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The Ultimate Carry-on Packing List

couples coordinates packing tips

For long haul flights, having the right carry on goodies is absolutely essential. We have received a lot of questions about what we bring in our carry-on, so we decided to put together a carry-on packing guide to share what we pack in our carry on.
At this point we have this about down to a science. Invariably, the items below are the items we bring with us in our carry on.

Here is our ultimate carry-on packing guide:

Otter Box Resurgence Battery Pack Case

More times than not we are able to charge our phones onboard (most Delta flights have charging ports). However, we have encountered both short and long-haul flights where we were unable to charge our phones. Obviously this isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re looking to listen to music, browse the web, or even read Couple’s Coordinates, you’ll want to have your phone charged. This is why we LOVE the Otter Box Resurgence batter pack phone case. You can charge both your phone and the case simultaneously. When your phone battery starts to die later in the day you can push the button on the back of the case and your phone will immediately have 2X the power.

Kind bars

Kind Bars are awesome because they are:

  1. A healthy snack
  2. Readily available in airports
  3. Not going to spoil on a long haul flight

We keep Kind Bars stashed away in backpacks, laptop bags, etc. just to ensure that we have a healthy snack for the flight. Whether the flight is 1 hour or 20 hours, we tend to like to snack. Hide some in the bags you usually use for a carry-on and you’ll be thanking us when you’re in the middle of a flight to Asia and you suddently remember you’ve got a delicious Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut bar in your bag.


Headphones are probably the #1 most important thing for us to have, especially on long-haul flights. They’re magical creations, really. They enable you to tune out the sound of the airplane, the crying baby sitting across the aisle, and the person next to you who insists on pitching you his/her business idea.

Water (Typically a Nalgene)

We both carry around a Nalgene or Swell bottle just about everywhere we go. That absolutely includes airports. You’ll have to make sure it’s empty when you go through security, but you can fill it up past the checkpoint and have a liter or more of water for your flight. You might not think you need much water on a flight but you absolutely do. Those little 200 ml cups every few hours definitely won’t suffice. It is super, super, easy to get dehydrated at cruising altitude with less than adequate oxygen supply in the cabin.


Or maybe a Kindle/iPad/whatever form of tablet you prefer. We are big fans of travel and adventure books as well as books that inspire. One of our favorite travel bloggers, Nomadic Matt, has a pretty solid list of travel books on his travel resources page.

Some of our favorites include:  The Alchemist, Vagabonding, and Power of Now.

Change of Clothes

If you’ve ever had a bag lost or have been stranded on a stopover, you’ve probably never traveled without a change of clothes in your carry-on. Don’t wait until you have a bag lost or an unplanned overnight in a random city to learn this lesson. Always plan ahead. Plus, if you’re spontaneous like we are you might end up staying somewhere longer than anticipated…it’s always nice to have a change of clothes or 2.


Brushing our teeth and freshening up with deoderant is something we love to do before we descend from a long-haul flight. After 12+ hours on an airplane you probably need a shower – so at least freshen up a bit and make yourself feel clean.

Anything Valuable

We ALWAYS carry our laptops, cameras, jewelry, and medicine on flights in our carry-on. Let’s face it, not everyone in this world is as honest as you are. Aside from the chance that your bag could be lost, you also don’t want to take the risk of having something valuable damaged or stolen.


Some airlines will even provide socks for lengthy overnight flights. We experienced this with Qatar Airways where they gave us a package with a toothbrush/toothpaste, socks, and a sleep mask. Plan ahead and keep your feet warm!

No matter how many times I see Cinque Terre I am still always in awe! 🙌🏻 #CouplesCoordinates #CinqueTerre #Italy

A photo posted by ✈️ Couple’s Coordinates (@michael_j_gallagher) on

For our carry-on we both use an Osprey backpack (Alex’s is 45 liters and Michael switches between a 55 L (for longer trips) and a 24 L (for shorter trips – pictured above)). For trips under a week, this will suffice and allow us to avoid having to check a bag. If you’re flying an economy airline and you want to save $50-200 per bag, be sure to get a solid back pack that meets FAA carry-on regulations.

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