My Perfect Carry-On List

How To Travel Light & In-Style

By Guest Blogger Katherine McIntosh

Packing the perfect carry-on is no easy task, especially if you are trying to stay fashion-forward, and my biggest struggle throughout my years of travelling has been trying to find functional and stylish bags and accessories. More and more women are becoming the voices of travel, whether for business or pleasure, and companies are starting to catch up with some of the holes in the industry being filled by companies with women running the show.

Before I tell you my secrets, it’s important to understand the difference between a carry-on bag and a personal item. Knowing the difference between your carry-on and you personal item is key because airlines have strict size restrictions.

Carry-On: The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.

Personal Item: The maximum dimensions for your personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

Carry On: Heys’ Portal 21″ Smart Luggage 

I’ve had a lot of carry-on suitcases and this is by far my favourite. Not only does it have 360 degree spinning wheels, but the front access system allows you easily access a cushioned pocket that fits up to 15.6” laptop.  Even though I travel with a small MacBook Air, it can take up valuable space as my personal item. No one wants to dig through their suitcase to remove their laptop, so this front access compartment makes its a breeze to access a computer or tablet while rolling through the airport.

Personal Item: Lo and Son’s O.M.G bag

Helen Lo is my hero. She had a need: a stylish FUNCTIONAL bag, and  she couldn’t find one that checked all the boxes, so she designed one herself. I came across this bag in my Instagram feed and ordered the OMG (the smaller of the 2 weekenders) and it has everything you could need in a personal travel bag. There is a laptop/iPad pocket, a shoe compartment, and the back pocket unzips at the bottom so you can slip it over the handle of your carry on. It also comes in some amazing colours. Flight attendants stop me every trip and ask me about this bag.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to make packing your bag and flying as easy as possible!

Packing Cubes: Hey’s Ecotex Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are fairly easy to find. WalmartEddie Bauer, and Hey’s all carry great ones. My personal favourites are from Target. I use both French Toast and designlovefest. I’ve used them for many trips and the zippers have yet to fail me.

Packing cubes are a must for me when I am traveling with just a carry on, not only to compartmentalize everything, but also to ensure my lace unmentionables aren’t going to be flying out everywhere upon being chosen for a random inspection at the security gate. Even when packing checked luggage I usually throw a backup outfit in a cube and put it in my bag  just in case my luggage is delayed. No one wants to be sitting by the pool in sunny Mexico in jeans.

Hot Tip: SweetLegs roll up small and compact and are a great option for your carry on! 

Travel Wallet: Indigo Travel Wallet

Technology is great – until it fails you. Picture this scenario: your phone battery unexpectedly dies and you can’t pull up your flight reservation number or your boarding pass. Solution? I always carry a back up of my travel itinerary and boarding pass in my travel wallet. It’s also a place to keep my passports safe and all my receipts for purchases in one place. Don’t forget a pen!

Pro Case Make Up Bag

This is an awesome TSA approved clear make up bag. Save yourself time and pack all of your liquids in this clear and stylish zipper bag.
Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:
  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger

Packable Tote: Longchamp Le Pilage Tote

This bag is the best!  As great at the OMG bag is when you get to your destination, it’s not the greatest tote to carry around. My Le Pilage tote is lightweight and folds up very small. I use it as beach tote, a camera bag, and a purse. I have a few different sizes, but the long handled style gets the most use. This is also my favourite thing to buy while traveling (which is why I have so many) – you can always get them cheaper in Europe or at the airport duty free. I squealed when I found them in the airport in Cancun for $100!

Cable Organizer: MYTAGALONG Cable Case

There are many different options when it comes to keeping all your cables neat and tidy, and more importantly, accessible. My go to is the MYTAGALONG Cable Case: two spots for ear buds and space for up to three charging cords and USB chargers. As a bonus, MYTAGALON has great stylish options other than standard black.

Slippers and Socks: Indigo Reading Socks

Let’s face it, airplanes are gross and not the place to walk around barefoot. I always travel with oversized socks or slippers. Especially when traveling with just carry on because chances are I am wearing my larger shoes or boots to avoid wasted space in my suite case. My OMG bag has the perfect compartment to keep them in too!

Travel Sweater: Community Ionic Cape 

Planes are also always too cold or too hot, so layers are important. Once you find that perfect travel sweater you’ll feel like you’ve found your soulmate. When you do find it, make sure to buy two or three if you travel a lot, you will thank me later. The love my of life is the Community Ionic Cape, and I own four! It makes an excellent blanket too. The colours change up a lot, but Aritzia always has at least one version out.


What do you think of these essential travel items?  Is there something you cant live without? Let me know in the comments below!

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