Carry-on bags are always limited on space, and seems to shrink every year. However, here are 12 things you absolutely must carry with you in your carry-on bag. If you don't, and your airline loses your suitcase, it could end in travel disaster.
What to bring in a carry-on bag
- Tickets. This is vital. If you've ever lost a checked bag with your return tickets in it, you'll never again forget to bring them in hand luggage. Goes for any other tickets you'll need while at your destination as well. Don't be one of those people who shout out as the bag goes down the check-in conveyor belt "Stop! My tickets are in there!"
- Your money. Considering how many bags get rifled through every day by baggage handlers, why would you give them a cash bonus? Also, keep your credit cards and travelers checks with you onboard the plane.
- Jewellery. Cheap costumer jewellery can go in the check bag, but keep your expensive items with you. That way it won't get stolen out of your bag or lost. A better idea is to keep the expensive items safe at home.
- Camera gear. Unless you have lots of gear that is professionally packed with Pelican cases to avoid damage, carry it on. Many professionals ship a portion of the gear ahead of their own travel so it is waiting for them when they arrive.
- Camera film. Remember this? Well, the X-ray machines that examine checked luggage will fry photographic film in milliseconds and erase all your beautiful travel photos.
- Perishable food. It's not going to be very appealing once unpacked at your destination... Trust me on this.
- OTC and prescription medication. You'll probably need to take some before you arrive, so keep your meds close. Also, please remember to bring a copy of your prescription. Security gate staff have funny attitudes about random pills in travelers' bags.
- Birth control. You never know what you'll end up doing while waiting for your checked luggage to arrive to the same continent as you.
- ID and passport. Keep your passport, drivers license, insurance cards, VISA papers and so on with you.
- Fragile items. Antiques, glass souvenirs, and expensive trinkets. These are difficult to transport without breaking them yourself - do you trust the baggage handlers/throwers with these?
- Itinerary. Keep a copy of your itinerary with you on the plane. Once your bag goes on a walkabout, you'll need to know where you're going, information to fill out forms, which hotel you're booked into, car rental details, and phone numbers for your location!
- Spare underwear. If it's a really long flight... also bring a toothbrush and some toothpaste, you'll feel much better once you arrive!
- Bonus - Silicone earplugs! On that long haul flight, a pair of Mack's Silicone Swimmers Earplugs will come in very handy. They're great at blocking out the engine sounds, snoring seat mates, and screaming kids...
Find a suitable carry-on bag
All this should easily fit into a standard carry-on bag or backpack. Just make sure it's a small-ish size as regulations tend to shrink whatever you're allowed to carry with you. Find carry-on bags from Amazon.com. I recommend a backpack as a carry-on bag, as it's better for your back. After all, the bag may become somewhat heavy with your necessary items in it. It'll also fit some items that will keep you comfortable while traveling, such as reading material, an MP3 player, and sun glasses. There are some other things I might bring along, but these 12, always.
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