25 Carry-on Must-haves, According to T+L Editors in 2023 | by Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure / Kevin Liang

Whether you’re taking a backpack or a suitcase, packing a carry-on requires a thoughtful approach to make sure you’re including TSA-friendly items to have by your side while traveling to your destination. Our team at Travel + Leisure are frequent fliers and experts at recommending products that can improve your entire journey.

We asked T+L editors and writers to share their favorite carry-on essentials, and they delivered helpful tips and recommendations to consider for your next trip. From noise-canceling headphones to block out all outside sounds to comfortable shoes that will keep your feet cozy, these are our 25 carry-on must-haves.

White + Warren Cashmere Travel Wrap


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“Regulating the air temperature on board a plane is always a bit of a challenge — I find it’s best to layer, that way if you get too hot you can take off a sweater or jacket (and vice versa). One ‘layer’ that proves to be useful, time and again, is a cashmere travel wrap from White and Warren. You can use it as a shawl to keep warm; a blanket while you sleep; even as a pillow, folded delicately into a tight little square. It also looks great when you step off the plane, wearing a chic accessory!” — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

Price at time of publish: $335

Away The Insider Packing Cubes Set of 6


View On Awaytravel.com

“Packing cubes have completely transformed the way I travel. I love this set from Away, which comes with six cubes in different sizes, each with a mesh panel on top that allows you to see what’s inside. Since I’ve been using these, I’m able to stay more organized while packing and once I’ve reached my destination because everything has a place and stays there. In fact, if it wasn’t for this set, I probably wouldn’t have been able to fit a week’s worth of clothing and accessories on a trip to France this summer where I only used a carry-on.” — Madeline Diamond, Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $65

Dagne Dover Remi Glasses Case

Dagne Dover

View On Dagnedover.com

We love that this glasses case is eco-friendly and made of Dagne Dover’s 100 percent recycled Repreve polyester that is made from five plastic water bottles per case.

“If you’re like me, then you know packing one pair of glasses for a trip isn’t enough! Between my blue light glasses, polarized, and fun lenses I am usually carrying at least three different cases in my bag. That’s where this comes in, the Remi glasses case helps to securely hold three pairs of glasses in a hanging case!” — Jamie Aranoff, Digital Associate Editor.

Price at time of publish: $75

Chaco Women’s Ramble Puff


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“My ideal flight is one during which I fall asleep long before the drink tray rolls down the aisle and wake up just in time to check out the view of my destination. Obviously, conditions aren’t exactly optimal for sleep in the cabin. These plush high-tops from Chaco tackle one big hurdle: making your feet warm and comfortable enough to doze off. They’re so soft it’s like wrapping your toes in your favorite fleece, but they’ve got Chaco’s signature durability (including water resistance!) to stave off any wear and tear from trekking around in airports and outside. It’s a great way to get that amazing no-shoes feel without the germs or side-eye from a seatmate.” — Lydia Price, Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $80

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Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation)



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“These are by far my favorite pair of headphones I’ve ever owned. I find them much more comfortable than past Apple models, and the convenience factor of the small charging case is huge. The sound quality is good, and the noise-canceling also makes these good if you simply want to pop them in your ears without anything playing to drown out a little airplane noise and enjoy some quiet.” — Chris Abell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce

Price at time of publish: $249

Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth Transmitter


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“The headphones they hand out on planes are free for a reason. I was all too happy to say goodbye forever to static and tangled, too-short cords when I discovered this tiny device. Now I can use my AirPods to watch movies during a flight and move about freely without missing a word. AirFly Pro plugs into any headphone jack and links via Bluetooth so you can even use it to pair two sets of earbuds to watch something together if you’re stuck with a buddy, an airport delay, and one screen. However, be forewarned that these are a real conversation starter and be ready to provide shopping details to your airplane seatmate.” — Morgan Ashley Parker, Senior Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $55

Pacsafe Women’s Citysafe CX 17L Anti Theft Backpack-Fits


View On Amazon

“I’ve owned this backpack for years, and it’s my go-to bag for travel. Its professional style and padded laptop sleeve make it perfect for work trips, but I also love it for general travel — it has locking zippers to keep my belongings safe, a trolley sleeve for easy carrying with a suitcase, and two outside water bottle pockets.” — Jamie Hergenrader, Commerce Director, Travel

In addition to black, this anti-theft bag comes in navy, charcoal, merlot, and blush.

Price at time of publish: $170

Vlando Small Travel Jewelry Box


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“When most people think of travel organizers, they picture large packing cubes meant to be stuffed in checked luggage. But when your checked bags end up lost for hours (or even days) at a time, you’ll wish you’d stowed a few extra items in your carry-on. At 4 x 4 x 2 inches, Vlando’s Small Travel Jewelry Box is compact enough to easily store in any carry-on bag, yet it’s spacious enough to hold nearly a dozen pieces of jewelry and other small items like makeup and medicine bottles. It even comes in 28 colors and with removable dividers, so you can customize it to fit your specific travel needs.” — Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $20

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Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag


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“I started using a Baggu reusable bag when I lived in France because I would always walk by a flea or farmers market and I wouldn’t be able to fit everything I bought in my backpack or purse. It’s been four years now and I still don’t leave the house without it. It can easily fit into a backpack or purse and I love how it hasn’t ripped or been damaged after several years of everyday use. You just never know when you might need to stop by the store or carry something home, and this compact reusable bag is a lifesaver.” — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Price at time of publish: $14

Veronica Beard Ganita heels


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“I watched friends get forced to attend a wedding in Greece in flip-flops this summer after their checked luggage was lost en route. I usually fly in slip-on sneakers (like these, from Russell & Bromley), and now I’ll always stick a pair of heels or wedges in my carry-on — a neutral pair that could go with any dressy outfit — just in case.” — Nina Ruggiero, Digital Editorial Director

Price at time of publish: $350

Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle



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“Paying airport prices for bottled water is a hard no from me, not to mention a waste of plastic. Since I’m bound to get thirsty during a flight, I always bring my Hydro Flask water bottle and fill it up after going through security. It keeps water cold for hours on end and is thin enough to slip into most backpacks and seat-back pockets. Stainless steel also tastes great to drink out of and can take all the rough handling you can throw at it. I love my limited edition (sorry) bottle in honor of Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary, but there are plenty of colors to choose from too.” — Lydia Price, Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $45

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Hill House Home The Ellie Nap Dress


View On Hillhousehome.com

“I’m always nervous that my checked luggage will get lost, so I always stick a packing cube filled with the essentials in my carry-on bag (even if I’m just bringing a personal item on board). For me, that means underwear, socks (I love these Bombas socks when I travel), a hairbrush, deodorant, a light sweater or jacket, and an easy dress I can throw on after getting off the plane. For my last few flights, I’ve packed a Hill House Nap Dress in my carry-on so I can change out of my ’plane clothes’ as soon as possible when I arrive.” — Elizabeth Rhodes, Special Projects Editor

Price at time of publish: $125

Cadence Build Your 6



View On Keepyourcadence.com

“I love beauty products almost as much as I love organization. Cadence combines the two as I can fit a shocking amount in these little 0.56-ounce capsules — about a week’s worth of cleanser and even more for serums and toner. My favorite part is that you can customize the magnetic label ’tiles’ with whatever names or icons you want (and get different hues to color code your products and order additional tiles separately to swap). They take up very little space and are great for skin care, or even jewelry and medicine, too. The tops screw on securely and it’s so easy to get every last drop out — with or without spoons — before cleaning (especially compared to standard reusable bottles). If I just add makeup and these larger 3-ounce pouches for my hair care, my entire at-home routine is sorted on the go.” — Morgan Ashley Parker, Senior Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $84

Stripe & Stare Box 2-Piece Short-Sleeve Pajama Set

Saks Fifth Avenue

View On Saks Fifth Avenue

“My greatest travel fear? Getting stuck overnight somewhere without my checked bag, and then not having a clean set of pajamas and underwear to change into at the airport or my hotel room. I always throw a pair of lightweight, breathable pajamas into my Paraval tote bag — this comfortable pair from Stripe and Stare, which sustainably sources their material, has been doing the trick lately. Their underwear is also super soft — and 95 percent biodegradable.” — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

Price at time of publish: $130

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Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones



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One of our picks for the best noise-canceling headphones on the market, this pair impressed us with superior noise-canceling abilities that could block out sounds like a screaming baby, an ambulance siren, and car honking.

“[They are] equally adept at blocking out the chaos and noise of a busy airport, as well as flight noise, and light enough to wear for the entire trip.” — Mark Prigg, VP Commerce

Price at time of publish: $398

Summersalt Perfect Lightweight Cardigan


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Made of 95 percent cotton and 5 percent cashmere, this cozy sweater is designed to be lightweight, warm, and easy to pack.

“You’ll never find me boarding a plane without an extra sweater in my carry-on to ensure I’m not caught shivering when they inevitably crank the air-conditioning on a flight. This two-tone cardigan is one of my current favorites; it’s super soft, and the neutral colors go with just about anything.” — Sarah Bruning, Senior Editor.

Price at time of publish: $65

Brand Black Nomo 2.0 Sneaker


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“I have never loved a sneaker more than these ones in my life. These shoes are built to last thanks to their Vibram traction soles that are often found in shoes designed for high-intensity activities like hiking and running. I’ve put at least 500 miles on these shoes while traveling or walking through New York City, and the traction is completely intact without showing any signs of wear and tear. I love how easy it is to slip these on and they feel incredibly lightweight and supportive at the same time. And they’re like comfortable dad shoes, but cuter.” — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Price at time of publish: $68

Bioderma Makeup Remover Wipes


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“I like to have makeup wipes (like these Bioderma wipes) in my carry-on bag so I can take my makeup off during a long-haul flight and freshen up before I reach my destination. I always have a good moisturizer on hand, too, like this one from Drunk Elephant, to combat that dry plane air and keep my skin hydrated and happy.” — Elizabeth Rhodes, Special Projects Editor

These wipes are also unscented, biodegradable, and recommended for sensitive skin.

Price at time of publish: $12

Gritin Book Light


View On Amazon

“I absolutely hate turning on my overhead light on flights because I always feel like I’m disturbing my neighbors who may be trying to sleep. This reading light is a game changer when I want to read, but the cabin lights are off during those long, overnight flights. It clips directly onto my book without leaving a mark on the pages, has three different light settings so I can dim it without straining my eyes, and it’s completely chargeable so I don’t have to worry about it running out of battery. I also love how small it is, barely taking up any space at all in my carry-on or purse.” — Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer

Price at time of publish: $20

Ekrist Portable Charger Power Bank


View On Amazon

“I basically never leave the house without my portable charger power bank, especially when I’m traveling. When you use your phone for so many essential functions, from texts, calls, and social media to maps, photos, and your calendar, it’s bound to run out of battery at the most inconvenient time. This fast-charging power bank can charge your phone up to 8 times and can even charge multiple devices at once. It’s totally worth it for long travel days and everything in between.” — Sophie Mendel, Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $30

Rare Beauty Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit


View On Kohls.comView On Rarebeauty.comView On Sephora

“My dry skin tends to over-produce oil to compensate, so after a few hours on a plane or in a car, my face looks pretty shiny. An easy way to combat this (and arrive at my destination looking somewhat made up without busting out my foundation and concealer) is to mattify my skin with Rare Beauty’s Blot & Glow Touch Up Kit. It comes with a pre-powdered makeup sponge as well as oil-absorbing sheets, which I usually alternate between a few times during my flight and throughout the day. The products are neatly packed into a mirrored compact which easily fits into a purse or carry-on.” — Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $26

Jacq’s Nourishing Facial Moisturizer


View On Target

“It can be tough to travel with your daily moisturizer so I love that this bottle is only 2 ounces, meaning it can easily be tossed in a carry-on or personal item. The lotion itself is super lightweight and non-greasy, which is ideal for using after a long flight when my skin gets dry or oily. Plus, the brand Jacq’s uses vegan, paraben-free, and nontoxic ingredients so I’m a big fan of the brand’s values.” — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Price at time of publish: $24

Sabah El Paso Shearling Baba Shoes


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“‘Feels like a slipper, looks like a shoe’ is pretty much my dream description of footwear, especially on a flight. These Sabah El Paso Shearling Baba are perfect to slide into on the plane, and for wearing at the airport and around a hotel, too. The firm leather soles can be worn outside but they easily fit in a travel tote if I’m wearing chunkier boots when I leave home instead.” — Morgan Ashley Parker, Senior Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $235

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Nefeeko Collapsible Water Bottle


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“If you’re like me and hate over-paying to stay hydrated while traveling, but don’t want to waste luggage space on an empty bottle, this collapsible water bottle is the perfect solution. Not only can it clip to the outside of your backpack, purse, or carry-on bag, but it also collapses down to less than six inches tall to save you space. It’s also made of durable, leak-proof silicone that’s dishwasher safe and can hold both cold and hot liquids.” — Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer

Price at time of publish: $16

Meloway Brow Creation Gel


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“This perfectly travel-sized product is the ONLY makeup I need when I’m traveling and want to spruce up my look. I usually don’t bother wearing makeup on travel days, but this handy brow gel brush requires next to zero effort and gives me an instant statement brow. It comes in a few different shades to match your natural color and it just gives your eyebrows a thicker, more polished look whenever you need it.” — Sophie Mendel, Commerce Editor

Price at time of publish: $20

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Commerce writer Anna Popp writes various researched and tested roundups. She has been travel writing since 2018 and product testing since 2021. Anna collaborated with T+L editors to create a list of carry-on essentials our editors can’t travel without.

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