Yahoo Lifestyle Canada is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
In my pre-pandemic life, I was on a plane at least six times a year. As a Canadian living abroad, I spent my days and dollars finding cheap flights, avoiding checked baggage and (literally) living out of my suitcase. Therefore, even if only self-proclaimed, I consider myself something of a carry-on expert.
While I typically travel with two carry-on bags (a mini suitcase and a backpack), I’m going to focus on what to bring in your backpack carry-on today. First and foremost: The backpack itself . While a duffle bag and oversized tote are certainly cute, I find anything that requires hands or limits your mobility to be entirely unpractical when you’re speeding through an airport.
My backpack of choice is a decade-old Lululemon bag that has (sadly) been discontinued. However, I stand by the quality and durability of the brand, so I have my eye on Lululemon’s Everyday Backpack 2.0 23L for an in-stock alternative.
It’s Travel Week at Yahoo Canada! From travel and luggage essentials to last-minute long-weekend deals, check out all our travel coverage here .
Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0 23L
$98 at Lululemon
What I love about my (and this) Lululemon backpack:
- Water repellant fabric: Trust me, any travel bag that is not water-repellant or waterproof is a waste of your money
- Padded laptop pocket (for obvious reasons)
- Exterior water bottle pocket
- Interior pockets for your wallet, keys, and more
- Trolley-compatible sleeve — destined for an airport!
Now, equally as important: What to pack in your carry-on bag. From a reusable water bottle to noise-cancelling headphones, here are 24 travel essentials I never leave home without.
Don’t leave home without them: 24 carry-on bag travel essentials
1. Reusable water bottle
If you take only one tip from this article, let this be it: Always pack a reusable water bottle in your carry-on bag. I repeat: Always pack a reusable water bottle in your carry-on bag. Between global warming and inflation, buying a disposable water bottle at the airport is not helping anyone, anywhere. Pack an (empty) water bottle, fill it up inside, and just like magic, you’ve saved $8 at the airport convenience store.
Save: FineDine Water Bottle
This best-selling ombre water bottle is triple-insulated to keep drinks cool for up to 24 hours and insulate hot beverages for up to 12 hours. The bottle is available in 25, 32 and 64-ounce versions and 18 colours.
$20 at Amazon
Splurge: LARQ Self-Cleaning Water Bottle
This luxe self-cleaning water bottle uses PureVis technology to eliminate up to 99 per cent of bio-contaminants such as E. coli from your water and bottle.
$125 at LARQ
2. Over-ear noise-cancelling headphones
Next to a reusable water bottle, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a travel essential, in my opinion. Why? Wireless headphones (i.e. Apple AirPods) can’t connect to in-flight entertainment, so unless you’re keen to stream a show on your phone via the airline’s app, you have to either forgo entertainment or purchase a pair of single-use headphones for the flight. Secondly, the noise-cancelling function helps to drown-out noisy neighbours and comes in handy if you’re looking to snooze.
Save: PowerLocus Wired/Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
These over-ear headphones come with a staggering 32,000 reviews from Amazon shoppers and an average rating of 4.3 stars. According to one user, the sound is “great” and the “bass is excellent.” The headphones can wirelessly connect to your phone when out walking or at the beach, but also include a cable that can connect to in-flight entertainment.
$30 at Amazon
Splurge: Bose QuietComfort 45 Noise Cancelling Headphones
These best-selling over-ear noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones allow you to listen to music for up to 23 hours on a single charge and adjust the amount of external sound you hear via their noise-cancelling feature. The set includes a USB-C cable that can charge the headphones in as little as 2.5 hours and an airplane-compatible cord.
$450 at Best Buy Canada
3. Change of clothing
If this summer’s airline blunders have taught us anything, it’s to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case. On my personal packing list: socks, underwear, and a cute day-to-night maxi dress.
Save: H Halston Shirred Waist Maxi Dress
A steal at 54 per cent off, this H Halston sleeveless maxi dress features a flowy silhouette cinched in at the waist with a shirred stretch panel.
at Saks Off Fifth
Splurge: The Somerset Maxi Dress
Dubbed Anthropologie’s “best-reviewed dress, ever,” this maxi dress is available in dozens of colours, materials, and prints. It’s “amazing,” raves one reviewer. “So comfy and so flattering.”
$168 at Anthropologie
4. Eye mask
While my body seems physically incapable of sleeping on a plane, I still reach for an eye mask on every overnight flight, hoping for a miracle. A teacher once told me that your brain waves during deep meditation are similar to the early stages of sleep. So if anything, I venture for a lights-out meditative session and pray that it’s enough to keep me going until I eventually find a bed.
Save: Cotton Sleep Mask
This blindfold-style sleeping mask is made from skin-friendly organic cotton and is designed to block out 100 per cent of outdoor light, including around the nose area. The mask has earned more than 6,800 reviews from Amazon shoppers and an average rating of 4.3 stars.
Splurge: Slip Lovely Lashes Pure Silk Contour Sleep Mask (Shop in Canada)
Slip Lovely Lashes Pure Silk Contour Sleep Mask (Shop in the U.S)
This contour sleep mask is made from high-grade mulberry silk that’s designed with eyelash extensions in mind.
$77 CAD at Nordstrom Canada
$55 USD at Nordstrom U.S.
20 carry-on bag travel essentials, according to an avid traveller:
- Mini toothbrush & toothpaste ( $12 on Amazon )
- Granola bars & snacks (basic enough that they could double as breakfast)
- DIY first aid kit with additional ibuprofen , anti-nausea medication , melatonin , Pepto-Bismol , allergy pills , Band-Aids , antibacterial hand wipes , plus antidotes for whatever else you’re prone to
- Emergen-C Immune+ drink mix packs (I swear by these! Plus, they taste good)
- A good book ( I couldn’t put this one down )
- A blanket scarf (never trust the forecast — airplanes are freezing)
- Socks (I repeat, airplanes are freezing)
- Ear plugs
- Extra pads & tampons
- Neck pillow ( this one has a lot of reviews )
- Pen, pencil, and paper
- Phone charger
- Power bank (for when you can’t use your phone charger)
- Lip balm ( this one is worth the hype )
- Hand sanitizer
- Gum (for your ears and for flavour)
- Any and all travel documents you may require
- Enough cash (in the correct currency) that you can pay for a taxi to your hotel
- Your favourite chocolate bar — for when the going gets rough
Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @ YahooStyleCA ! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram .