10 Items to ALWAYS Keep In Your Carry-On

[S]he who would travel happily must travel light.

Happy Travel Tip Thursday, travelers!

I am officially embarking on another summer adventure and I am so excited about it. I have not been feeling well this week but I am praying that the impending sunshine is just what I need to get my body out of this funk.  As to be expected, because my body was not at 100%, I was not looking forward to packing for this three-week trip.  Thankfully, I keep certain items in my carry-on at all times so I am not stressing when it is crunch time.  Curious about what I think you should always have packed in your carry-on? Keep reading!


1. Mini Emergency Kit

The worst thing that could happen while on vacation would probably be needing some sort of medical attention and not having the proper equipment with you.  If you are on a secluded resort with limited transportation options or if it late at night, you definitely do not want the additional stress of looking for gauze pads. Why not alleviate some trouble by having a mini-emergency kit packed in your carry-on? Hopefully, you will never need it, but if you do, you are prepared and you will save some money! Foreign hospital bills can be a major expense and why bother for something minor? 

2. Washcloth

I remember going to Cartagena, Colombia and being at the market with my sorority sisters looking for washcloth sized towels. Guess what? There weren't any. So what we decided to do was purchase some cloths, cut them on our own, and create makeshift washcloths.  Then, I got to Europe, realized I had forgotten to pack one yet again but I had a travel-sized loofah with me so I was in the clear.  Long story short, keep a washcloth packed! Get a collection dedicated exclusively to travel if you want, but do not be surprised when you receive the finest of towels only to fend for yourself when you are in the shower. 

3. A Makeup Kit

I used to have super bulky makeup palettes and I struggled with fitting them inside of my carry-on while I was traveling.  Then, I would get to my location to discover that I was out of my eyeliner or lipstick.  I made a decision to charge it to the game and purchase extra makeup that was solely for my carry on.  I would no longer have to remember to pack that gold eyeshadow or liquid eyeliner because it was already in my kit.  See if you can get a slim palette from a makeup company you enjoy and add it to your travel belongings. Don't forget your chapstick! 

4. Travel Umbrella

Listen. I don't care what the forecast says where you are going, bring the umbrella! I have lived in climates prone to hurricanes long enough to know that sometimes the weather man/woman LIES! The forecast for Miami in July could be sunny all week, but I guarantee at least one time during the day a pop-up shower is going to come.  Because this umbrella is dedicated exclusively to your carry-on, do not worry about it being cute.  Does it serve its purpose to keep you dry in the rain? Yes. Well, alright, keep that thing packed in your carry-on and keep it there so that you do not have to worry about it if you are ever surprised on your travels. 

5. Scarf

The scarf is truly my MVP while I am traveling because it has so many uses.  I injured my shoulder in Panama and created a makeshift sling.  I am naturally cold due to my anemia and like to keep my face covered in flight.  Sometimes, my hair just does not want to cooperate and sometimes modesty is required to be admitted into certain tourist sites and my shoulders need to be covered.  As you can see, a scarf is extremely valuable.  Select a color that will match a bulk of your outfits (black or neutral) and keep it with your carry-on collection so you are always prepared and it might even save you some money when your friends are demanded to purchase a shawl. You'll be fabulous and functional. 

6. Allergy / pain medicine.

Oh... the memories. I remember being on a spiritual high when I finally made it to Paris, got to visit Angelina with the most delicious white hot chocolate, only to not be able to enjoy it because I was going through a bonafide allergy attack and I was miserable.  I ended up retreating to my hostel and forcing myself to sleep with some tea, when I could have rectified it by packing medication with me. Now, don't look like you're moving weight with your medicine but I've been to enough pharmacies abroad to know I'm more comfortable with taking something I am familiar with. 

7.  Satin Pillow Case

This will be a new one for me but it is something I should have begun practicing a long time ago. As a traveler with natural hair, I'm always thinking about how to protect my Afro while moving around. I have yet to see many hotels or hostels with a satin pillow case and just in case I don't have my handy-dandy scarf, we have a backup plan. 

Related Post: Traveling While Natural: The Art of Protective Styles

8. Power Adapter

When I arrived in Portugal last summer I was determined not to purchase an adapter in the airport because, budget.  Thankfully, there were enough stores by my hostel that I was able to secure one for 5 euros.  It was functional in Northern Africa, Europe, and the United States.  Trust me when I say that they are invaluable and you do not want to be running around looking for power when your electronics are in the red.  Aside from that just being a safety issue, it is convenient to know that you are always covered.  This ties into number 9... 

9. A battery power pack

Back when they were first introduced, battery power packs were more expensive. Now that they are sold in a multitude of stores (including Five Below), there is really no excuse not to have one.  If having a battery pack for your devices doesn't strike you for the convenience factor, do it for the safety factor. You never know when you might need to make an emergency call while abroad and you will not have the time to look for a wall outlet. 

10. Important telephone numbers 

If I challenged you to spit out three vital cell phone numbers, could you do it? Thankfully, I have my mother, godfather, best friend, and le boo all memorized, but I can admit there was a time when I didn't. I read stories about travelers having their phones / wallets stolen while abroad and not being able to call their loved ones because of heavy reliance on cell phones. God forbid something happens to you while on a trip, I want you to be able to operate as seamlessly as possible. Keep those numbers stashed and add in the number for the U.S. Embassy in that list while you're at it.

Last and not least, dear traveler, I leave you with this.  Imagine an emergency happened and you have one minute to evacuate the aircraft.  What could you absolutely positively not travel without or replace? Whether that item is your laptop, passport, or something near and dear to your heart, keep it in your carry-on under your seat. You will not have time to go in the overhead bins so make sure you are moving swiftly and packing smart! 

What's an item that you always pack inside your carry-on? Let's share our best travel tips in the comments and be sure to share this post with anyone in your circle that is preparing for a trip.  Happy travels!