Cruising: What’s In My Carry-On, My Must Haves, and Packing Tips & Tricks

I am writing this post to try and help those of you out there who might be new to cruising, or even those of you who might have cruised before, but, like to make a little list of things to start gathering before your cruise.  I will include what I usually put in my Carry-On bag, my Must Haves for on the cruise ship, and I’ll even include a section with some packing tips & tricks. 🙂  I’ve implemented these little helpful hints on our cruises that up to this point have  been to Alaska (4 times w/3 more in the queue), Hawaii, and Canada & New England. 😉 So enough chattering from me, let’s jump right in and get started…

I’ll begin with showing you my carry-on bag and what I normally will keep with me on our journey on the jet, or even in the car.  Then, once at our destination, I’ll have the bag with me if I want to take it on excursions and so forth.

This is the bag that I used for our Hawaii and Canada and New England trips and it worked like a charm, it is a Vera Bradley’s Campus Backpack in Midnight Paisley.  I’m sure I looked like a girlie-girl carrying this through the airport and beyond, but, I didn’t care…I’m pretty comfortable with myself and don’t really care what others think. 🙂  I love Vera for its versatility, structure, and usability–I have searched for something that better suits my needs to no avail; I have made my way back to my old stand by in my Vera.


I put all of my Captain’s Circle Pins on it too–I’m such a geek! lol


So let’s see what will be in my Carry-On. 🙂

My 13″ MacBook Pro–We loaded some movies onto this and it became the holder of 1000’s of pictures that we took.


My earphones to use on the plane or in the car…


My Kindle Paperwhite — Here is a link for the case:

IMG_1090 (1)

A wallet with cash, credit cards, and our passports…


It also has a little chain attached; pretty if I want to use it on the ship to carry a lipstick, tissues, etc… with me to dinner…


One of these pocket folders that will hold our cruise documents and travel insurance papers.  I’m taking the other two folders in my checked luggage as well, I will use them to store our Princess Patters and any other info I collect from the ports etc…to be used in future blogs or possibly any Scrapbooks I might get the urge to create…


Here is a little video I just made with the folders that I just ordered and will be using on our next cruise:

I always bring a little notebook to be utilized for journaling and taking notes about wherever we are at any given moment in time.  I am a stickler for facts being correct…


A little catch-all bag (Vera Bradley medium cosmetic bag) with possible necessities for the flight…


A crossword puzzle book and a few pens; I love doing crosswords, it gives my brain a work-out. 🙂


Okay, so that about does it for my Carry-On, I’m betting I throw a couple of other things in there as well, but, let’s move on to a few things that I always take with me on a cruise.

“My Must Haves”:

***These are, as the title suggests “MY” Must Haves–I realize that they might not be everyones***

First of all, I was just shown these wonderful luggage tags specifically designed to hold Princess (and other cruise lines) luggage tags.  I ordered these from here; they just arrived and they are so very thick and nice, I know they are going to work really well.


I take Clorox wipes, and the first thing I do when I get to our Stateroom is wipe down the door knobs, light switches, desk area, tv remote, sink, toilet, balcony railing/chair arms/table, etc…Can’t be too careful. 🙂


I take my own shampoo.  I LOVE Princess Cruises, but I do not love the shampoo/conditioner that they have on their ships.  Their’s is housed in a nifty pump dispenser hanging in the shower (they also have shower gel…it’s not bad), but, it makes my hair go FLAT–I’m a Southern girl, I do not like flat hair. 😉

Here is what I’m referring to…This is the pump duo that was in our Mini-Suite on the Star:


So I take this shampoo with me, this is my every day go-to brand…

IMG_4634Two bars of soap, yes, I take my own soap…I like it much better than the shower gel they provide.IMG_4654I also bring travel sized shower gel and lotion…IMG_0797A little hook <~~link~~ to hang around the towel rack in the shower.  It will hold my shower cap…lol…I know, sounds silly, but, I have color treated hair and I do not wash my hair every day, so a shower cap is a necessity for me. 🙂  (OH brother, I feel like I’m baring my soul here…LOL). 😉IMG_4639Disposable shower caps…Aren’t they purdy? 😉 😉IMG_4640While we’re talking about the bathroom, let me show you this cute little toothbrush holder that I found online…Love it!  You can find one here:IMG_4631I also bring hand soap, I do not like having a bar of soap sitting on the sink at all times–one of my little quirks (I have many obviously…lol)…IMG_4630This room spray is the BEST stuff!  Just to let you know, there are no exhaust fans in the bathrooms on the cruise ship, so I find that having this “odor eliminating” room spray makes it a bit more pleasant to exist in our times…ahem, you get my drift. 😉IMG_4667

*****Just to let you know I used to have a picture of a surge protector here, but have recently found out that you are not allowed to use one on Princess ships…Here is the blurb from Princess’ safety information that you can find in your Cruise Personalizer (Go to your “My Princess”, then to “Print Boarding Passes”, then scroll down to the “Safety PDF” link).  And I quote:

“The use of extension cords fitted with surge protection devices are prohibited in staterooms. The use of non-thermostatically controlled kettles and water heaters, together with the use of irons, is not permitted in your stateroom; please do not bring this type of equipment with you.”

When I find a viable option, I will post something in here…For now, I’m planning to take a regular extension cord, or power strip with no surge protection–I definitely suggest taking *something* because there aren’t many outlets available in the Staterooms.*****

I hardly ever need to take Tums…BUT…I always need to take them on our cruises.  The food is so different, richer, and there is so much of it that I invariably over-eat and need a little relief…

IMG_4607A flashlight is nice to have, even in a balcony cabin–I just feel more secure knowing that we have one in one of the bedside tables just in case the lights go out for any reason…IMG_4672We carry a travel 1875 hairdryer with us…It would take me 20 minutes to dry my hair with the hair dryer that they provide (hung on the wall at the desk area beside the bed).IMG_0783Now, I know that a lot of people baulk at the thought of doing laundry while on vacation, but, I find that doing just a little bit makes me feel better–I hate to see piles of dirty clothes just laying on the floor (of the closet of course), and I like to save myself a little time when I get home.  So yes, I do do laundry while on board…don’t judge…;)  That said, it isn’t cheap to do laundry on board, it costs $3 to wash and $3 to dry—in tokens.  Then, if you don’t take your own detergent and dryer sheets, you have to spend more $$ to purchase them out of a vending machine type thing that also requires tokens.  OH you retrieve the tokens from the token vending machine that is in the laundry room using your cruise card as payment.

(Here is the laundry room on the Star Princess):

Image 3 (3)It is free to use the irons and ironing boards:Image 2 (5)

Can anyone say “cha-ching cha-ching” though?  I take tide pods, and Downy dryer sheets:

Did you know that the walls in your Stateroom are metal? Yep, they sure are, so I take a couple of clip magnets to be used to hold…oh, I don’t know, that day’s Princess Patter for instance…



I purchased a package of large clips, they can be used to hold your beach towel on your chair, or possibly to hold your curtains shut (especially in Alaska when it hardly ever gets dark) If you’d like some for yourself, here is a link:


Binoculars…is a thought…We don’t usually take them because we tend to use the zoom lens’ on our cameras:IMG_0786A pair of scissors…One never knows when one might need to cut a tag off of something, or a string…IMG_1018A sweet little sewing kit…

IMG_1052A pop-up laundry basket…This will easily fit into the closet in the stateroom…I’ll put a Downy sheet down into it to help with any ‘interesting’ smells..;)

A first-aid kit…IMG_1051A portable suitcase scale…Handy to have so that you can switch things from one bag to the other to try and distribute the weight sufficiently. IMG_1019Zip-lock bags of varying sizes…A tip another traveler gave me just recently. I can see me using these for a variety of things. 🙂  IMG_1142.JPG

Dramamine and Bonine just in case of really rough seas–we’ve never gotten sea sick, but, I always take them just in case.   I’ve also heard folks speak about “Queasy Beads”, but, I am not in the know about them, I’m sure you can Google them though. 🙂




I love this little (3.25″ x 0.5″ x 2.75″) travel clock, it works like a charm!  I am one of those people who, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I want to be able to see what time it is.  I found this on Amazon here, it is a Marathon Atomic travel alarm clock with an auto night light feature.


I purchased a lanyard when I was on board this last time, and I found that I loved using it! The gentleman at the counter in the Sundries shop punched a hole in my cruise card for me:


Cameras and Tech’y’ Stuff

Here are our cameras, and these are definitely my very most important “must haves”:

IMG_0785We just purchased that sweet little Sony video camera for this trip.  In addition, we’ve got a couple of zoom lens’ that usually go along with us..Also, don’t forget your download cord.

My hubby just purchased a 256 gb SSD (solid-state drive) and he has been loading movies onto it for us to watch on the laptop on the plane.

IMG_1062He said that he *might* take an external hard drive as well (1T) just in case we really do go crazy with our picture taking and need another place to store them…IMG_5333We will also be taking this device charger–It will charge anything with a USB cord attached, great to have on the plane especially if there is no place to plug in…You can find one here:IMG_1057I love to have this little camera around my neck as I walk around the ship–I probably look a site, but I love to have this with me to catch anything that might meet my fancy to photograph.


AND, I take my Selfie-Stick…LOL…I can hear you chuckling now! BUT, I love to take pictures of us as a couple and it is easier to accomplish that task with a selfie stick…IMG_4610Here we are on our last Alaskan cruise…Can I just say that I am married to my soulmate…We’ll be married for 34 years come May…I love him more now, than the day we said “I Do”…so blessed and lucky to have him…:DSCN0107

Packing Tips & Tricks

Now, let’s move on to some new packing tips and tricks that our daughter Christin provided for me…in the form of MANY Christmas presents.  My goodness, she spoiled me ROTTEN; she did her research on YouTube and came up with some great options for me to use when I go to pack!

Here is what she gave me:

The first item is called an “Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder” organizer…Here is a link for a YouTube video demonstrating how it is used. 🙂IMG_4649


Here is how I put this envelope to use; I had upwards of 25 tops in that envelope:

Next, she gave me this “Shacke Pak” Packing Cube Set with laundry bag.  I have a YouTube Travel Channel and I have created a video where I show you how I utilized my packing folder and cubes on our last cruise. Here you go if you like to take a look:



And here is what my suitcase looked like after utilizing that envelope and packing cubes:


IF those wonderful gifts weren’t enough, she spoiled me even further and gave me a couple of awesome “Thirty-One” bags…With my initial embroidered on them…what?!!  SO nice. ***THANK you Christin for ALL of your gifts!!***  Here they are:

This one is for make-up:IMG_4659IMG_4660IMG_4661And this one is for jewelry:IMG_4662IMG_4664And…The gifts kept coming:

Pill boxes…I can use one for my carry-on and one for in the large suitcase…

IMG_4653I will actually not use this nice little carry-on kit <~~similar~~ for the things in my carry-on bag as I don’t have that many fluids to carry with me, but, this will come in really handy on the night before we disembark the ship.  As most of you who have cruised before know who don’t self-disembark (meaning some carry their own luggage off of the ship), your luggage is retrieved from outside of your door the evening before you leave.  I will use these bottles to put shampoo and my hair gel in, and whatever else I’ll need for my morning routine on the last morning on the ship.


OH I also will carry this extra bag a Vera Bradley Weekender Carry-On Bag in my smaller suitcase and will utilize it as a carry-on bag for the plane trip home.  It will hold our dirty clothes from the last day on board, our morning toiletries, and anything else I find that I need to stick in it for our trip home.IMG_0798A couple of last thoughts…

First, excuse my awful nail polishing job–lol–but I wanted to show you that I always take my nail polish in a separate plastic’type’ bag…JUST in case something breaks in the plane.  I take a larger bag for my perfume and any other full-size breakable items that I take with me…I will usually wrap them in paper towels or a bit of bubble wrap so that they are padded.IMG_1141And last but not least, I always bring a cross body purse to take on excursions…This time I’m bring a Vera Bradley Mailbag Crossbody. IMG_1089

I took this sweet little “Petite Double Zip Hipster” purse with me on our last cruise, it worked beautifully for our excursions.  I purchased mine in red, unfortunately, at this moment in time, they do not have the red available. But that link will take you to the colors that are available from Amazon (which I find to be less expensive than the Vera site…usually). 🙂  Here I am carrying this bag:


And here I am with Chris’ look-alike…bwahahaha…JUST kidding. 😉 🙂 We had a good laugh with this fella though:


All righty, that about does it for now…OH wait!!  I *JUST* remembered something!!  I also take a little kit of cold meds, pain reliever,  etc…It is much cheaper to have that stuff already with you than it is to buy it on board.  They do have a small “Sundries” shop on board all Princess ships though…Here it is on the Star Princess:


ANYway, I hope that this little post will help you when start to ready yourself for your upcoming trip.  I know that my must haves are not the same as your must haves, but I’m hoping that mine spark a thought of something that you might not have thought of or realized that you might need. 🙂

Until next time, y’all take good care! ❤

~Arlynn ❤

PS–Here are a few links to some of my cruise blog posts:

This is the first post in my Alaska series, there is a link at the end of each post that will take you to the next post/day of the cruise.  I include tons of pictures, information about and links to excursions (from our latest trip to Alaska and also from past trips):

Alaska: Voyage of the Glaciers – Southbound

Here is a link to my Hawaii blog series, again, there is a link at the end of each post that will take you to the next post/day of the cruise:

Hawaii Cruise: 15 Night Roundtrip Out Of Vancouver–Star Princess

Here is a link to my YouTube video of me narrating and giving a detailed tour around our Stateroom on the Star Princess:

Tour of Mini-Suite D620

And 3 more links…Some of you ladies like to see my wardrobe choices for our cruises, so here are a few links, one for Alaska, one for Hawaii , and one for Canada and New England showing you my choices:

Alaska Cruise Wardrobe Choices (1)

Alaska Cruise Wardrobe Choices (2 and most recent)

Hawaii Cruise Wardrobe Choices

Canada and New England Wardrobe Choices