What To Pack In Your Carry-On Bag

Packing for travel—especially a long vacation or overseas trip—is an important task. We often fret about arriving at our destination and realizing we left a much-needed item behind. That’s why deciding what should go in your carry-on is particularly important. These are the items you get to have with you at all times, even if your luggage gets lost. That being said, you also have to tote them around to the airport, on the plane, and during any other ground travel to your final destination. You want to strike the perfect balance between having not just enough items, but the right items. Here are 10 things to include when packing your carry-on luggage:

  1. Water Bottle
  2. Nutritious Snack
  3. Important Travel Documents
  4. Valuables
  5. Daily Medications
  6. Change of Clothes
  7. Phone Charger
  8. Entertainment
  9. Toiletries
  10. Napkins or Wipes

Traveling is often a wonderful, eye-opening experience that exposes you to new places, people, events, and other facets of life. You can make your airplane flight itself much more enjoyable by being adequately prepared and packing the right set of essential items into your carry-on bag.

1. Water Bottle

Travel has a way of dehydrating you. You are racing from point to point, flying at high altitudes, and probably heading from one climate to another. You don’t want to be without water. While you can’t carry liquids through security checkpoints, you can take an empty aluminum or plastic water bottle and then fill it at a drinking fountain. Many airports also provide fancier water dispensers designed for filling up bottles.

2. Nutritious Snack

Some airlines still hand out a small snack (think tiny bag of peanuts or pretzels) and a complimentary beverage while you are flying, although even that perk isn’t offered by certain companies. Regardless, airport and airplane food is notoriously expensive, even when purchased from a fast food chain. Rather than paying for overpriced snacks, take along a few satisfying treats of your own, such as nuts, granola bars, beef jerky, a sandwich, or trail mix.

3. Important Travel Documents

This may seem like common knowledge, but it is worth a reminder to keep all important travel documents with you, which means packing them in your carry-on or passport holder. You will want at least one photo ID, potentially your passport, tickets, and information about your hotel or rental car. You want to be able to get all the way from your starting point to your final destination without opening your checked bag.

4. Valuables

Never pack money, jewelry, computers, cameras or other expensive items in your checked bag. Not only will you likely need easy access to your cash or best credit cards, but incidents of luggage theft still occur. If you have made a serious investment into an item, you wouldn’t want it to be stolen out of your bag.

5. Daily Medications

If you have a long day of travel ahead of you or suffer from a chronic or critical condition, you will want your medications handy so you don’t miss a dose. Make sure what you carry is compliant with the TSA medication rules. Having a couple days’ worth is important in the event your luggage gets misdirected or misplaced since it can take several days to find or retrieve it. Also, if you have a serious allergy, you should pack an epinephrine autoinjector, i.e. EpiPen.

6. Change of Clothes

Again, you want to be prepared in case there’s a mishap with your checked bag, so you should take along extra weather-appropriate clothes (don’t forget your underwear). With increasing restrictions on carry-on sizes, you may find you don’t have room for an entire change of clothes, but you can at least pack underwear, and possibly an extra top.

7. Phone Charger

Few things are more frustrating or inconvenient when traveling than having your phone die at one airport or another. You can’t call your ride to let them know you’ve arrived. You can’t look up your rental car reservation or search for directions to your hotel. You can’t keep yourself entertained or alert friends or colleagues if your flight gets delayed several hours. Even if you think you don’t need your charger, remember unexpected things often happen while traveling.

8. Entertainment

You will want some way of entertaining yourself while on the plane, especially since on-flight entertainment often isn’t provided unless you are traveling internationally. You should tend toward an item that is light and compact, such as a tablet or e-book reader, coloring book, crossword puzzle book, magazine, or small music player.

9. Toiletries

Even if you are staying on the continent during your flight, you will want to have a couple of essentials, such as a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and facial wipes. After a long day of traveling, these small items can go a long way toward making you feel refreshed, especially if you have to transition immediately into a business conference or meeting, or even a night on the town.

10. Napkins or Wipes

Especially if you are traveling with young children, you will want some way of cleaning up a mess, wiping dirty hands, blowing your nose, and a myriad of other tasks. Even as an adult individual, accidents can happen or you will find yourself the victim of a mess. In such an event, you will be glad you have wipes readily available to quickly and efficiently tidy up.

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