In this post, we list out what we consider our carry-on travel essentials. It's perfect for those wanting to travel light!

Our Carry-On Travel Essentials

In this post, we list out what we consider our carry-on travel essentials. It’s perfect for those wanting to travel light!

Carry-On Travel Essentials

We are often asked what are our favorite travel items are. As digital nomads, we have to travel with as little things as possible but these items are the things we can’t travel without…


First things first… a bag. On weekend trips we always travel with our Osprey Celeste Laptop Backpack. It’s durable and can fit a lot of stuff. We’ve managed to fill it with two laptops and enough clothes for four days (rolling your clothes is a game changer!).

And since we fly on a lot of budget airlines that like to charge for additional bags, this backpack is perfect because it’s still small enough to be considered a personal item. We don’t ever pay extra for bags.

At the airport with Osprey Celeste backpack one of our Our Carry-On Travel Essentials
At the airport, waiting to board! 🙂

Neck Pillow

We absolutely LOVE our Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Travel Pillow. You can use it as a normal neck pillow, or you can convert it into a normal rectangular size pillow.

It’s so cool that it gives us two options (we’ve seen people watch us as we change it from one to the other) and it has fleece on one side so it’s extra soft. We’ve also used it as a normal pillow when we’ve stayed at places where the pillows were thin and we needed a little extra support.

Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Travel Pillow

Scarf / Pashmina / Towel

Since we like to pack light, we found the perfect all in one. We love our Cacala Turkish Bath Towel. We’ve used it as a pashmina at cold airports, as a sarong at the beach, and as a towel in hostels. It’s 100% cotton, soft, dries quickly, and takes up less room than regular towels. We have the 37 x 70 inch size (95 x 175 cm) in blue.


Obviously if you’re not checking any bags, you’ll need to keep any liquids to a minimum and each has to be less than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters). We like this silicone travel bottles because of the material. We can easily put our shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in there and since it’s a bit squishy it’s easier to stuff into our clear quart-sized bag.

Something else we always carry in our toiletry bag is antibacterial wipes. We’re not crazy germophobes, but we’ve read enough about all the crazy bacteria on planes that we now always wipe down our tray table and arm rests when we first sit down on a plane. Plus, you never know when else they may come in handy. We prefer Wet Ones wipes because they come in small resealable travel packs.

Packing Cubes

We’d heard people rave about packing cubes for a long time, and we finally got some for ourselves. We love them because they help keep or clothes so organized! Plus, we feel like we’re able to squeeze more clothes into them. The packing cubes that we have are the eBags Packing Cubes in red.

eBags packing cubes packing essentials


Our Sony A5000 camera goes everywhere with us. We like it because it’s not too big, takes better photos than a regular point and shoot, and it has built-in WiFi so we can quickly transfer photos directly to our phone. There are newer Sony Alpha series cameras now (we bought ours a few years ago), but we really recommend it. Especially if you want to be able to post to Instagram quickly without having to download your photos to a computer.

Another one of our carry-on travel essentials is our Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s light, thin, and we’ve managed to get a lot of work done on it.

Working poolside in Costa Rica
Working poolside in Costa Rica

Having a good pair of earbuds is a must as well. We use them on planes, we’ve used them on hop-on / hop-off bus tours (instead of using the cheap ones they provide), and also in hostels when we’ve needed to drown out noise. We have a pair of Sony Ex Series earbuds. They come in a variety of colors, but we chose pink instead of the usual black so it stands out more in our bag when we go to look for them.

Since we have a few electronics with us, we always have a portable charger with us as well, since you never know when you’ll be able to find an outlet. We recommend this Anker Ultra Compact Portable Charger.

And if you’re worried about your cell phone getting wet, we recommend getting a waterproof case for it. There are a lot of brands out there, and you may think that you have to buy a really expensive one. But we bought a Meritcase Waterproof Case for our Samsung and it worked great and for a lot less money.

Swimming with manatees in Crystal River
We took this photo with our phone when we went swimming with manatees in Crystal River, Florida

Passport / Credit Cards

We always make sure to have all of our forms of identification and credit cars in a safe place in our backpack, somewhere not easily accessible to others. We also always travel with a photocopy of our passport, kept in a separate pocket.

Medications / Prescriptions

We try to keep a few items with us on every trip, including things like headache medicine, pills for upset stomach, and even band-aids. The last thing you want is to be searching for medicine when you’re not feeling well.

Itineraries / Confirmations

We also print out all of our tour itineraries and flight and hotel confirmations. We hate to rely on computers or WiFi, so we’d rather have the hard copy on hand, just in case.


Have you ever needed to fill out a customs form and not had a pen? It’s a pain isn’t it?? That’s why we always travel with a pen. Plus, it may be a conversation starter when the person next to you needs to borrow it lol!

BTTM Travel Gear

And last but not least, we always travel with our Buddy The Traveling Monkey travel gear! We’re always so happy when people stop us and ask us about it. You can visit our online store TheTravelingMonkey and get all kinds of inspirational travel gear with our logo as well as photos that we’ve taken throughout our adventures. We have items like passport covers, luggage tags, flip flops, clothing, and even cell phone covers. Make sure to click on View All Products because we have quite a bit. 🙂

Buddy The traveling monkey products, part of Our Carry-On Travel Essentials

Final Thoughts On Our Carry-On Travel Essentials

So there you have them, our carry-on travel essentials. Feel free to click on any of the links in this post if you’d like to find out more about each product, or click on any of the photos below. We hope you’ll find this post helpful!

Click below to see our favorite carry-on items

Zazzle luggage tag

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In this post, we list out what we consider our carry-on travel essentials. It's perfect for those wanting to travel light!

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  1. Great post! I love my packing cubes and couldn’t agree more, they really change how much I can fit in my bag.

    1. Hi Anna Marie! We can’t believe it took us this long to buy them! lol

    1. Oh yes, a plug adapter is so important too! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Those packing cubes are an awesome idea. Made it easy to pack a lot of stuff in a small bag and still keep it separated.

    1. Yes!! They’re one of the best things we’ve ever bought! 😀

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