Packing The Perfect “Personal Item”

The “personal item” is a handbag, briefcase, or small bag that goes under the seat in front of you. If you don’t pack it right, you may be that person digging through their suitcase looking for their 3-1-1 bag of toiletries, or the guy who drops stuff on people’s heads while aimlessly searching through the overhead bin.

With new regulations strictly enforcing the 2-bag rule, you can no longer squeak by with your handbag, weekender bag, airport purchases, AND your roller suitcase. It needs to all fit into a total of 2 bags! For those over-packers, I feel your pain. So by following and modifying this list to your traveling needs, you’ll reduce that feeling of anxiety going through security, getting settled in your seat, and prevent unneeded rummaging through the overhead bins.


Get your bag. A backpack, weekender bag/duffle, or a gym bag is usually the best options. They hold A TON but remain small enough that you can still have some feet space or a foot rest if you’re short enough.


Pack for convenience. Think of everything you’d possible need before the flight, during the flight, and immediately after. Gross hair? Dry shampoo! Fuzzy teeth? Toothbrush!


Start packing! These are the things I pack in my duffel for every kind of trip. 2 hours or 22 hours, I know I’m going to need these items at some point. Be sure to modify to your own travel needs.

  • Earplugs
  • Eye mask
  • Headphones
  • Baby wipes
  • iPad/laptop – filled with books, movies, and music
  • Phone/iPad Charger
  • Snacks
  • Empty water bottle to refill after security
  • Toiletries

*Face wash, deodorant, tweezers, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, lotion, and Q-tips.

  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Socks
  • Sweater
  • Benadryl
  • Advil
  • Eye drops

I always leave just enough room for my purse and a few airport-bought snacks. This list comes in handy as you’re going through security because you’ll already have your bag of toiletries and laptop ready to whip out into the security bins. You’ll be warm and cozy with your sweater and socks. AND best of all, you’re not leaning your crotch into someone’s face while rummaging through the overhead bin. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Happy traveling!