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How to Pack your Carry On for Your Next Flight

Carry-on bagSo, you are about to board the plane which has two connections too many. You are confident that you’ll arrive with your bags – or maybe not as confident as you wish you were! So what do you do?

We like to dub it the emergency carry-on kit, the top 10 necessary items to bring with you in case the unexpected happens – whether you are delayed, stranded or even if your bags decide to take a trip of its own.

To be adequately prepared, we recommend the following:

1. Toiletries. Toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, and sanitizer wipes. If you wear contacts – bring glasses and your contact case. These are all very important items so that you feel clean no matter what comes your way. Keep in mind the 3-1-1 rule so you do not run into problems while going through security. Each passenger is allowed a quart size bag to pack as many bottles as they can – just be sure that it can seal properly. Each bottle will, however, need to be 3.4 ounces (100mL) or less in order to be allowed on.

2. Medicine. There is nothing like being sick while stuck in a noisy, bright airport. To help mitigate any problems you run into, we recommend Advil and Rolaids (or some variation) – just in case the airport food takes a turn for the worse or the intercom is beginning to get to you. You may also want to take prescription medication that you take daily just in case you end up without your baggage.

3. Entertainment. You should always have something in your bag for entertainment purposes. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, books, music, or even a deck of cards. A deck of cards can easily be used as a wonderful intro to talk to fellow stranded guests and to keep the minds busy and the conversation interesting.

4. Work/School Materials. There is nothing like coming back from a long delayed flight and feeling that it was a complete waste of time. That is why you should come prepared with something that you can do to feel “productive”. Bring materials that are easily portable but does not require too much focus like a business journal, books to study for on the plane, etc.

5. Snacks. Okay, so while you are in the airport you have access to all types of food. But what if you have already boarded and there is a long wait time on the tarmac? Now of days, food on the plane is scarce – or available for a fee. Do not rely on the peanuts or pretzels because you may find that your airline is saving costs in many areas, including the little bags of snacks that use to get you through your flight. Bring some nuts, granola bars, and other snacks to tide you over along the way including a bottle of water (which you can reuse by filling up the bottle at the water fountain). You may find a stick of gum a helpful addition to deal with the cabin pressure.

6. Insurance. When you’re stuck in transit, it is easy to make an expensive stop-over whether you are paying for a hotel, eating overpriced airport food, or if you have to purchase another ticket to reroute your trip. Or, what if your bags decide to miss your connection and are either delayed or lost? The Liaison Traveler insurance plan is a well suited option that provides coverage for trip interruption, trip delay, missed connection, lost or delayed baggage, etc. By purchasing this international travel insurance before your trip, it will help alleviate the costs if the unexpected happens. A copy of your insurance documents should also come on board with you in case you need to present documentation.

7. Clothes. Okay, so forget the shirt and pants backups. We all know we should take them with us, but really who has space in the tiny carry-on? There are three things that are vital: an extra pair of underwear, socks, and of course, a jacket. We can all agree that underwear and socks should never be worn more than once, and the jacket serves multiple purposes including as a blanket and pillow if necessary.

8. Charger. If you are stranded somewhere, there is nothing worse than having your computer or other gadgets die! Make sure you charge all of your electronics before you leave so that you can delay the hunt for the outlets in the airport. If the trip is longer than anticipated, you’ll have your charger available to make sure your electronics keep up with you.

9. Sleep mask. Bringing your sleep mask will allow you to dim the bright lights of the airport if you have a stay over in the airport. This might even come in handy when you are on the plane and want to get some shut eye.

10. Valuables. Money, jewelry, credit cards, and other valuables should be taken on-board with you. I typically recommend keeping it on your persons so that in case something happens to your carry-on you will have all the important valuables in your possession.

For people moving abroad, read: The Ultimate International Packing List

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