5 Stylish Carry-On Essentials for the World Traveler

Traveler, airport, airplane

Source: iStock

Traveling is fun, but being on an airplane isn’t always. Between the dreaded middle seat, inedible food, and other passengers who are less than considerate, let’s just say that schlepping never feels stylish. Until now, that is: Here are the essentials you need to be equally stylish and functional from departure to arrival. Say bon voyage to ugly luggage, generic-looking electronics, and hideous comfort accessories and say hello to style whether you are a few feet from the gate or 10,000 feet above the ground.

1. Carry-On Luggage

Checking luggage isn’t just an extra charge. It’s also an extra annoyance. Waiting for luggage at the baggage claim or possibly having your luggage lost isn’t worth it, if it isn’t necessary. Don’t check your bags if you don’t have to, and instead, invest in the largest size carry-on the TSA permits (45 linear inches, which is the total of height, width and depth). While every airline has its own requirements, going with the TSA recommendation is the safest bet.

You can never go wrong with Tumi, but it’s hard to tell if its Tegra-Lite Max International Expandable Carry-On is higher in quality or style. Available in a unique graphite color, as well as navy blue with brown trim, this piece will look great and last for years. And it beats boring black every time.

2. Garment Bag

Source: Neiman Marcus

If you are traveling for business and must take a garment bag for suits, Tom Ford makes one that is simply jaw dropping. Made in Italy of chocolate colored pebbled leather, featuring signature golden hardware, it folds in half, so it keeps your clothes as wrinkle-free as possible. The rolled-leather handles assure it is easy and comfortable to carry. Take this with you and prepare to turn a few heads.

3. A Neck Pillow

A cramped neck will most certainly put a cramp in your travel plans. If you have a tendency to fall asleep on the plane (either naturally or with a little help from the bar cart or doctor), a neck pillow is an absolute must. While admittedly, it isn’t the chicest item, this accessory will make your flight undoubtedly more comfortable.

Brookstone’s BioSense Neck Travel Pillow is a smart option because it is a comfortable U-shape and made of memory foam. With its navy color and thin aqua piping, it has a little bit of flair, but remains neutral enough for you to not be embarrassed to use it.

4. Headphones


Source: Amazon

Whether it’s to listen to your favorite tunes, re-watch Friday Night Lights, or to have an out if your seat mate wants to chat your ear off about airline miles (snooze!), you need a good pair of headphones. While most airlines will give you a complimentary pair on board, free does not equal stylish.

For the truly sophisticated traveler, Danish electronics company Bang & Olufsen makes a variety of headphones from ear buds to larger, noise-canceling models. Its BeoPlay H8 – Argilla Bright headphones are available in gray leather (yes, leather!) and look ready for any kind of runway. And yes, the sounds quality parallels the striking design.

5. Tablet

If you don’t already have a tablet and travel a lot, you need one. This isn’t a toy. It’s a necessity. Even if you have a small laptop or netbook, tablets are less clunky and a whole lot lighter for traveling. It can be the one thing that keeps you entertained throughout the flight.

Apple has done what so many other manufactures have failed to do — design attractive looking products. An iPad or iPad mini (my personal favorite for traveling) always makes you look a little sleeker at your seat.

Don’t forget a carrying case like this one from Louis Vuitton in a black and grey checkerboard pattern. You can’t go wrong with anything Vuitton makes.

 More from Gear & Style Cheat Sheet: