What to Pack in your Personal Item

What to Pack in your Personal Item

Every airline carrier has its own set of luggage restrictions and fees. However, all of them have one thing in common: you’re allowed to take one personal item free of charge.

Wondering what a personal item is? Is it the same as a carry-on bag? And what can you bring in your personal item?

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! Find out the difference between a carry on vs. personal item, what is allowed in a personal item bag and get carry-on bag examples, as well as a handy dandy personal item packing list.


A personal item is a type of hand luggage that you carry on to the plane with you and is smaller than a carry-on. What is considered a personal item bag varies from airline to airline, but a small purse, briefcase and laptop bag are always considered personal items. Backpacks, totes, and crossbody bags are typically considered personal items too. The key to remember is the bag must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

A carry-on is a type of luggage that you bring into the plane cabin with you and is larger than a personal item. It must either fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin.


So, how do you choose the right travel personal item bag, and what can you pack in it?

Ask yourself, where are you going? What type of trip are you taking — business or pleasure? Always check with your airline before packing a personal item bag as there’s no one-size-fits-all size that’s allowed. You don’t want to get stuck having to check your bag, likely paying a fee to boot.


When taking a business trip, you’ll likely require your laptop and other electrical devices such as a tablet. With that in mind, a briefcase would be a suitable choice. Our Large Expandable Brief is the ultimate personal item bag for a work trip. It features three different sections: an organizer, a generously sized main compartment, and a laptop compartment to hold a 17” device — there’s also a bonus private compartment for a change of clothes.

As if that doesn’t sound spacious enough, this model features Briggs & Riley’s CX compression-expansion technology, which adds even more packing space (2.5 inches to be exact) before compressing back down to the original size, which means you have room for your essentials. There are also four slip pockets (including one padded one for your tablet) and an elastic bloused pocket in the main compartment for specifically storing cables and charges, so they don’t get tangled up with all your other belongings.

If you’re looking for something on the smaller side, you might like a more traditional model such as the @work Medium Brief. It has enough space for a 15" Apple® MacBook (or a 15.6” laptop), as well as additional storage for other business essentials. This bag also features our Corner SpeedThru™ pocket for quick storage of items at security checkpoints. It can be easily accessed without letting go of the handles.


There are many more personal travel bag options to choose from when you’re taking a trip for pleasure. Backpacks are a classic option but, rest assured, our models are the grown-up version of your childhood school days!

Take, for example, the lightweight and stylish Rhapsody Collection Essential Backpack. Along with dedicated space for your go-to essentials, this expandable laptop backpack also has a cavernous compartment for bulkier items such as a change of clothing and a pair of shoes.

Hate airport security lines? Who doesn’t? The expandable Large Fold-Over Backpack provides access to the interior via a strategically placed pocket to help save time in airport security lines.

Versatile, durable, reusable, and stylish, a travel tote bag is a must-have essential for any traveler type. A carry-on tote, such as our Essential, is light-weight - yet it has enough generous packing space to fit necessities such as reading material, snacks, a cosmetic bag (if applicable), travel documents, and more.

If you’re looking for a roomy carry-on tote bag that can serve multiple purposes, our Extra Large Tote can be used for your flight, souvenir scouting, a trip to the beach, or whatever else your travel plans have in store.

Crossbody bags are also an ideal personal item bag because they are comfortable to carry around. After all, the weight of the bag is evenly distributed on both sides of your body. This bag style also means your hands are free to carry your coffee and show your travel documents. Our Crossbody Sling bag features a versatile shoulder-or-waist strap. The tablet pocket is padded, so it will be protected from all the other goods you can stuff in this generously sized crossbody travel bag.


When packing a personal item bag, you first have to remember the items you can’t take on a plane. For starters, can you have liquids in your personal item? Well, yes and no. UK regulations allow you to bring containers that hold no more than 100ml. Containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm. Contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed. Each person is limited to one plastic bag, which must be shown at the security check point.


  • Travel documents and passport if needed
  • Wallet and ID
  • Reading material
  • Eyewear - prescription and sun protection
  • Electronics such as a laptop, tablet, cellphone, camera, suitable chargers, etc.
  • Snacks (but keep them on the non-smelly side - nobody wants to sit next to the tuna sandwich eater)
  • Gum or mints
  • Toothbrush
  • Airline-approved toiletries (and makeup if applicable)
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Fuzzy warm socks or slippers
  • Tissues
  • Hair Ties
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Earplugs
  • A DIY medical kit that includes daily and necessary medications (think anti-nausea meds, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea tablets, etc.), band-aids, an Epi-Pen, antiseptic cream, ace bandage, etc.
  • A travel neck pillow, eye mask, and a light blanket for added comfort 
  • A carry-on cocktail kit for elevated in-flight sipping (responsibly, of course) 
  • Journal and writing utensil


As you can see, there are a variety of types of personal items bags, making it easy to find one that best suits your style and travel needs. The most common types include:

Shop BR to find your perfect personal item bag and bring it with you on your next trip. Be sure to check out the array of modern bags in our popular Baseline Collection

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