Travel days requires putting all the worldly possessions you need access to in one bag and (if you are lucky) one that does not create a pain in your neck (literally). The conflict of weight vs. inconveniently missing items is scarily similar to a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. So with a few years of trial and error under my belt here are my recommendations for what goes in and and what stays out of the carry-on bag.
Include in Your Bag
- Electronics: We all juggle our connectivity and productivity across the multiple devices of phone, tablet, and computer. And depending on the purpose of your trip you may need one or all of them. But heavens they are heavy, so think about what you will really use on a trip. I used to travel with all my devices but got tired of lugging around what could double as a gym weight. So as much as possible I try to travel with only my iPad or laptop depending on the trip.
- Wallet and Identification: Yeah, so you are not getting on the plane without identification. But believe it or not…I have forgotten my wallet…more than once. And it isn’t fun. So definitely checklist worthy.
- Beauty Supplies: A small bag of beauty pick-me-ups that are needed for a quick refresh. My bag includes: Hand cream, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, beauty blotters, and pressed powder.
- Portable Charger: A lightweight charger to give a phone or tablet a second wind is a good investment for preventing moments of panic over a dying phone.
- Phone charging cord: These days most airports and planes have USB chargers and they are lightweight it is a no-brained to throw one in.
- Reusable water bottle: Buying water in the airport is super expensive (not to mention horrible for the environment) and most airports are really great about having bottle refill stations. I love this Platypus flat water bottle my sister put in my stocking last Christmas because it takes up absolutely no space in your bag when it is empty.
- Snacks: Throw in your preferred munchie as a much better alternative to airport or airplane snacks. Granola or baggies of cereal make easy snacks to put in a bag.
- Headphones/Earbuds: It definitely stinks to be stuck on a plane having to listing to chatter around you or without a way to prevent boredom during take off or landing. So headphones is one I definitely try to double or triple check that I have.
- Travel Wrap/Blanket: Temperature is a finicky thing in airports and airplanes and shivering your way through a flight is no one’s definition of fun. Plus, it can help on longer flights for making you feel more comfortable and cozy in your seat. My fav travel wrap comes from Mur Sea and they have several different styles to choose from.
- Business/Contact Cards: You never know when you are going to sit next to a super cool person that you want to exchange contact information with so make sure your cards are within easy reach.
- Other (As Needed) Items: Not every flight requires these items, but did not want them to be overlooked just in case!
- Book: If you are like me and just can’t get into the e-readers you might want to throw in a book. But personally I rarely take a book on a flight with me simply because of weight and size and other electronic entertainment options that are available.
- Notebook and pencil case: for jotting notes when those fabulous ideas spring into your head and you need a quick place to jot them down before you forget
- Glasses/Sunglasses: Throw in as required and needed!
- Medications/Jewelry: Anything that you want to make sure arrives at your destination with you should go in your carry on, not checked luggage.
- Pillow Ear Plugs, Sleep Mask, Cozy Socks: Everyone is a bit terrified of sleeping on a plane and what crazy thing you might do (or at least pretty sure I am not the only one with this terrorizing thought.) But sometimes it’s unavoidable for longer or red-eye flights so these might make you feel a bit more comfy.
- On the Move Shoes: If you are going straight from the plane to a work meeting racing through the airport in heels can be painful. So slip a pair of flats or flip-flops in your bag so you can easily switch them around.
Consider Putting in Checked Luggage (or carry-on suitcase):
- Computer power supplies are large, awkwardly shaped, and often add unnecessary weight. Unless you will be on a long flight, using your laptop and the battery will not last, this is one item you can put in your suitcase.
- Books that you are not going to read while on the plane
- Electronic devices you are not going to use (only in a carry-on suitcase)
- Charge all your electronics a few hours before leaving home plug in all your electronics and get them fully charged.
- Make sure you have downloaded your preferred entertainment to your devices. Whether it’s an Audible book, latest edition of a fav podcast, or a TV show do so before leaving home since airport connections can be slow or unreliable.
- Tip: Many airlines now have apps for the in flight entertainment so check the app store for your airline and download before hopping on the plane.
- Keeping your electronics with you probably goes without saying, but checking them in luggage is not a good idea of multiple reasons. So keep them with you but only travel with the devices you really need.
- If you are going old-school (and that is totally cool) with a paper boarding pass take a pic of your boarding pass just in case it gets lost along the way to the gate. It happens more than you might think and it helps with getting a reprint at the gate.
So there you go! My items I just can’t live without for the duration of a flight. And if any of my fellow travelers have any other items or tips & tricks would love for you to share them with me!
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