What I’m bringing with me: Carry-On edition

Ok, so I know most people pack their checked bag first and then their carry-on like the night before, I’m doing things a bit backwards on this trip for a couple reasons: 1. I am in the midst of doing laundry so I can’t finish my checked baggage yet and 2. My checked bag is my backpacking pack which means my down sleeping bag goes at the bottom, compressed so I need to wait as long as possible before doing that so it spends as little time as possible like that. Wow, that was a confusing sentence… I’m sorry.

Anyway, after many lists and spreadsheets and more lists, this is what it looks like my final carry-on is going to be:


  1. The bag I’m bringing is a Dakine Ski/Snowboard bag I’ve had for about 10 years now. There are pros and cons to this decision but I feel like the pros outweigh the cons (for me at least). On the pro side, this bag is heavy duty (it’s made to carry skis and snowboards and be on your back for hours on the mountain), I’ve had it for a long time and it has taken a beating by my standards. This is also one of the cons though, since it’s made for carrying skis and snowboards, it has a lot of extra parts that are unnecessary for my trip, this makes it bulky and heavy. It does have a decent hip strap, which helps make up for the weight and also has a built-in hydration bag holder which makes it a good choice for day hiking while I’m away. This all being said, I could have gotten all my pros in a new and lighter bag. But I didn’t want to spend that much money, I’m on a budget so I’m going to use what I have whenever I can for this trip.
  2. My chacos are being carried with me so that I have more space in my checked baggage (it has to hold over the heel hiking boots…). This also allows me to change my shoes if I land in London and the weather is hot. I mean as long as my feet don’t smell too bad…
  3. A bag of extra clothes, including an extra bra. Last time I travelled to the UK I broke one of my bras because they just aren’t meant to be worn for that long. This time I have a lot more layovers (yay budget airlines…) so my trip is going to take a bit longer. This means having a fresh pair of socks, underwear, a bra, and a shirt will make me not only smell better but feel less like I’ve been awake forever and a day (it’s really only 17 and half hours or something… not counting getting through security and customs).
  4. My laptop. I wouldn’t bring this is this trip was just for fun. But it’s a working vacation, I am going to a training to increase my chances of being employed when I return home. That means I have to actually be applying to jobs while I am out of the country and getting in touch with contacts back here and overseas. This means my computer is, unfortunately, a bit of a must and I’m not going to entrust it to the checked luggage gods, not that I’ve had anything bad happen to my checked luggage… knock on wood…
  5. A quick drying travel towel. Best thing I’ve ever decided to bring on a trip with me ever. Who wants to dry themselves with paper towels after their sink bath? Not me, this things absorbs tons of water and takes up little space, yes please.
  6. A water bottle and camping mug. Gotta stay hydrated, caffeinated, and help the environment (especially since I’m flying on a plane).
  7. My bag of liquids, sprays, and pastes. You know, all the tiny personal hygiene items I’ll need either while I’m en route or soon after I land: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, glasses lens cleaner, chapstick, and hand lotion. The basics
  8. My camera and extra film. I just purchased an Olympus OM-1n to replace my Pentax ZX-50, which had served me for the past 10+ years. I’ll do my best to get these things hand checked as there is a risk that x-rays will fog the film. I’ve been shooting film for years and had a difficult time deciding what to do camera-wise for this trip. My Pentax wasn’t doing so great and I don’t particularly like my digital camera. Finally I decided to go with a combination of my phone’s camera and this new film camera, which I’ve already named Athena.
  9. Charging cords for various electronics, including my US phone, UK phone, and fitbit. Also, my US to UK adapter so I don’t have to dig around for it when I get there.
  10. Toiletries that are allowed on planes and my pill organizer (because I’m really an old lady). I find I forget to take medications when I travel so having them all in one place already sorted is super helpful. Inside the bag I have a comb, glasses cleaning cloth, q-tips, a toothbrush, hairties and bobby pins, headbands, cleansing wipes (for when there isn’t a sink and I feel gross), and a watch in case my fitbit dies.
  11.  Various pens and pencils, probably the one part I’ve gone over-board on so far, but I will use them, I mean I’m going to be going to a training, organization is important.
  12. You may not be able to tell but this is my pillow for my entire trip. It is a combination of foam and a blow-up bladder and actually quite comfortable from the minimal trial it’s endured from me. I’ll be reviewing it after this trip, as it’s something I bought specifically for this.
  13. Ear-plugs and an eye-mask, for when I’m having a hard time sleeping on the plane.
  14. Headphones (two pairs because my glasses make it difficult to enjoy over-ear ones for too long and my ears are small so ear-buds start to hurt after a while).

In addition to my backpack, I’ll be carrying a second, smaller bag with a few items I’m going to want to reach more frequently in it. Airlines call this your ‘personal item’ and it has to be able to fit under your seat, mine is a canvas bag featuring:

IMG_0014 (1)

  1. A set of playing cards for when I want to play some solitaire and not stare at a screen.
  2. My current book: The Plague by Albert Camus (I greatly recommend it, I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it).
  3. Journals, yes I have two. One is for actual journaling and one is to help me stay positive by writing three things I’m grateful for everyday. I’m working on getting better on the second one.
  4. Paperwork about the site I’m am going to work on, my bank accounts, my job search, etc. Basically anything kind of important that I might need when I go through customs or want to work on while I’m traveling. My passport is also here.
  5. A small pouch with all my UK things: my debit card for my bank account there, my phone, the spare change I came home with last time. Once I’m there I’ll switch these with my US things in my wallet.
  6. My wallet. Seriously this is the best wallet I’ve ever encountered. I’ve had it for over 10 years and it isn’t even close to falling apart yet. It may be a little big but it also has a small insert where the id goes that can come out and become a teeny tiny wallet. It’s amazing and I wish they still made them.
  7. Snacks. Featured here is just some trail mix but I’ll probably make a couple PB and J sandwiches and some fruit of some kind closer to when I’m leaving.
  8. My phone. Yeah, I’m a millennial. Also, who wouldn’t carry their phone with them for international travel?

So that’s everything I’m packing into my carry-on, it seems like a lot more now, but I think it’s mostly just that I took the time to talk about everything. This is actually probably the least and most practical carry-on packing I’ve ever done, so I’m kind of proud of it.


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