Carry-On – 10 Smart Things to Pack in a Carry-On Bag

Carry-On - Airplane at SunsetMy husband and I have been traveling for many years and have learned a lot of things about flying, and packing for flights. Some of the things we have learned through our own experience (good and bad).  We have also learned by listening to other travelers’ horror stories. While we can’t do anything about airlines delays or issues, we can at least try to be prepared. This all starts with making sure you pack a small carry-on bag, even if it is for a short non-stop flight.

Carry-On - Boarding PassThe most important thing is to make sure you have these with you in a small carry-on bag is your ID, passport, money, wallet,  and tickets/boarding passes. This is even more important if you are flying internationally. Can you imagine landing in a foreign country and not having your passport or ID? My husband had his wallet stolen one time in Cancun, so now I also carry a printed copy of our passports,  as well as emailing myself a copy. I also carry an extra passport-size photo just in case we need to get a new passport. At least I don’t have to hunt down a place to take a new photo and at what cost. It never hurts to be prepared.

Carry-On - PassportAnother extremely imperative item to have in your carry-on is your daily medication. We usually bring all the bottles we will need just in case. If you don’t want to do that, I suggest at least taking a picture of the medication bottle(s) before you leave in case you need to visit a doctor while traveling. Gene is diabetic so it is way more important than forgetting vitamins, etc. You never know when this information may come in handy.

Carry-On - MedicineI use to always bring a change of clothes on flights that left later in the afternoon and had a connection, again just in case. However, an American Airlines flight from Newark-Dallas-Denver took us over 24 hours and we were stuck in Dallas overnight with no bags, no toiletries, and no apologies. Here is a link to my post (it’s on my old blog, but still relevant) – Our Horrible Experience as First Class Passengers – and why I will never fly American again if at all possible. Anyway, I digress. A 5-hour delay in Newark made us miss the last connecting flight to Denver and we were stuck. I learned right then to take a change of clothes with us, no matter how short the flight was or what time of day. You never know. There were two flights out of Dallas after the one we were supposed to be on and didn’t make either of those. I thought we had plenty of time in case we missed a flight or it was delayed. It was a pain and I learned my lesson quickly, lol.

Carry-On - ClothesAlong the same lines as the extra clothes, it is always a good idea to bring a brush, comb, and a few toiletries in case you do get stuck. At least you can brush your hair and teeth and feel a little bit better. I didn’t have my hairbrush on the above trip and had to use Gene’s hat on the way home 🙁

Carry-On - Hairbrush I am not a big fan of TSA (as you may have guessed) and don’t trust them, therefore I will never check electronics or anything that they might want to get their grubby little hands on.  While I always hear that they value their job and wouldn’t steal, it’s not a risk I am willing to take. Take my advice, never never never pack these in a checked bag, always pack them in a carry-on bag.

Carry-On - KindleSpeaking of electronics, I love to read Kindle books on my tablet while flying and waiting at the terminal. These are also very helpful during those times when your flight is delayed. If you don’t read on a kindle, make sure to bring magazines, newspapers, puzzles, games. Just bring something to help keep yourself entertained. It will make the waiting less miserable.

Carry-On - PretzelsSnacks are also a great thing to pack in your carry-on, especially if you are delayed. Sadly, most US carriers don’t provide snacks anymore. Thus if you are delayed, then stuck on the plane, it could be a long flight. I always carry fruit bars or granola bars. They hold up pretty well and are quite filling. I also enjoy pretzels.

Carry-On - BlanketI don’t usually get too cold but now and then I will get really cold on a plane. If you are on a longer trip the carrier may provide pillows and blankets. However, you never know, so  I don’t want to count on it. I have a small pillow kit that comes with a blanket and an inflatable balloon for the pillow. It is small and fits easily in my carry-on bag. I have used it a few times and am glad I picked it up.

Carry-On LuggageAnother thing I always have is a copy of my flight itinerary, car reservations, hotel reservations, hotel address, and directions to the hotel in case the GPS isn’t working or is wrong. I do have a couple of travel documents that I have created and will be happy to send to you. My way of saying thank you for signing up to receive weekly post updates (the link is below). They are great for keeping some of this information together all in one place. Hope this post helps you prepare and pack your carry-on bag on your next flight. Feel free to post any comments or thoughts below. Would love to hear from you. Happy travels!


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10 thoughts on “Carry-On – 10 Smart Things to Pack in a Carry-On Bag

    1. Thank you for stopping by and dropping a comment. I look forward to your upcoming post. Feel free to drop the url/link when it is finished. Thanks again. 🙂

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your terrible experience with American Airlines. Over the years, I’ve probably flown on them the most, since, at one time, they were among the few airlines going to the Caribbean Islands.

    As a frequent traveler myself, I carry most of those things you suggested in my carry-on bag. Thanks for putting this list together.

  2. I ALWAYS travel with my noise-canceling headphones and some music. Add to that, my eBook reader so I have plenty of good books to read, depending on what mood I find myself in.

    Thanks for the items on the list!

    1. Awe yeah, great suggestion Paul. I usually read and tune everything out, but that might be a lifesaver for some people. Thank you for the suggestion and the comment. Appreciate it.

  3. Very smart suggestions!! Especially the clothes. One time I missed a flight but my clothes didn’t. You never forget those kinds of things.

    1. Hey there Jeanine, no you don’t forget those things 🙁 I hope to never be stuck like that again, but if we do, I will be better prepared to deal with it. Thanks for the msg. SOrry that happened to you, but we do learn, right? Thanks for sharing and letting us all know, we are not alone. Happy travels.

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