Carry On Essentials List

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Oct 14, 2020
Author: Kimberley

What do I pack for the plane ride?

When it comes to packing for a vacation, I always make a list of what to pack and I compartmentalize it into two lists, one for all the things I’ll need while on vacation, and another for those carry on essentials that I want to have handy for the flight.

When packing your carry on, you must remember to adhere to the TSA guidelines for what is allowed and what is not, so planning ahead is a good idea. Remember that any liquids that you plan to put in your carry on bag must not exceed 3.4 ounces so make sure you buy items in travel size.


1. Your Daily Medications

Packing your medications in your carry-on is important.  If heaven forbid, your flight is delayed or your checked luggage gets lost or stolen, it might be very difficult to get your prescriptions refilled when you are far away from home.  This applies to any over the counter medications that you rely on as well.


2. Your Phone Charger

Even if you have the newest best cell phone with long battery life, you might want to have your phone charger handy.  You can plugin your phone and charge it while waiting in the airport and most planes have USB ports on all the seats too.

If you have your reservation confirmation or directions to your destination in your email, it is important that you will be able to access this information when you disembark from the plane. There is nothing worse than a dead cell phone when you need it.

3. Toiletries

Yes, keeping a small selection of toiletries with you so that you can freshen up while at the airport or before getting to your destination is a smart idea.  After the weeks of anticipation leading up to your trip, you’ll want to arrive fresh and ready.

I personally have a small travel kit that I pack all my toiletries in that are sized for TSA compliance and I don’t have to worry about hunting through my suitcase to get to these. There are many options available, including kits for men too.  These kits are great too, because after first use, you still have the bag and you can simply refill the products with travel sizes from your local store.

If you wear contact lenses, don’t forget to pack your lens case and a small bottle of solution in your carry on as well.


4. Your Valuables

Always keep your valuables like your camera, cell phone, jewelry and laptop with you at all times.  You do not want to take the chance of putting these types of items in your checked bag.  What if your luggage is lost or stolen?  Keep that in mind when packing. But seriously, if you are going on a tropical vacation, may I recommend leaving your laptop at home and unplugging for a while?  :)


Camera - carry on essentials

5.  Your Travel Documents

Your passport, wallet, plane tickets should obviously be packed in your carry on bag.  Another good idea is to print out any directions, reservation confirmations or tickets that you may have pre-purchased and keep a printed copy in your carry on so they are with you at all times, just in case something unanticipated happens to your digital documents. Having a passport wallet where you can keep all of these important things together will help keep you organized.


6.  Warm Weather Clothes

If you are traveling from a colder climate into warmth and sunshine, you should pack a change of clothes specifically for this in your carry on.  When I travelled from cold Canada to Las Vegas one time, the first thing I noticed when I walked out of the airport was the heat hit me like a brick wall.  I felt like I was walking into a sauna.  Being able to quickly jump into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before exiting the airport would have been a good plan if I didn’t have to rummage through my large suitcase.


7.  Entertainment For Your Flight

Flights can be long and all you want to do is get there, especially if this vacation has been in the planning stages for months.  To help pass the time, bring a book or a game to entertain yourself during the flight.  Maybe you can catch up on crossword puzzles or Sudoku challenges.  Most flights do have onboard movies, but I suggest bringing some other form of entertainment, just in case.  This is especially important if you are bringing the kids.

If you are going to bring a book, bring a paperback or an e-reader.  But make sure you have something to do during take off and landing when all of your electronics have to be stowed away.  I prefer to look out the window at these times.


8.  Snacks

Most flights offer complimentary drinks and snacks, but sometimes it is not enough to satisfy your hunger, and the sandwiches and other food offered to purchase on the plane can be expensive and not necessarily delicious.

As long your snack is not liquid, and it is wrapped, it can go through security.  You are allowed to bring fruit and veggies for a snack.  Cutting them up into bite-size pieces and putting them into zip-lock bags is a great idea for easy snacking. If it is cut, it must be wrapped. You can also bring home-made sandwiches, as long as they are wrapped.

Also, something I always pack when I fly is chewing gum.  It helps me to chew gum on the descent when my ears are popping.

Did you know that if you were to bring a carry-on and a backpack, that is not considered two carry-ons?  If your backpack can fit under your seat, it is considered a personal item, like a woman’s purse.  Just a note to keep in mind.

Note:  Keep in mind that the maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage is 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 centimeters x 35 centimeters x 56 centimeters). This includes handles and wheels.

Take a look at our other list of Tropical Vacation Essentials, to help you pack your bigger suitcase with everything you’ll need to make your vacation enjoyable.

Happy Travels!  :)


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