• Sarah Douglas

What's in my Carry-on? Athlete Travel Essentials

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

On the journey to #Tokyo2020, I've become a seasoned traveller and there are a few essentials that I never leave without. Whether it's a short haul or a 12 hour flight to Japan, these items always make it into my backpack and make it smooth sailing on the way to the destination.

Helly Hansen Backpack

I prefer a backpack to a carry-on roller suitcase for a number of reasons. I have the ability to keep it at my feet to grab any items I may need throughout the flight, there is a laptop sleeve at the back for easy access at security, and when I have more than one checked bag, a backpack is easier to travel on trains, busses and getting to your destination. Get the backpack here.

Water bottle

This is an absolute must. A reusable bottle is easy to fill up at the airport and really important to stay hydrated throughout the flight. If you rely on what the airline provides it really isn't enough. The goal is to drink 1 cup per hour while awake.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

This has been a game changer for me in the last few years. They make a big difference on planes and enable me to fall asleep quicker whilst at altitude. Check mine out.


Recently I have switched from a laptop to an iPad and I love it. Travelling with an iPad is lighter, less cords and I have the ability to download Netflix movies and shows before my flight.

Small bag of Toiletries

This small bag contains a number of small toiletries to use throughout the whole travel process. I have travel sized versions of toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, makeup wipes, bandaids, Advil and Gravol. The hand sanitizer goes into the small front pocket of my backpack for easy access.

Travel adaptor

I travel to many countries with different electrical plugs. For ease, I have one universal adaptor that I can use in any destination and has USB plugs for my smaller electronics. Check mine out.

Compression socks

This is an athlete essential for flights. On long haul flights, it is crucial that I wear these compression socks to ensure I reduce the swelling and inflammation of my feet and ankles. That way I am able to get active when I arrive. Check them out.

Eye Mask

This has been a recent addition to my travel essentials. I use this on all flights and even when I am sleeping in a new place. Eliminating light makes a big difference on sleeping both on the plane and in a destination where the sun may rise at 5am.


This is a personal preference. My eyes have become sensitive to light after the many, many hours I've spent in the sun and on the water. Sunglasses are crucial to have on hand for when I arrive in the daylight and when I am required to drive a rental car to get to my destination.

There are a couple more items such as a sweater, snacks and chargers that I put in to complete my travel carry on.

I hope this showed you some insight on the travel life of an athlete and help you with your upcoming travels.