Flight Attendants Reveal What's Really In Their Carry-On Bags

Some of these items are ingenious!
Westend61 via Getty Images

Flight attendants have crazy schedules that can require back-to-back, multi-day trips with limited room for luggage. As a result, they’re known for having some of the most expertly packed carry-on bags in the sky.

These airline employees somehow manage to fit their entire lives ― including pre-prepped meals! ― into one piece of carry-on luggage and a personal bag, like many of us try to do. But it turns out they use some pretty ingenious gadgets to actually pull it off.

We asked flight attendant bloggers and their friends to name what’s in their carry-on bags. Their responses are packed with fascinating hacks.

A portable espresso maker

“I keep a Minipresso in my bag because I HATE airplane coffee.” ― Jay Robert of Fly Guy

Minipresso, <a href="https://www.wacaco.com/collections/shop" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$59 at Wacaco.com</a>
Minipresso, $59 at Wacaco.com

A miniature cooler and hot plate

“Hotel/airport food is expensive, right?! I usually take a crew cooler with my meals that I cooked at home. Crockpot recipes are the best for travel, and I do chili a lot. Hot Logic is a small hot plate that a lot of us use to reheat our food.” ― Kelsie Franklin, Delta Air Lines

Hot Logic Mini, <a href="https://hotlogicmini.com/products/hot-logic-mini" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$29.95 at Hotlogicmini.com</a>
Hot Logic
Hot Logic Mini, $29.95 at Hotlogicmini.com

Portable chargers

“I always carry a Sharper Image Dual USB Charger for any hotel that has limited outlets. I also always carry a power pack for charging my accessories on the plane.” ― Dustin Anderson, flight attendant with a major carrier

Sharper Image visual charge dual USB charger/outlet, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Sharper-Image-Visual-Charge-Charger/dp/B01CWX2PE6?tag=thehuffingtop-20&ascsubtag=58dbef2ae4b054637064597e,-1,-1,d,0,0,hp-fil-am=0" target="_blank" role="link" data-amazon-link="true" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$21.94 for a two-pack at Amazon</a>
Sharper Image visual charge dual USB charger/outlet, $21.94 for a two-pack at Amazon

Packing cubes

“I use a medium-sized Eagle Creek cube for all my clothing options. It keeps things compact.” ― Kelsie Franklin, Delta Air Lines

“I put my chargers, power banks and Kindle in one cube, and I put my lipstick, snacks, pen and other in-flight necessities in another. Having everything I need in one of two cubes makes it easy to grab, where digging in your bag for a long time is annoying.” ― Abbie Unger of Flight Attendant Career Connection

Eagle Creek pack-it cubes, <a href="http://shop.eaglecreek.com/packing-cubes/l/212?Sort=PriceLowToHigh" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$8.95 and up at Eaglecreek.com</a>
Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek pack-it cubes, $8.95 and up at Eaglecreek.com

A portable humidifier

“I take a portable humidifier which can fit in hotel water glasses.” ― Ellie Lee-Wasson, Endeavor Air

Crane ultrasonic cool mist travel humidifier, <a href="https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/crane-ultrasonic-cool-mist-travel-humidifier-in-black/1044423995?skuId=44423995&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_outdoorutility_&product_id=44423995&adpos=1o1&creative=43742649229&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=Cj0KEQjwtu3GBRDY6ZLY1erL44EBEiQAAKIcvqEsS6QYfN-lSSvTciwlvLx3-qGXYceS0B8dmH_pxpAaAup38P8HAQ" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond</a>
Bed Bath & Beyond
Crane ultrasonic cool mist travel humidifier, $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Just the clothing basics...

“I bring one pair of jeans, one pair of leggings, a dressier shirt, a T-shirt, sweater and a dress. It helps that the only color I wear is black, so I always match.” ― Katie Taylor, Delta Air Lines

Clockwise from top left: Moto black mom jeans, <a href="http://us.topshop.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?searchTermScope=3&searchType=ALL&viewAllFlag=false&CE3_ENDECA_PRODUCT_ROLLUP_ENABLED=N&catalogId=33060&productOnlyCount=1&sort_field=Relevance&storeId=13052&qubitRefinements=siteId%3DTopShopUS&langId=-1&beginIndex=1&productId=26628427&pageSize=20&defaultGridLayout=3&searchTerm=TS02M16KBLK&productIdentifierproduct=product&DM_PersistentCookieCreated=true&searchTermOperator=LIKE&x=25&geoip=search&y=11" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$79.99 at TopShop</a>; Care of you blouse, <a href="http://www.yoox.com/US/38633195/item?cod10=38633195CF&tp=48213&utm_campaign=Blouse%20%240-199_desktop&utm_medium=shopping&utm_source=polyvore#cod10=38633195CF&sizeId=&sizeName=" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$76 at Yoox</a>; Women's cap-sleeve pocket T, <a href="https://www.landsend.com/products/womens-cap-sleeve-pocket-tee/id_308948_48?cm_mmc=139971614" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$25 at Land's End</a>; Smocked-sleeve keyhole dress, <a href="http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=526770002&vid=3&tid=gpsh000007&cvosrc=cse.Polyvore.Product_SKU&cvo_campaign=" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$79.95 at Gap</a>; High-waist premium cotton legging, <a href="http://shop.mango.com/US/p0/women/clothing/pants/skinny/high-waist-cotton-legging?id=81077025&utm_source=polyvore&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=comparador_USA&utm_term=81077025&LGWCODE=81077025;78419;3141" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$199.99 at Mango</a>; Black mesh polka dot ballet slipper, <a href="http://us.jimmychoo.com/en/women/shoes/pumps/garner-flat/black-polka-dot-mesh-ballet-pumps-GARNERFLATKOM000074.html?cgid=women-shoes-pumps" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$525 at Jimmy Choo</a>; Oversized mohair sweater, <a href="https://genuine-people.com/products/oversized-knit-sweater-1?utm_source=polyvore&utm_medium=cpc_desktop&utm_campaign=sweaters&variant=25662160713" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$129 at Genuine People</a>
Clockwise from top left: Moto black mom jeans, $79.99 at TopShop; Care of you blouse, $76 at Yoox; Women's cap-sleeve pocket T, $25 at Land's End; Smocked-sleeve keyhole dress, $79.95 at Gap; High-waist premium cotton legging, $199.99 at Mango; Black mesh polka dot ballet slipper, $525 at Jimmy Choo; Oversized mohair sweater, $129 at Genuine People

..and ONE pair of shoes.

“A pair of Adidas typically goes with everything.” ― Kelsie Franklin, Delta Air Lines

“I bring a pair of white low-top Converse.” ― Ebony Christina of Fly Girl’s Guide

Adidas women's leather Superstar shoes, <a href="http://www.adidas.com/us/superstar-shoes/S85139.html" target="_blank" role="link" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;itc:0;cpos:__RAPID_INDEX__;pos:__RAPID_SUBINDEX__;elm:context_link">$80 at Adidas.com</a>
Adidas women's leather Superstar shoes, $80 at Adidas.com

Convenient snacks (especially oatmeal and crackers).

“Finding a healthy snack in the airport is sometimes really hard. I seriously never leave home without instant oatmeal, because all I have to do is find hot water.” ― Stella Lozano of Fly With Stella

“I pack crackers, veggies, granola bars, trail mix and cheese for snacks during the day.” ― Katie Taylor, Delta Air Lines

“I bring protein bars not dipped in chocolate (it’s messy), nuts (I love Sargento Balanced Breaks), crackers and fruit.” ― Abbie Unger of Flight Attendant Career Connection


Pack like a flight attendant, and you may have your cheapest, most convenient ― and delicious! ― trip yet.

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