We’ve all been there – desperately checking carry-on regulations and trying to divide what to pack in each piece of luggage. What will I need on the plane? What can’t I live a few hours without? What’s allowed? What if I pack too much? What if my suitcase is lost or late to my destination? How can I possibly follow the 3 oz Ziploc bag rule with all this stuff?
Staring into the opening of an empty carry-on bag and wrestling with these questions can be a nightmare. Let these five essentials help you decide what can and cannot be left in your other bags.
1. Important documents and papers
The most important content of your carry-on is the documents that you need for your departure and arrival. This includes your boarding pass, passport, identification, visa – anything that you will need on hand in the airports. This also includes the customs slip that the attendants pass out before touch down, so make sure you include multiple pens as well. A pocket-sized notepad is never a bad idea either.
2. Things to make the flight more comfortable
On flights, you often sit around and among strangers. Will they be loudly snoring men or crying babies? You won’t know until you’re strapped in. Essentials for comfort include a variety of items like neck pillows (they make blow-up ones for easy storage!), eye masks, ear plugs, and a sweater, blanket scarf or other layer for those chilly flights. I also recommend gum or mints and chapstick and lotion to save you from planes’ infamous drying conditions. Additionally, pack an empty reusable water bottle and fill it after going through security to stay hydrated and fight off potential jet-lag. Optional easy to pack snacks like almonds, granola bars, and fruit snacks are always a plus; just be sure to avoid anything that could be considered a liquid or gel!
3. ‘Just in case’ items to save you in unexpected situations
Sometimes, things don’t always go the way that we plan them. Make sure to be prepared with a few items like a change of clothes, packet of baby wipes or deodorizing wipes, motion sickness pills and a plastic bag. Accidents happen, people.
4. In-flight entertainment
While some airlines offer movies or entertainment systems, don’t rely just on them. Airlines usually pass out earbuds, but it is always better to bring your own in your carry-on. In addition to this, pack your electronics in your carry-on, especially if you will be using them during the flight. Laptops, iPads and phones are all included in that list. A phone or laptop charger can go a long way as well now that most airlines have USB plugs. This helps you be fully charged and ready to go when you land! Books and kindles are also good ideas to keep you entertained on long flights, but don’t bring your whole library!
5. Things you just cannot afford to lose or misplace
This section coincides with the important documents and includes other items you cannot afford to misplace. Your wallet, with a few sources of money in it, is essential in your carry-on and should never be left in your checked luggage. The only exception is to leave some money in a secure yet obscure place in your checked bag for the sole purpose of spreading your cash out. All important medications, especially ones that would be a hassle to find or refill in a different country or need to be taken at a particular time, should be with you as well. I recommend a trusty pair of shades for arrival to hide tired, red eyes and help you look effortlessly cool walking out of the terminal.