Personal Item Packing List for a Flight (+ a Free Printable Copy)

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Looking for a personal item packing list? Read on!

The area under the seat on an airplane is pretty tiny. It doesn’t offer a lot of room for a large bag filled with stuff. But you want to make sure you have the things you need during the flight so you have easy access to them.

Whether you also bring a carry-on bag or decide to check it, you’ll want to give thought to what you pack in your personal item. Here’s what you want to be sure to have on your personal item packing list.

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What’s a Personal Item Bag for Flying?

A personal item bag is a bag that fits under the seat in front of you on a flight. It can be anything from a backpack to a laptop bag and a diaper bag to a tote bag. Some people call it a carry-on bag, particularly if they are checking a bag.

The space is designed for you to pack a bag that includes anything you will want to access during the flight. It’s also used for anything essential for your trip.

A carry-on bag is a bag that you stow in the overhead bin. They can be a bit larger than your personal item bag, so you have more room to pack items in them.

You’ll find a wide variety of personal item bags. They come in different sizes, shapes, styles, and materials. They range from backpacks to duffels and totes to messenger bags and more.

Want to skip below to the list? Click here to go directly to the packing list.

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How Much Space Do You Get for Your Personal Item?

Whatever the bag is doesn’t matter as much as that it fits under the seat. What makes this challenging is that different airlines (and even different planes) have different space sizes.

You can check with your airline to see what the dimensions are that you have to work with. They are generally between 7 and 9 inches deep, 10 to 18 inches wide, and 14 to 18 inches high.

If you haven’t traveled with the airline before, it’s a good idea to consider a soft bag that can be squeezed into the space if necessary. Just make sure you don’t go too big, as the airline may require that you check your carry-on bag.

How to Pack a Personal Item Bag for Flying

When you pack your personal item bag, you’ll want to consider a few things. First, what are the items you’ll want easy access to while you’re on a plane?

The last thing you want to do during a flight is to go rooting through your carry-on bag in the overhead bin, looking for that pen you know is there! So, make sure anything you might want access to is in your personal item bag for easy reach. (If you run out of room, the outside zipper of your carry-on bag is an option).

Second, if you’re checking your bag and not carrying one on, you’ll want to make sure everything you need for at least a couple of days is in your personal item bag. This includes a change of clothing, medications, valuables, electronics, etc.

And last, keep in mind that even though you may plan to carry your bag, you may not have the space to stow it. When the baggage bins get full, the airline will require that you check your bag. So, keep this in mind when you pack, and make sure you have what you need in your personal item bag.

Unfortunately, bags sometimes go missing, and it could take you a couple of days to get your bag back. I once had a business trip where I needed a suit. My bag never arrived, and I didn’t pack much in my personal item bag. I was scrambling to shop for the things I needed!

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What to Look for with Personal Item Bags

Of course, the most important quality of personal item bags is that they fit under the seat in front of you on the plane. It’s helpful if you can get them in and out easily to access your things during the flight.

Bags with outside pockets for easy access are convenient, and bags with compartments to keep things separated and organized can be helpful.

Ultimately, the best personal item bags are what you prefer! There are a lot of different options ranging from small backpacks to luxury designer bags.

Consider the type of trip you’re going on and what you’ll be doing to see what type may work best. For example, if you are hiking on your trip, taking a small backpack may be a great option for you.

The bag itself may be as important as the items you have in it. It’s a good idea to consider bags with zippers to make sure items don’t fall out when you’re traveling.

Convertible bags are also a great option. These bags can be worn in different ways, like a bag that has straps that can be used as a backpack. Or a bag that can be worn over the shoulder or across the chest, like a messenger bag.

Also, keep in mind that your bag may get tossed around a bit as you travel. You’ll also be stuffing it under the seat in front of you on a plane, so make sure it’s made of a durable material that will hold up.

Consider the style of the bag. If you’re going hiking, a backpack may be a practical choice. If you’re going on a city vacation, you may want a tote or cross-body messenger bag that you can easily keep your hands on in a crowd or on public transportation.

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What to Pack in Your Personal Item Bag for Flying

What you pack in your personal item bag will depend if you’re carrying on a bag or checking your bag. If you’re checking a bag, you want to make sure you have things you’ll need for the first couple of days, just in case your bag gets lost.

However, keep in mind that you may be required to check your bag. The overhead bin space isn’t guaranteed, and if you’re one of the last to board, you may miss out on that space and need to check your bag.

As a result, it’s a good idea to plan for it to make sure everything you’ll need for your first day or two is in your personal bag. This includes things like a spare change of clothes. You’ll also want to make sure you have valuables, medications, and electronics. You should also bring your toiletries.

Here’s a list of suggested items to consider putting in your personal item bag. You’ll want to customize this for your own use, but it’s a good starting point that will give you some ideas!

Personal Item Bag Packing List

Here is the list of what you should consider bringing in your personal item bag on the plane. This list includes items you may need during your flight and the most important items that you’ll want to keep on you during your trip in case your other bag doesn’t make it.

  • Passport (for international trips)
  • Driver’s license/ID
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Copies of reservations and itinerary
  • Cash
  • Eyeglasses (or contact lens solution)
  • and sunglasses
  • All electronics: laptop, camera, tablet, etc.
  • cell phone
  • Chargers and plug adapters
  • Earbuds or headphones
  • Medications
  • One change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Books
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
  • Chapstick
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Brush
  • Face cleanser and moisturizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Small notebook and pen

Feel free to add to this list with personal items you want to bring. Maybe you like a travel pillow and an eye mask for the flight. Or maybe you like a scarf. Customize this to meet your specific needs, removing anything you don’t need.

Want a printable copy? No sweat! Get a free printable copy that you can use for your trips by signing up below. You will also get my monthly newsletter with updates, tips, and recent posts.

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Best Personal Item Bags for Flying

Here are a few great choices for personal item bags in a variety of styles. For the full list, check out this post on the best personal item bags for flying!

  • Falanko Laptop Bag—If you’re flying with a laptop, this waterproof and stylish laptop bag is perfect. It also has an anti-theft zipper making it even better for traveling with your electronics.
  • Osprey Daylight Plus—This is the perfect backpack for flying. It has everything you need, including a sleeve for a laptop, a water bottle holder, and compression straps.
  • Land’s End Tote Bag—This tote bag is a great choice if you need a little extra room in your personal bag. It can fit a weekend’s worth of clothes and has a small outside pocket for your phone and passport.
  • Matein Laptop Backpack—You can fit your laptop easily in here and then use the luggage strap to slide it over the handles of your suitcase.
  • BAGSMART Camera Backpack—Make sure to get this bag if you’re always bringing your camera along. It has cushioned compartments for all your camera supplies.
  • Patagonia Black Hole ToteThis great travel backpack is perfect for flying, hiking, and really any other activity!
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Which Personal Item Bag Will You Choose?

There’s no shortage of choices for personal item bags. It’s not easy to decide, and each trip you go on is different and may have different needs.

And having a personal item packing list for your flight is priceless! Never miss anything again with this comprehensive list that you can customize to fit your specific needs.

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