What Should You Pack In Your Carry-On?

Oct 3, 2000

So you're flying overseas. A long flight of probably 7 hours or longer. How exciting. So what in the world are you supposed to pack?! What belongs in your carry-on? What should you leave at home? Luckily, I've compiled a list of what every overseas traveler should have when flying.

First of all, you need to decide what to put in your carry-on versus putting it in your check-in luggage. Too many people cram the carry-ons full of stuff, or even bring extra carry-ons on board because they think they need all that stuff. Wrong. Keep in mind that almost everyone will have a carry-on... is it fair for you to take up more than your allotted space? Most airlines flying overseas allow 2 carry-ons. This includes a purse/laptop/diaper bag.

A well-packed carry-on should have:

A change of clothes: You may spill something on your blouse, or your luggage may get lost. An extra set of clothes will come in handy when you least expect it. Pack something that isn't bulky, or that won't take up a lot of room.

Medications: This includes basics like Pepto-Bismol and aspirin. Airline food may not agree with you, or the stuffy cabin may cause your head to ache. Also keep any prescription medicines in your carry-on so that in case your luggage is delayed, you'll still be able to take your medicine.

Contact lens case/glasses: Flying makes your body dehydrated, which makes your eyes dry. Keep a bottle of rewetting drops with you if you insist on wearing contacts. Also keep a spare case in case it gets really bad and you want to take your lenses out. If you can, wear your glasses -- your eyes will be much more comfortable.

A Snack: If you are flying on a flight that you know will be full, pack some nuts or other dry food with you in a small bag. Occasionally, the flight can run out of meals, or you may not enjoy what you were served. While many airlines do offer snacks between meals, others don't. At least this way, you won't starve. I always have a couple snack sized packs of peanuts in my carry on, just in case.

Reading material: Bring a book or a magazine. It'll give you something to do during that long flight. Don't bring a newspaper -- you need arm room to spread the paper out, and that can be annoying to your seat mate. A book or magazine is much more quieter and takes less space. If you have a long trip, bring one of each so you can break up the reading monotony.

Toothbrush: Yes, this may sound like a strange thing to have in your carry-on, but it'll make you feel better. Get a small travel/trial size toothpaste too. You can brush your teeth in the lavatory after waking up from a nap, and you'll feel more refreshed. I usually brush my teeth during a stopover and reapply some lipstick. Makes me feel more awake. Some airlines supply toiletries bags upon boarding, so you may not even have to pack one from home. Call and ask.

Don't keep your passport or ticket in your carry-on. Stuff happens, and you never know if someone will accidentally or purposely walk away with your carry-on at the airport when you aren't looking. Always carry your passport and ticket on your body, or in your purse (which you are holding firmly so no one can snatch it). Also, never keep large amounts of money in your carry-on, or expensive jewelry. If you must keep some of these items, don't keep them all in one bag. Don't put aerosol cans like hairspray in your carry-on, as the air pressure could cause the can to explode.

CD players are something that not every airline allows during flights. Some airlines have equipment that can be disturbed by CD players, cell phones or other electronic equipment. When in doubt, call ahead and ask.

Having these items on board with you can make your flight much more comfortable. Just be courteous to your fellow travelers. Nothing makes me more mad than someone who brings 2 huge carry-ons, and pushes other peoples' stuff aside to make room for their own. That's just rude, but people do it anyways. Also, if you choose to keep your carry-on next to you, push it under the seat. Otherwise, it'll be in the way of people in your row, and they may trip over it when getting up or sitting down.

Please be a courteous traveler, and happy flying!

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