19 fashionable & practical essentials to take in your carry-on
Delayed and cancelled flights plus understaffed airports are abound this summer, seemingly leading to every traveller’s worst nightmare: a missing bag (cue the dramatic music).
Viral TikTok and Instagram videos of strewn, missing luggage completely unattended have led many to be done with the “checking of the bag conversation” — yes, that is a Meet the Parents reference and a direct quote from Ben Stiller’s character Greg.
Opting to pack light with a carry-on only is definitely the move these days — but even if that’s not doable, you’ll still want to have all your essentials should your checked bag end up in a different city, country or even continent.
We’ve rounded up the best fashion, lifestyle and other essentials to take on board with you right here.
The luggage itself
The Monos Carry-On Pro and Pro Plus are absolute game changers, allowing access to the luggage without having to open up the entire bag. Give your (likely already sore) shoulder a break and put your laptop in the brilliantly designed built-in front compartment, leaving your “personal item” (airline language for a purse or backpack) on the lighter side.
Best of all, your computer will be protected under the same aerospace-grade polycarbonate as the rest of the case. Perfectly designed to fit in the overhead bin of almost any flight, anywhere in the world.
The personal item
Don’t forget you’re also entitled to a personal item, in addition to your actual carry-on. The BEIS Mini Weekender is still a goodie and fits right on top of your carry-on thanks to the Trolly Pass-Through back pocket that allows it to slide over a suitcase handle.
We suggest keeping your laptop in here if you’re going to be using it during the flight, AirPods, chargers and some essential toiletries in this one, which slides right under your seat. Passport and wallet too, in case that wasn’t obvious.
Battery pack & power converters
Airport plugs can sometimes be scarce (or sketchy), depending on what one you’re at — and we’ve all been on a plane with a non-functioning USB. A portable battery pack for your electronic devices is an absolute must (trust us!) even on a short jaunt. We’re absolutely obsessed with Skross’ Reload 10 PD, which includes two USBs and a USB C port, should you need it for a laptop.
If you’re going overseas, you also need a power converter, which Swiss-based Skross also makes. While we’re at it, don’t forget your iPhone cord.
The point of carry-on only is to avoid losing your bag — but sometimes space issues force the issue anyway. In the unfortunate event that airline staff announce that the rest of the carry-on bags “must” be checked, an Apple AirTag will keep tabs on yours with a trusty app.
We’ve already seen several stories of people effectively tracking their checked bags with AirTags, so clearly they work — and for $39, it’s worth the peace of mind (but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that).
No matter where you’re going in the world, you need a comfortable pair of shoes. We’re loving the light and airy New Balance Fresh Foam Roav v2 women’s sneaker made out of a soft knit material for summer (or any season) adventures.
Your feet will feel supported thanks to the plush base, ideal for walking around and hiking. Bonus: they come in 9 colours, so there are plenty of options depending on your wardrobe.
An easy summer dress is essential for a throw-on-and-go look. Even better when said dress can go with sneakers for a daytime look, flip-flops for the pool/beach and even out for dinner. Packing light means multi-functional!
The short-and-sweet Catarina from Reformation is on our summer wish list, particularly with its flattering front bodice ruching. Aritiza’s Only Slip Midi Dress by Wilfred is another staple that can do it all. The versatile essential comes in a maxi or mini length and in an array of colours from neutrals to bold jewel tones.
It’s summer, so that means you’re probably going somewhere with a beach or pool. Whether you’re just taking a carry-on OR your checked bag goes missing, one thing’s for sure: you’ll need a swimsuit. Toronto’s own 437 makes a slew of figure-flattering fits for all body types, but they’re best known for their bikinis.
For a one-piece, Babaton’s newly dropped Scoopneck style from Aritzia is a great carry-on essential that can double as a bodysuit for daytime exploring or dinner.
A linen blouse
Another item that goes with literally everything. Wear it to the pool or beach, over a bodysuit or buttoned up with jeans.
The Everlane Linen Relaxed shirt fits the bill and comes in all the classic neutrals like white, baby blue and black, as well as the on-trend green “Leek” shade.
Does this one even need an explanation? Airplanes can get sweaty, so, you’ll want a fresh shirt. Trust us. There are plenty of great T-shirts out there, but we’re still partial to the Kit & Ace ones.
The Vancouver-born brand offers their classic crew-necks in a pack of three, with various colour options for one that best suits whatever else you’re bringing.
Once again, denim is a staple. Depending on how hot your destination is, jeans or jean shorts (or even both) are non-negotiable. Social media can’t stop raving about Everlane’s relaxed fit or ’90s Cheeky Jean, which we can personally speak to.
For various denim short lengths, Aritzia’s Denim Forum has plenty of options from daisy dukes to longer bike short-inspired cuts.
You’ll want to be cozy after a travel day, so some jammies are definitely on the list. Nothing is more breathable than linen, putting Sleeper’s Linen Lounge Suit at the top of our list. This chic two-piece set features a button-down and matching shorts, both adorned with sweet ruffles. Dare we say you could also rock this one out: throw on some sneakers for a day of exploring, or swap out with some heels for dinner.
This social media-friendly brand is also known for its iconic Party Pajama Set with ostrich feather details. Depending on where you’re going, this could also be a chic dinnertime House Of Gucci-inspired look.
Toothpaste & toothbrush
No one wants to be stuck without their toothbrush after a long flight — or any flight, for that matter. Elevate these bathroom basics with Twice’s Oral Wellness Toothpaste and a matching yellow toothbrush.
Don’t forget the dental floss, too. No matter where you’re staying, these well-designed items are meant to sit out on the counter for some love on the ‘gram.
You don’t want to be without basic skincare essentials in your carry-on because those can be expensive to replace. Also, airplanes are extremely drying so your face will absolutely need some TLC after being in the sky.
Nothing is more compact than RoC’s Multi Correxion Hydrate + Plump Night Serum Capsules (available at Shoppers) as you can take just the exact amount you need based on the length of your trip. The same goes for the individually packed Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peels by Dr. Dennis Gross, whose All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 is also essential.
Wrinkles are no fun, and this one keeps them at bay with a lightweight, oil-free SPF that blends into all skin tones without a white cast. Round out the line-up with Beauty Counter’s travel-ready items, including their mini Cleansing Oil and mini Supreme Cream.
You don’t need to bring your whole vanity on vacation (this is a carry-on guide, after all) but the basics are key: a foundation or tinted moisturizer, liner, blush, highlighter, lipstick, mascara and, if you’re into it, a mini eyeshadow palette will suffice.
Vancouver-born Ilia‘s easy-to-use formulas mean you can basically use your hands, saving room on packing brushes. We love the Super Serum Skintint SPF 40 and True Skin Serum Foundations. The cult Limitless Lash Mascara is beloved for a reason, and their multi-stick doubles as both a lippie and blush (once again saving space). The compact Necessary Eyeshadow Palette and Liquid Light Serum Highlighter also pack well.
A hair tool
This one really depends on you, your style and your hair. Love your natural locks? Awesome, save the space (and, if you’re going on a beach vacation, salty hair is the vibe). For those of us not in that category, we suggest just one hair tool: the Dyson Corrale straightener, which can also curl.
Cool feature alert: you can put it into ‘flight ready mode’ with a tab that disarms the battery, and it comes in a heat-resistant travel pouch for on-the-go styling. While we’re on the topic of hair, we usually go with the in-hotel mini shampoo and conditioner bottles to save space on product backing — but if you love your own (or your doesn’t do well with different products), definitely pack a travel-sized amount.
Underwear & socks
Another obvious one. Go Canadian with undergarments from Knix, known for their ultra comfy styles that are flattering on all body types in all different shapes. Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS — now at Holt Renfrew — is also still having a moment thanks to their varied styles in an array of fabrics.
Even if you’re going somewhere hot, socks with your sneakers are a must. Otherwise, those shoes are going to get stinky — fast. Also, there are potential blisters to think about. Sure, socks are socks but trust us when we say Aritzia’s just hit different — especially the TNA ones.
Face masks are still required in most airports and planes. Many prefer an N95 in the air, but if you want to go to the regular route, Aritzia’s got plenty of options. A sanitizer is also good to keep handy: we’ve been using the travel-sized version of Aesop’s alcohol-based mist with rosemary leaf and mandarin rind.
Finally, keep your hands hydrated with their Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm.
Okay, so not really a necessity but they’re just really nice to have (trust us). The Pocket Farmacy Mindful Edition by Saje Wellness is so compact that you won’t even notice it.
The Peppermint Halo is great to have on standby if you feel a headache coming on; otherwise, the Stress Release is nice to apply before a mid-air nap. Airplane seats aren’t all that comfy back in economy, so the Pain Release blend may come in handy too.