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For just about every airline, travelers flying with carry-on luggage has become a normal routine. In fact, it may be difficult for many of us to imagine sitting on a plane without having a bag stored above our heads or below our seats filled with gadgets and snacks. Add to that the risk of the airline losing your checked bags, packing a carry-on becomes a no-brainer.
Picking the Perfect Carry-On Bag
But how do you know where to start with your carry-on luggage?
The first step, often overlooked by most travelers, is to pick the perfect bag. The best type of carry-on bag will comply with the airline’s regulations so it’s important that you research the specific carry-on restrictions and carry-on allowances for the particular airline you are flying. As a general rule of thumb, many experienced travelers say that 22" x 14" x 9" is a good choice for domestic travel within the US and if you're flying internationally, a bag that stands at 21 inches is a good choice as it will help to prevent any problems when boarding.
You may want a stylish carry-on bag, but remember comfort, durability, and easy access are also important. We recommend looking at a few different types of carry-on luggage to see what best suits your needs. Some of our personal favorites are:
- Luggage with spinner wheels (Your standard piece of small luggage.)
- Hard shell carry-on luggage
- Carry-on backpack with wheels
- Travel daypack
- Carry-on suitcases
It’s also helpful to test your carry-on bag before your trip to see if it will be the best bag for your specific travel needs. It’s important to become familiar with all of the pockets and other features. You could pack it full and wheel it around to see if it can be handled easily. Picking it up and lifting it over your head can act like a quick test to see what it will be like when you’re putting the bag in the overhead bin. Once you’ve settled on the perfect bag, it’s time to start packing.
What to Pack in Your Carry-On
So what should be included in your carry-on bag?
The perfectly packed carry-on bag takes a bit of thought so it is helpful to make a list. Whether you’re packing a duffel bag, wheeled bag, or a backpack, it’s what you pack in the bag that really matters. To start, there are a number of absolute must-have travel items that should be included in every traveler’s carry-on bag when flying. Depending on the length of your flight, we highly recommend you include the following:
- Important Documents - this can include your wallet, passport, travel insurance, flight tickets, and any other documents you may want to keep an eye on or have readily available.
- A Travel Organizer - to keep all your travel documents and essentials together.
- A Collapsible Water Bottle with a Filtering System - a long haul flight essential since dehydration can trigger a headache and cabin pressure can cause sinus problems.
- Daily Medications and Prescriptions - a handy Pill Organizer may be helpful.
- A pack of Chewing Gum - helpful for preventing ear aches during takeoff and landing.
- In-Flight Entertainment - a laptop, gaming device, book, e-reader or audiobook librar.y
- A high-capacity Power Bank for charging iphones, smartphones, iPads, laptops, etc. - No matter how good your smartphone, laptop, or iPad’s battery life is, don’t assume it’s going to have enough life to get you through the flight and to your hotel. Keep your Power Bank with you in case one of your electronic devices needs a boost.
- Any Valuables - such as camera, jewelry, and other expensive items.
- Hand Sanitizer - airplanes can be dirty so it is to practice good hygiene to avoid getting sick.
- A Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Facial Wipes - good for long haul flights.
- Travel Hair Brush and Round Travel Compact that includes a small mirror - great for making sure you’re ready to step off the plane and jump right into your day.
- Small Beauty-Bag for Cosmetics - whether or not you use make-up its always handy to have a small pouch for essentials.
- Headphones - airline headphones are usually poor quality.
- A Sleep Kit - eye masks, ear plugs, and a stick of lip balm are an absolute must for long haul flights.
- A Pen and Paper - you never know when you need to take a quick note.
- Your Favorite Snacks - Ideally ones that quite and have little to no odor.
Benefits of Traveling with a Carry-On
A carry-on bag is much easier to handle and saves you from paying luggage check-in fees. The best carry-on bag should be both stylish and practical, able to fit everything you need for your flight. Soft-sided bags tend to hold up better in the face of wear and tear, though hard-shell bags are now being made with more durable materials and aesthetically pleasing designs. If you're a skilled packer and can pack quite a bit into a small space, this is a valuable advantage as you normally will not have to worry about weight limits as you would with a checked bag.
When packing your carry-on bag, the objective should be to ensure an easy and pleasant airport experience where you have no issues with security and you have everything you need for the flight. With the must-have travel items listed above, you’ll be prepared for any delay, red eye flights, boredom, noisy passengers, or anything else that might come up during your travels. A properly packed carry-on bag will help to make your trip much more comfortable and enjoyable. It goes without saying, the items that you take on board in your carry-on bag can make all the difference in your flying experience.