10 Carry-On Essentials We Always Travel With

Becoming adept at working while traveling requires several instances of trial and error (e.g. always bring your own power adapter; preload an offline map of wherever you’re traveling to) – strategies and preferences born out of necessity, but also shaped by preferences in comfort we enjoy while at home. Inspired by last year’s City in a Suitcase series I considered my own selection of essentials – technology, clothing, accessories – that have earned their place within my luggage whenever a passport is required, each valued because they’ve proved invaluable while working abroad.

This Is Ground Mod Laptop 3
As a devout adherent to “everything in place, a place for everything”, the Mod Laptop 3 is a dream come true to satiate my orderly inclinations, offering storage for my laptop, phone, tablet, plethora of charging cords, camera memory cards, business cards, pens, and notebook. The Mod Laptop 3’s combination of fine leather and well-planned layout of storage options makes this the type of sophisticated travel accessory that ages well while retaining a trusted utility regardless of the situation.

Another recommended and more affordable option for laptops and tech storage are the carry-all and backpacks from HEX.

Apple AirPods
I’ve come to love traveling with the cordless version of the earbuds that ship with the iPhone. Once outfitted with additional molded covers for an improved fit for my large ear canals, removing the annoyance of the tangle of cords normally associated with headphones/earbuds while listening to podcasts or watching movies/TV shows on the iPad en route offers an instant flight upgrade, even if I’m flying coach.

Raden A50 Set
After one too many instances where baggage handlers tossed my set of Muji luggage around like frisbees, eventually resulting in a corner crack, I decided to upgrade to a version 2.0 option – each outfitted with an array of features: wireless tracking, device charging, and even built-in weighing using the handle as as scale. The Makrolon polycarbonate build encasement has proved rugged, flexible, and capacious, while the wheels glide smoothly when running to connecting flights. The price also falls in that sweet spot between an investment in quality without requiring to break the bank.

Fulton & Roark Solid Fragrances
Solid colognes offer a pragmatic and pleasantly fragrant scent ideal for travel; a compact, rugged all-metal carrying case barely takes up any space. And because these are highly concentrated solids instead of a watered down liquid, only a small dab around the neck and rubbed across the wrists is needed to impart an agreeable smell that often invites a curious, “What’s that you’re wearing?” without ever having to worry about any spillage, whether checked-in or carried on.

Prospective Flow Haori Shirt
I have to credit my friends at Sonomama for turning me onto this local fashion label that has quickly become a staple of my travel wear. These haori shirts offer all of the benefits of a lightweight top layer with the versatility of working with both leisure and formal shirts underneath; I wear them while at trade shows or walking foreign locales without encumbrance. Made and designed in Los Angeles by a Japanese team of brothers, I purchased two of these Japanese-inspired pieces for traveling, smitten with their loose-fitting, garment-dyed style.

Akamai Skin Fuel
My skin has a tendency to get dry while traveling. Between the stale air inside airplanes, hotel rooms, and conference/trade shows in foreign locales, even with proper hydration I am sometimes shocked to see the haggard face staring back at me in the mirror after a day of transit. Akamai’s 2oz TSA-compliant concoction is formulated with recognizable natural ingredients – coconut, jojoba, olive, and argan oils with trace minerals and fulvic acid – are combined to moisturize skin and hair (and operates as aftershave too) forgoing the usual unpronounceable laundry list of chemicals. At home, I use both their 3-in-1 soap bar and mineral toothpaste, both similarly formulated with only a short list of ingredients.

dish & DUER Limitless Stretch Infinity Pant
When I first began traveling for work, I’d have a tendency to overpack, bringing an outfit for all-occasions. It made for an excessive amount of time packing and a heavy suitcase. In time I began editing down clothing options down to multi-purpose solutions that could easily transition from casual travel wear to more formal occasions with just the right accompanying pieces. Dish & DUER Limitless Stretch Infinity Pant immediately became my favorite trousers for their comfort and fashionably slim fit. Even with the occasional rush job while packing, these pants somehow remain unblemished by wrinkles, and proved extremely comfortable even after being stuck on a 13-hour flight to Dubai.

Sony DSC-RX100M3 Digital Camera
The scratches and dings tell you this Sony camera has been with me a few years now  – Sony is a few iterations ahead, upgrading with a few new bells and whistles with every version. But to be honest, I haven’t had a strong reason to upgrade because of the camera’s durability and dependable ZEISS-outfitted lens. I still throw the slightly worn for wear point and shoot camera when I don’t want to lug around interchangeable lens and camera gear, but still desire photos with range and resolution out of the realm of either my iPhone or Pixel cameras.

Insignia Global Travel Adapter Kit
I don’t know how many times this nesting power adapter kit has saved me while traveling. The 4 adapters stored inside have allowed me to plug into outlets across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia without trouble; the neatly organized design fitting all together was its selling point.

Bang & Olufsen USB Charger
If I recollect correctly, I received this complimentary USB charger at CES a few years ago at the conclusion of a press event. Unlike 98% of promotional freebies I’m offered, I’ve kept this one, and it’s found a regular spot in my travel pack, capable of powering up either my Android or iOS devices about 1.5x times before needing a recharge itself. It’s probably just a rebranded generic charger, but I love the compact size – super convenient for stowing away into a backpack sleeve or inside a pant pocket.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at