What’s In My Carry-On?

If you’re like me then you wait until relatively last minute to pack before a trip and end up letting it stress you out more than it should. You struggle with keeping your checked bag under 50 pounds and pack and repack, incessantly checking for a weight change. But what most people forget during this last minute stress-pack is that your carry-on is just as important (if not more) as your checked bag. Your carry-on is the bag that’s going to hold all of your important items, from passports to electronics, so it needs to be packed carefully and conveniently with all the essentials…but what are they? Here’s what you need to make sure is in your carry-on before you depart for adventure:

  1. Passport. This is pretty self explanatory, but can be so simple that you simply forget to pack it.
  2. Identification. Birth certificate, license, student ID, this is whatever you need to identify yourself other than your passport.
  3. Other cards. Credit/debit cards, insurance cards, international driving permits, this is anything else you probably keep in your wallet on a regular basis. Whether you just pack your whole wallet or take everything out, make sure all of it makes it into your carry-on in a protected but easily accessible area.
  4. Money. Make sure to exchange your currency if heading for another country, but don’t forget to bring some unchanged cash for the airport or once you get back.
  5. Laptop. Do NOT pack your laptop in your checked bag unless you’re ok with losing a few thousand dollars and probably everything you’ve ever worked on if your luggage gets lost. Don’t forget that you will have to take this out at security, so pack it somewhere that is quickly accessible.
  6. Change of clothes. If you’re going on a long flight, a change of clothes will feel like heaven when you land. Don’t have room for a whole new outfit? At least pack a clean pair of underwear and socks for the plane.
  7. Toothbrush/toothpaste. Purchase a travel-sized tube of toothpaste and pack it in your carry-on with your toothbrush. Brushing your teeth before you land will feel refreshing and having it in your carry-on makes it much more accessible than if it were packed deep in your checked bag.
  8. Make-up. Men, skip ahead to number 9. Women, don’t pack your entire going-out make-up routine, but throw in some face powder, eyeliner and mascara, hit the bathroom, wash your face, and refresh your look. It’ll put you in a better mood.
  9. Gum. Gum to chew during take-off? Yes, please!
  10. Head phones. This is probably the most forgotten object, and it’s easy to see why. They’re small, but you’ll be kicking yourself when you sit down in your seat and realize you have to use those incredibly uncomfortable plane headphones to watch the no-name featured in-flight movie.
  11. Snacks. Keep them light, but bring something to hold you over in the event that you don’t like the plane food. Protein bars usually do the trick.
  12. Entertainment. If you’ve ever travelled via airplane before you know that the in-flight entertainment is usually pretty bad, so be prepared. Bring a book, music on your phone, a tablet, whatever you like to keep you busy. If all else fails, sleep.
  13. Medicine. You don’t need to pack an entire first-aid kit, but throwing in a bottle of Advil never hurt anyone.

Seem like a lot? I get it, and it is, but don’t overestimate the size of these items. I just returned from a trip having fit all that and more into a school-sized backpack. Good luck!

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