This blog post was updated on September 5, 2018.
A little reminder can go a long way, which is why I’m taking the time to focus on something we should all already know but may need a reminder about now and then as to how and why we do it.
The carry-on bag. The big craze these days is to just fly with only what you can fit in carry-on, and while most of the time this is my process, there are circumstances that just don’t allow for it. Study abroad, long-term travel, or just carrying copious amounts of souvenirs and gifts make carry-on only travel very difficult.
In these cases, one must be reminded of what exactly belongs in the checked baggage, and what can and should be carried on the plane. Here is my list of the top 10 things you should not forget when packing your carry-on bag:
1. Electronics / Breakables / Valuables: Camera equipment, laptops and expensive jewelry should probably never be left out of your sight. Sure, you can lock your checked bag, but you just never know what is going on with your suitcase while you’re not around. Don’t you remember seeing that busted-up and slightly-opened piece of luggage sadly rotating on the conveyor belt? Don’t think this can’t happen to you.
2. Chargers and Adapters for Electronics: Laptops and cell phones are good for work, keeping in touch with family and helping yourself get out of any sticky, unexpected layover situations caused by bad weather. Having them around is great, but forgetting to pack your chargers and plug adapters in your carry-on can render them useless when you need them most.
3. Non-electric Forms of Entertainment: Books, magazines, pens and paper and a deck of cards all fit nicely in a carry-on bag and prove worthy on any wait when you just don’t want to deal with the electronics.
4. Medicines: Anything vital like prescription medication should be carried on-board with you. You may think of your trip as a short few hour jaunt and then unexpectedly find yourself stranded in your layover airport for a day because of weather… and no medication. It happens.
5. Clean Undergarments: If you can’t fit an entire change of clothes, the next best thing is a fresh pair of socks and underwear. It’s amazing how much less grimy these two items will make you feel, and the fresh socks are a savior to your flight neighbors as well.
6. Breath Freshener: Although a toothbrush would be optimal, even a pack of gum or Tic Tacs will do the trick. Airplane and airport food, a few drinks and an ice cream for dessert can leave your mouth a bit rank, and that’s something the people around you will notice when you’re dozing off into dream world with your mouth wide open on the flight.
7. Deodorant: It doesn’t substitute for a proper shower, but the deodorant will at least help you stay fresher longer, and that’s really important if you have to deal with delayed and canceled flights.
8. An Extra Layer: It could be the middle of summer, but those flights and airports can sometimes get extra chilly. You might enjoy a bit of red wine, but what happens when turbulence causes it to splatter all over your shirt? These are both excellent reasons why an extra layer – a long-sleeve shirt or a light jacket – make for the perfect carry-on item.
9. Travel Details: You just might need those extra hotel, flight and visa details with you, so be sure those are in your carry-on. It especially helps when passing through customs in some countries to have your bookings and visa letters on hand.
10. Passport: Well, you probably won’t be going very far if you don’t have one of these!