Over the past 2.5 years, I’ve made 8 long haul flights between South Korea and the USA. Each trip included a 4hr bus trip, a 12-15hr flight (depending on the direction), plus additional 1-2 flights to get to my final destination. That being said, there are 10 carry-on essentials that I always pack in my Cabin Zero bag.

Here we go, my top 10 Carry-On Essentials:

iPad (or some other tablet) 

I have an old-school iPad 2 that I load up with movies, tv shows, and games. I almost always wind up watching the in-flight entertainment, but it is nice to have it as a backup. I always include long movies, short movies (and cartoons), and several episodes of easy-to-watch tv shows.

Carry-on essentials: iPad or tablet


Portable Charger

While living in Korea, I was first introduced to the amazing world of good cell phone chargers. They are MUCH cheaper in America! While I was home for Christmas, my mom bought me the Poweradd Slim 2 and it is good for at least 2 full iPhone 5 charges.Carry-On Essentials: Portable Charger


Noise Cancelling Headphones

These are an absolute MUST for long-haul flights. I’ve found them the best for watching movies, listening to music, and sleeping. Of course, you should create a playlist of your favorite tunes to keep you happy! I have an older set of Bose (similar to these) and absolutely love them! 


These are my carry-on essentials for toiletries (including links to my favorites). Everyone is different, but I never forget to bring: Eye Drops, Blistex, Hand Lotion, Deodorant, Wet Wipes, Dry Shampoo, Toothbrush + Paste, and a mini First Aid Kit.

Carry-on Essentials: Toiletries

Sleep Mask

I’ve been using eye masks for years and am really liking my Dreamgirl sleep mask. It is lightweight, is convex by design, and doesn’t yank my hair out (no velcro hurray!).Carry-On Essentials: Sleep Mask

Microbead Pillow

I prefer the tube-shaped microbead pillows (like this one!) because I can use it as support for my back, or as a cuddle-buddy while I’m sleeping.


I keep any/all medicine with me in my carry-on. If it is prescription strength, I also keep a copy of the prescription for verification. I usually keep Benadryl, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and stuff for my stomach with me. *Make sure you check the rules and restrictions of the country you are traveling to. Just because it’s legal in your home country, doesn’t mean it’ll be legal where you’re going.


I ALWAYS bring an extra change of clothes with me. Sometimes I take a shower at the airport between flights and sometimes I just feel icky. Then again, occasionally my bags get delayed and it’s nice to have clean undies and socks!

Comfortable Shoes

Like most people, my feet swell on flights. I like to wear my Toms or Sketchers while I’m flying because they are comfortable and will give a little when I try to cram my swollen footsies back into them.

Gift for the Flight Staff

I saw this suggestion on a Facebook I belong to and now I will never take an international flight without bringing a little something to give to the Flight Staff. Just think, these lovely people are on their feet all day, have to eat airplane food every day, and have to deal with a plane full of grumpy butts! I recommend bringing something that’s easy to eat, individually wrapped, and still sealed.

Carry-on Essentials: Gift for the Flight Staff

There you have it! My top 10 Carry-On Essentials – they’ve made my long-haul flights much more bearable over the last 2+ years!  Pin me for later!

Top 10 Carry-On Essentials

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