You've purchased tickets for your next big trip, and the time has come to finally start packing. Everyone out there who's been on at least one flight knows how stressful it can be to get everything arranged and configured so that you bring everything you need in a suitcase, carry-on, and personal item. The truth is that airlines make it really easy to understand how to pack a bag. However, extra rules, bans on certain products, and limits on what you can and can't travel with without being charged an additional fee make this straightforward system...well, not very straightforward. Especially when it comes to carry-on luggage. Here's a quick list of things that you can do to make sure that your carry-on baggage is both efficient and travel-ready.
Choose the Right Bag
It all starts with the bag, so be sure that the one you want to travel with is the right one. It, of course, has to be the right dimensions, but look inside and see how many compartments it has; if it's lightweight and if it's comfortable to carry. Don't buy a bag that's awkwardly shaped or you could be forced to check it Bags with more compartments are great because you can fit more into them and everything stays organized.
Weigh & Measure Your Bag
Airlines won't allow you to board the plane with an awkwardly shaped, over-sized or overweight carry-on. You'll be storing your carry-on overhead in the compartment above your seat, and anything that does not fit or is hard to lift into the compartment will be taken and checked. Once you've packed your bag, go ahead and weigh and measure it so you can avoid having to throw your bag down below or pay extra baggage fees.
Review Rules on Restricted Items
Regardless of if you are traveling on a domestic or international flight, there are restrictions on individual items and sizes of others when it comes to packing a carry-on. Some items are only allowed in checked baggage while others are permitted in smaller (usually 125 ml.) bottles in your carry-on. There are other items still that will be confiscated at the gate if they're in the wrong size of container or banned from being carried on the plane altogether. All airlines have huge quick-reference lists that can help you figure out what should be packed where or if you should limit how much you bring.
When you finally get around to the packing part, try to be as practical as possible. You should allow space for essentials that can be of help if your checked bag erroneously ends up on the other side of the country. In addition to little bottles of hygiene products, items you can't fit in your big bag and anything else that's going to be useful to you like a book or finger toothbrushes. If you don't see yourself using something more than once during a seven-day trip, don't bring it. Instead, use that space for something you are going to put to good use. You can pull off miracles and live out of one bag and a carry-on for seven days if you pack smart, and it begins with being practical in your packing.
If it Goes Below
Sometimes it doesn't matter how much you fuss over your carry-on and it gets forced down below. It could be that the stewardess feels it isn't fitting correctly or perhaps they need the room for something else. If that's the case, they will not hesitate to ask people to have their carry-on luggage taken down below into the cargo hold of the plane. Try to remember this when packing your carry-on and try to be sure that anything important stays in your personal item (purse or messenger/laptop bag).
Plus Personal Item
Yes, everyone is entitled to a personal item in addition to their checked bag and carry-on. A lot of people use their purse or a laptop bag as a personal item, but a small messenger bag works too. This is where all the important must-haves like jewelry, medication, travel documents, your wallet, keys and other essentials go. Your tablet, smartphone or laptop should also fit in here so they have zero chance of getting damaged or sent to the underbelly of the plane. Now that you have a basic understanding of how to approach packing a carry-on bag you'll have an easier time packing one –hopefully with practical contents. Again, be sure to check the rules your airline has in place when it comes to luggage to avoid any unforeseen mix-ups or snafus at the gate.