Whether it’s a one-day tour of a few local museums, an informative excursion to a national park, or a journey abroad to a new city, there’s nothing students look forward to more than school trips. But before you head off to lands unknown, there’s one important task that you shouldn’t forget — packing your carry-on.

Any explorer worth their salt knows that the key to a successful expedition is preparation. Aside from checked bags, most airlines give allowances for two carry-ons. One small bag that you can stow under the airplane seat, and one carry-on luggage that should fit in the overhead compartment, has functioning zips, and no wonky wheels. Use this list as a guide for which essentials you should have in your carry-on for your trip.

Arival board at airport

Your travel documents are of the utmost importance. You don’t want to land in Spain for your language immersion trip only to be turned away by border control officers because you forgot to bring proof that supports your travel.

Make sure to double-check that you’re carrying all the required documents, including your passport, boarding pass, student visa, travel insurance, and school ID, as well as clear and legible photocopies. Store the original versions somewhere easily accessible so you can breeze through check-in counters and security lines. Meanwhile, safely set aside the copies in your carry-on luggage.

Power Bank & Universal Adapter

There’s almost nothing worse than arriving in a foreign destination with a drained mobile phone and then realizing that you don’t have the right charger plug for the socket. To avoid this situation, pack a universal adapter and a fully-charged power bank like the one from Halo. It can power an iPhone 12 for up to 96 hours, and it’s lightweight and portable, so it won’t take up too much space in your carry-on.

Depending on where you’re headed, you may also require a travel power adapter. This is especially vital if your journey involves crossing multiple borders, as countries will have different power sockets.

5 carry-on essentials

Sun Protection

Whether you’ll be taking some time to go skiing in the Alps of Switzerland or jetting off to the City of Lights, shielding yourself from harmful UV rays is crucial. Don’t put your eyes through needless strain by going under the sun without protection. If you have poor eyesight, invest in high-quality prescription sunglasses that shield your eyes from 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Check out styles like Ray-Ban’s Corrigan frames which feature maximum glare reduction for optimal vision in bright conditions, making it perfect for sightseeing. Alternatively, the brand Arnette carries budget-friendly options without compromising on quality.

For added protection, don’t neglect to pack a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If you’re looking for one that won’t be a pain to reapply throughout the day, try sunscreen spray. Go for brands like Sun Bum’s SPF 45 Face Mist or Coppertone’s Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray.


If you’re prone to allergies, headaches, or nausea, make sure you include the medications you need in your carry-on. The TSA has a stringent screening process, so, to bypass any problems, make sure your medications are clearly labeled.

Also, keep in mind that some countries have restrictions on common medications. In Zambia, for instance, they don’t allow diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl). Consequently, it’s best to search for an alternative that’s appropriate for your destination. For other prescription medications, pack enough for your trip and have a copy of your doctor’s prescription ready on your phone or printed out, just to be safe.

Emergency Change of Clothes and Toiletries

So many things can go wrong on a trip. From accidental spills to stolen bags or an airline losing your luggage, be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Have an extra shirt, one pair of pants, undergarments, and basic toiletries in your carry-on. It’s better to pack spare clothes and a toothbrush than unnecessarily spend money at an airport gift shop to make up for losing your bags.

Going on a school trip abroad is a thrill ride, but forgetting one or two essentials can spell trouble. Ensure that you have everything you need so you can make the most out of this memorable, character-building opportunity.