Packing A Carry-On For Holiday Travel

If you've been following In Search Of for awhile, you know that I mainly travel carry-on only and a durable yet soft bag is an essential part of that equation. By now I've become a pro at packing my carry-on, whether it is my only bag for the trip or an accompaniment to a checked suitcase (mainly crammed with things for Baby ISO and gifts for family in the US). Since we'll be traveling to the US to visit family in less than two week's time--and you might be traveling to visit family too--I wanted to share some tips and tricks I've learned about selecting and packing a carry-on for the holidays.

Selecting a carry-on to use

Other than the obvious requirement of selecting a carry-on bag that follows airline size regulations, a carry-on should feel comfortable to tote around (whether by a shoulder strap or on wheels), fit under the seat in front of you, and be light-weight yet able to hold everything you need for a two-week (or longer!) trip.

I prefer soft duffles with or without wheels since they are easier to store when not in use, but can be stuffed full of clothes, gifts, and toiletries during travel. So, for this packing guide and my upcoming visit to the US, I'm going to be testing out the Duffler Series 1 bag*, which ticks all of the boxes and then some.

Carry-on packing list for holiday travel

Traveling for the holidays tends to add a bit of panic when it comes to packing since there are often parties to dress for and gifts to bring along. If your flight allows for a free checked bag, take advantage of it without feeling guilty--I'm definitely going to be checking a bag back to the US. But, don't rely only on a checked bag since lost or damaged baggage is, unfortunately, common. I already know what is going in my checked bag vs. in my Duffler* carry-on.

But what should you pack in your carry-on vs. in your checked luggage?


  • Essential medicine
  • 1 change of clothes
  • Electronics and chargers
  • Jewelry
  • Snacks and entertainment


  • Liquids
  • All other clothes
  • Food gifts
  • Gifts other than jewelry and electronics
Duffler carry-on bag.png

I always choose to pack my electronics (camera, tablet, computer, and chargers) in my carry-on bag because I'm afraid that they'll get lost or damaged if stowed in my check luggage. Since my camera and computer are both essential work tools for me, I can't go without (and hopefully the US won't pass a law requiring it!). You'll also notice that I also pack jewelry (if I bring any) in my carry-on, and though I don't wear expensive jewelry, I'm also concerned about loss or damage there. After those essentials get packed, I throw in a change of clothes for Baby ISO and me, snacks, and toys.

If I'm using a checked suitcase, everything else gets thrown in there!

Would you add anything else to your checked or your carry-on luggage. My carry-on will obviously be filled with toys, snacks, electronics, and my favorite SkipHop diaper changing pad. What are your essentials for your carry-on?


*My Duffler bag is c/o Duffler, but as always, all opinions are my own... and the bag really, really is nice.