisticks are great for this too and Nars has incredible ones, some of the best. I usually have my concealers—yes, the “s” is intentional—a beauty blender, lip balm, lip gloss, travel size Supergoop Setting Mist, Foundation, a Lip + Cheek tint, and mascara.

Emergency Pouch:

Now the last but certainly not least important bag of all: The emergency pouch. It really shouldn’t be called an “emergency” bag because I use it so often, but it’s saved me in a few terrible situations when I forgot something, so now I never leave home without it. I usually leave it in my car, but when I travel, I take it out of my glove compartment and into my carry-on! The emergency kit includes everything listed below, and believe me when I tell you it all fits in the tiniest bag when you pack it right:

– Brush
– Dry shampoo (travel-size)
– Tweezers
– Bobby Pins
– Razor
– Tide To-Go Pen
– Hair Ties
– Deodorant
– At least two doses of any/all medication you take
– Tampons
– Extra Contact Lenses
– Earring Backs
– Mini Beauty Blender
– Concealer
– Lip/Cheek Multistick

OK, I swear this is the last time I’ll say pouch. These are my favorites:

The Daily Edited Transparent Travel Case, $80
Stoney Clover Lane Clear Mini Pouch, $36
Anya Hindmarch Inflight Cosmetic Case, $285
Monda Studio Handy Clear Bag, $8


I always end up having to transfer my favorite products to travel-size bottles and it’s always a mess and crazy. I’ve decided that since I found the coveted Biologique Recherche P50V in a travel size, I now try to find minis of all my favorites, and I’m so excited I had to show you the best of the best.

Bioderma Micellar Water/Makeup Remover $7
Glossier Milky Jelly Mini, $18
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 $28
SK-II Pitera Essence Set, $99
Klorane Dry Shampoo, $20
Laura Mercier Mini Setting Powder, $35
Supergoop Setting Mist $28

So, I’ll pack all of this in my carry-on and then I’m good to go for the whole trip!