Back to Basics: 10 Items to ALWAYS Pack in Your Carry On Luggage

Although I check my bags on occasion, I’m very vigilant in not packing certain types of things.  Some things go in your checked luggage, some go in your carry ons, and depending on space, some things can go either way.

It doesn’t seem like I should have to spell this out, but most every day that I fly someone mentions packing one of these items in their checked bagged.  Usually, it doesn’t present a problem, but DON’T PACK THESE ITEMS IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE!

  1. Itinerary.  Keep a copy of your itinerary in your checked bag, but make sure that you have a copy with you as well.  If your bag does go missing, you’ll need to know what reservations you have, confirmation numbers, phone numbers, etc.  I keep my itinerary on my phone and computer as well, but have it on paper as well. 
  2. Ticket.  People actually pack these away, and I want to scream WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?  Take all tickets with you, from plane and rail tickets to admission and concert tickets.  Treat these like cash.
  3. Money.  And while we’re on the subject of cash, why anyone would pack money is beyond me.  This goes for any form of cash, too – credit cards, travelers checks, bearer bonds, whatever!  Keep it with you!
  4. Identification.  You need it to get through security, but make sure that you don’t send any with your checked bags.  If it’s lost or stolen, don’t given anyone additional information that could lead to identity theft.
  5. Jewelry.  A few months ago, I saw a woman with a bag too large to fit in the overhead bin refuse to give up her back to be check because it had all her jewelry in it.  Good move.  But a better move would have been to pack it all in a carry on that would actually fit on the plane.  When she took out all her jewelry there was so much that she had to put it in a large shopping bag.  Think twice about packing that much of the good stuff, even when it’s in your carry on, as you may be making yourself on a target for theft.
  6. Fragile items.  Glassware, antiques, and other expensive goo-gaws should be in your carry ons.  If they’re too large to carry on, you should arrange to have them packed properly and shipped.  But don’t trust their safety to the baggage handlers.
  7. Camera gear.  If you are traveling with a large amount of professional gear, you already know how to pack it for transport.  You may decide to check it, or you may decide to use one of the shipping services that will have it waiting for you at your destination.  For the rest of us, don’t pack your gear or film away.  Why trust your precious memories to someone else.
  8. Perishables.  Food should go with you.  Mayo gone bad or a rotting piece of fruit is going to stink up the joint.  Don’t let it stink up your clothes.
  9. Medication.  This falls within an exception to the 3-1-1 liquid rule (check the TSA website for more details).  If your bags are delayed or lost, you won’t want to be caught without medications that you need.  If you must travel with large amounts of medications, consider shipping them ahead to your destination, or arranging to have prescriptions filled on the road.
  10. Keys.  You’ll want to be able to get into your car or into your house if your bags are delayed.  And you certainly wouldn’t want your house keys falling into the hands of a thief.

The above items are the MUST go in carry on list!

But be sure to save room for some items that will make the flight a little more enjoyable – reading material, a few toiletries, a bathing suit or lightweight change of clothes, iPod, snacks, and games or toys for the kids.

 

Image credit:  SXC

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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