Pack Your Leather Tote Bag Like a Pro: What to Include in Your Carry-On Bag | Popov Leather

Pack Your Leather Tote Bag Like a Pro: What to Include in Your Carry-On Bag

Whether it’s your first time on a plane or you’ve been wracking up your frequent flier miles, there’s always a level of nervous excitement associated with packing for a flight. Some people may choose to only travel with a carry-on bag, foregoing checking their luggage entirely. But for many people, your carry-on bag is there to hold your flight necessities. 

Pack too much in your carry-on bag, and you could spend your flight digging through it, unable to locate what you need. But pack too little, and you may find yourself missing basic necessities that you could have planned ahead for. 

Instead of worrying about it, pack your carry-on like a pro by starting with a plan you can stick to. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the most important items to have on your carry-on bag, as well as a few items that can be nice to have, and help you organize your leather tote bag so that you can easily find what you need when you need it. 

Choosing a leather tote bag for a carry-on

Before you begin packing your carry-on bag, you first have to decide on the right type of bag for your trip. Leather tote bags are an ideal choice for carry-on bags for a number of reasons. 

The soft, supple leather material makes it easy to stow your leather tote beneath the seat in front of you. This makes it easy to access anything you need during your flight without having to stand up or climb over the person sitting in the aisle seat. 

Our leather tote bags also have large pockets on the inside and outside, allowing you to organize your bag with ease. 

Having a well-organized bag is one of the best ways to reduce your stress and ensure your flight is as comfortable as possible. 


man holding black leather tote bag
Popov Leather - Weekender Tote

Preparing your leather tote bag for the plane

Before you begin packing your leather tote bag, you want to make some basic preparations. Before you do anything else, be sure to add a luggage tag to your carry-on bag. Although a small leather bag shouldn’t ever need to be checked, you can never be too safe.

Your leather bag should also include any paperwork you need for your flight — including your boarding passes, your hotel reservation information, and your ID wallet or passport — in the outside pocket. 

On the day of your flight, you may prefer to keep these items on your person, but including them in the outer pocket of your carry-on as you ready your bag ensures they don’t get left behind.

Finally, you’ll want to stow one extra outfit in the bottom of your carry-on bag. If you arrive before your checked luggage or have to set down at another airport unexpectedly, having a clean pair of underwear can make a world of difference. 

And if there’s some sort of incident that soils the clothing you’re wearing — such as the person in a neighboring seat getting sick — having the ability to change clothes can make the rest of your flight much more comfortable. 

Packing a leather toiletry bag in your tote bag

Inside your larger carry-on bag, it’s a good idea to have a small bag with products like toiletries and medication inside. A men's leather toiletry bag — or Dopp kit — provides ample room for these items.

Here’s what you need to include in your leather toiletry bag. 


The term “toiletries” is right in the name, so it makes sense that these items should be the first items in your toiletry bag. When deciding what toiletries to pack, think about what you most need to have with you on your trip. At a minimum, this should include: 

You may also choose to pack toiletries such as makeup or hair products. Per TSA guidelines, these liquids must be kept in bottles that weigh 3.4 oz or less. You may pack as many as you can fit in a single quart-sized Ziploc baggie.

If you’re checking a bag as well as packing a carry-on, you can have fewer products in your carry-on bag. However, it’s a good idea to keep at least a day’s worth of toiletries on your person in case your checked bags are delayed for some reason. 


Any medication you need to take daily should be in your carry-on bag. You should also include medications, like inhalers or Epipens, that you don’t take daily but may need in an emergency.

You are allowed to carry your medication on your flight in “reasonable quantities.” Typically, this means that you can have the amount of medication your doctor would supply in a single refill or the amount you would buy over-the-counter and stick in your purse.

While the TSA does not require your medicine to be in prescription pill bottles, individual states and countries have their own regulations, so it’s safest to keep your medication in its original bottles when you’re traveling.

If any of your medicine comes in a liquid form and the bottle is larger than 3.4 oz, you will be required to tell TSA about it before they begin checking your bags. Otherwise, you are not required to disclose the presence of your medicine.

Health & Safety Supplies

The final thing to keep in your leather toiletry bag is a collection of health and safety supplies. This may include face masks, hand sanitizer, and basic first-aid equipment like band-aids. Very Well Health has a great article about the first aid items you can take on flights

Other items to pack in your leather tote bag

Once you have the most critical items stowed in your leather tote bag, you can move on to the items you’re more likely to use during the flight itself. This includes entertainment, technology, snacks, and comfort items. 


Although it’s important not to over-pack your in-flight entertainment, you want to ensure that you have enough entertainment to last not just while you’re on the plane but also while you’re waiting in layover locations. Having a book or two is a good idea, as it can take several hours to read through a good book. 

Other smart entertainment options include:

  • Puzzle books
  • An audiobook
  • A deck of cards
  • An adult coloring book
  • A journal


If nothing else, it’s a good idea to pack a pair of headphones when you fly. Most planes offer movies for longer flights as a courtesy, but they’ll charge you to buy a pair of headphones. Having your own headphones allows you to plug in and kick back for free. 

Other technology to pack includes a phone and charger — which you’ll want easy access to once you land — and a laptop or tablet if you’re hoping to catch up on some work while you’re flying. 


Bringing your own snacks on a plane ensures you have food that you enjoy without having to pay exorbitant airline food prices. However, there are some tricks to packing snacks like a pro.

The TSA won’t allow you to bring full water bottles (or soda bottles) through security. If you want to bring your own drinks on the plane, you have two options. One option is to purchase the drinks once you’re through the security checkpoint. The other option is to bring an empty water bottle and then fill it once you’ve gone through security. 

When it comes to food products, you’re fine as long as you’re packing solid food items like crackers or cookies. However, liquid or gel items — including peanut butter — will be required to be in containers less than 3.4 oz and stowed in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. 

As you’re packing your airplane snacks, try to have a variety of food types. You never know how your body will react to flying. Light snacks like crackers may be preferred if you’re dealing with motion sickness, while more filling snacks like fruit or sandwiches may be preferred if your flight gets delayed longer than expected. 

Comfort items

The final items you should add to your carry-on are any items that may make your flight more comfortable. This could include pillows that wrap around your neck, sweatshirts or light blankets in case it gets cold, or even a face mask to allow you to sleep on the plane if your neighbor has their reading light on. Being responsible for your comfort before you step onto the plane sets you up for success on your flight. 

Organizing your carry on bag

There’s a method to organizing your leather tote bag for the plane ride. The goal is to have everything you will definitely need at the top of your bag, and optional items further down. 

Stick your Dopp kit on its side to the edge of the tote bag with the handle facing up. This allows you to pull the bag out quickly if there’s an emergency and you need your medication while providing plenty of room for everything else you need.

The outer pocket of your leather tote bag should contain items like your sunglasses case, ID wallet, boarding passes, cell phone, car keys, and hotel reservations. If there’s a chance you’ll need to access the items while navigating the throngs of people lining up for security, the outer pocket is where you want to have it.

Any other technology you’re packing, including chargers and tablets, should go in the inner pocket of your tote bag. This provides a level of protection between it and the other items in your carry-on.

Your change of clothes belongs at the very bottom of your carry-on bag, since you’ll only need it in an emergency. Comfort items like pillows or blankets should be added next. Entertainment items and snacks belong at the top of your carry-on bag, with snacks separated into their own baggy to keep them organized. 

Enjoy your next flight with confidence

When you have a plan of attack, packing becomes a breeze. Instead of stressing about what to pack in your carry-on, you can approach the situation with confidence, knowing that you have everything you need for a successful flight and arrival. With your leather tote bag perfectly packed, you can move on to daydreaming about vacation locales or answering last-minute correspondence before you board your plane. 

Article by Ryan Popoff

Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.

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