The Art of Packing (2): Take Care of Your Carry-On

This is the second installment in a series on packing. Click here to see #1.

You’ve been looking at your to do list for too long. Your eyes have glazed over, your laundry is tumbling through the dryer, and you’ve lost at least an hour on Facebook. Stop avoiding your suitcase! Start small – figure out what you’re taking in your carry-on.

packing a full suitcase

photo courtesy of lighthousepasco

Everyone gets a carry-on. For women, this may seem like a no-brainer because you carry a purse. Be careful! Some airlines are strict on what qualifies as a carry-on, or a personal item. What’s a personal item? United Airlines says it can include (but is not limited to) a camera, an umbrella, an overcoat, or a pet carrier. Side note … don’t take Fido abroad. The best thing you can do is be sure that you understand YOUR airline requirements, as not all airlines are the same.

liquids and gels travel size

photo courtesy of United Airlines

Watch out for those liquids! Airport security will enforce the 3 ounce, 1 bag rule for all carry-on luggage. This means no liquids or gels over the 3 ounce limit, and all packed into a quart-sized Ziploc bag. When you go through the security line, do yourself a favor and remove your bag, for easy review by security.

Yes, you can take larger sized liquids in your checked baggage, but please consider this quote from our buddy Rick Steves:

“Think in terms of what you can do without—not what will be handy on your trip. The world’s getting really small: you can buy Dial soap, Colgate toothpaste, Tampax, Nivea cream, and Bic razors in Sicily. And if you can’t find one of your essentials, ask yourself how 300 million Europeans can live without it.”

Thanks to our own travel experiences abroad, we’ve developed a quick list of things we will always include in a carry-on bag. We think in terms of being parted with our checked bags, or stranded in an airport for the long haul .. what could we (should we) not be left without? What would you add?
– Contact solution, contact case and glasses.
– Toothbrush, toothpaste
– Deodorant
– Hair brush, comb
– Set of warm socks or slippers for the plane
– Pashmina or scarf to use as a blanket
– Something to read
– Note paper and pen
– Chapstick, hand lotion
– Nail file
– Plastic bag
– Change of clothes
– Safety pins or duct tape
– Laptop or tablet *

*this is up for discussion, depending on your destination, weight of the object and what your airline thinks is a “personal item” Gone for a semester? We say, take it. Don’t put your expensive laptop in a checked bag! 


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