Carry On Luggage and What to Pack

Does the featured photo look familiar?  Well, that’s how I traveled a few years ago.  I thought I needed everything, but I realized I hardly used half of what I brought with me. Traveling with only a carry on suitcase saves me time and money.  It makes our life so much simpler.  First, we don’t have to worry about our luggage getting lost or damaged.  We don’t have the stress of waiting to check them in at the check in counter.  Or waiting at the baggage claim for it to arrive.  Sometimes worried it won’t arrive or in one piece.  We’ve even been stuck in long lines and worried someone would walk away with it before we got there.

Many airlines now charge extra to have a checked in bag.  I’ve seen prices of 35 Euros for one leg of the trip and for return, that’s extra 70 Euros.  If your like us, we are looking for the cheapest flight we can find, so we’ve learned to pack as light as possible to allow us to travel more often.

What are some of the items we pack in our Carry On? This also depends on where we are going of course and for how long, but in general, it’s nice to have a list so you don’t forget items.

  • First and most important is our ID’s, Passports and Money.  It sounds logical, but should be mentioned.  I usually carry this in my purse which is also allowed as carry on.  I put a smaller day purse in my bigger purse as it’s handy to carry around when your sightseeing.
  • Electronics: Such as your laptop, iPad, telephone and/or Camera.  I have music and movies on mine that I can watch or listen to during flights.  I also carry headphones with me and a small portable speaker so I can listen to music in my hotel room.
  • Chargers for the electronics above and a International Adapter if going to a country that has a different voltage required.
  • If your bringing an extra camera, you may require extra batteries.
  • Books/Travel Guide: The Travel guide I bring, also has maps in it, but I also have Offline maps on my iPad which sometimes works better than my TomTom and doesn’t require Wi-Fi.
  • Toiletries Bag: Make sure your liquids (100 ml/3.9 oz) are put in a plastic bottle and then a Ziploc baggie.  These need to go separate through the security Checkpoint.  (Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, Deodorant, Makeup,  hairbrush, Hairband or Bandana) and portable mirror.
  • Portable Umbrella when traveling to a country that rains a lot.  (I won’t mention any so I don’t offend anyone).
  • Small portable cooler that can fold up.  We use this so often when we go to the beach or exploring the area.  We can hold 6 cans of drinks that stay cold and saves us from having to sit at a café and pay higher costs.
  • We also pack some snacks like fruit bars, bag of chips or sandwiches for the flight.  This also saves on high prices at the airport or on the plane.  One airline charged 35 Euros per flight, for a return flight, that’s 70 Euros per person.
  • Empty water bottle: You can go through security with it and it can also be used later to fill it up.  Another thing you can use it for is to put it at the bottom of your door.  If someone tries to come in when your sleeping, it will make a crack and you can hear it.
  • Tissues (Travel Size) you can also use as Toilet paper if needed.
  • Sunscreen if going to a beach or ski trip, Bug repellent (make sure it contains DEET) and Insect Bite ointment (can relieve pain, itching and swelling.
  • Basic First Aid kit: First determine where your going.  Some countries you may need anti-malaria pills.  Think about the medicines you may need like Birth Control pills, Urinary Track Infections, Motion Sickness pills, Allergy medicine, Diarrhea pills, Anti-Bacterial cream, Heartburn pills like Tums or Rennie’s, or Pepto Bismol (the foods you eat may upset your stomach.  I also carry Ibuprofen for pain relief.  You don’t want to try and find medicine  in a country where you can’t communicate or understand what it says.  It’s also a good idea is to have some Band-Aids, tweezers, anti-itch cream and mini-scissors.   Choose tablets over gels and liquids, sachets over tubes.  You can also ask your doctor for sample sizes.  Take some tablets out of bigger boxes, put a rubber band on it and take only what you need.
  • Travel pillow, eye mask, and scarf, which can be used as a blanket, towel or wrap/skirt.
  • Laundry soap or sheets (in case you need to watch some undergarments)
  • Rope (can use for multiple things, like a clothes line), safety pins (used for many things), duct tape (also multiple uses) and rubber bands
  • Gum (handy on the plane for relieving air compression in ears)
  • Razor for shaving
  • Foldable jacket (I have one that folds up in a bag, very compact)
  • Shoes (sandals or flip flops for beach), comfortable sneakers and boots for hiking.  Don’t bring a pair of shoes that can only be used for one outfit as the space needed is limited
  • Selfie stick (very handy for taking photos of yourself and friends)
  • Sunglasses ( I usually never leave home without them)
  • Lock (you can put on your suitcase when you go out for the day), and don’t need to pay for a safe
  • Coffee sticks or tea bags (I also have a small portable water heater if the hotel room doesn’t have one).  I certainly need my coffee in the morning.  We use Nescafe 3 in 1 (milk and sugar included)
  • Journal or Notepad: I carry a small one so I can jot down notes for where I’ve been, names of Restaurant’s that I want to write reviews on and towns so I don’t forget later.
  • A Flashlight is also handy.  Helps when your in a dark room (hostel) or walking in a dark place.
  • As mentioned earlier, I have offline maps on my iPad, but also have Skype if we want to talk with family.  And we have a translator also installed if we need to communicate in the in the countries language.  Once I couldn’t find the work for cream in my coffee and they also didn’t understand me.  I’m sure if someone was watching me, they would have been laughing at me.
Many people feel overwhelmed and stressed with packing for a trip.  Be prepared and follow the suggestions above and you’ll be more relaxed before going.  I usually am packed the day before and only need to add a few things.
Another suggestion is to be prepared before you go through security.  Have your Ziploc baggie with liquids out to put in the tray. Have your laptop or iPad out (they also go separate from your luggage.  Remove your belt and watch. And keys or coins in your pocket.  I usually have these also ready prior to getting in line.  Some airports also require you to remove your shoes, so you might want to have socks on in case. You don’t want to walk barefoot.
On some occasions, the airplane may have too much luggage in the overhead and will ask you to put your carry on in the cargo area.  They won’t charge for this and you don’t have to agree. Usually my husband keeps his with him, but I have done this.  Make sure your luggage is identifiable.  It may seem not necessary, but if it gets lost, you don’t want to say, “It’s the black one”, most travelers have black suitcases.  We have put stickers on ours, some fall off, but most stay on.  We also have unique tags on ours which can also be handmade.
If you have any other suggestions or comments, I’d love to hear them.  This information has come from years of traveling and experience that works for us and hopefully for you.

Happy Traveling 🙂

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