With most airlines now charging for checked baggage, going carry-on is more appealing than ever. Plus, carrying on your luggage means no waiting in baggage claim and no risk of lost luggage! With these handy tips, you can easily carry on what you need, even if you’re traveling for a week.
Pick Your Carry-Ons
The standard is one carry-on and one “personal item.” To maximize what you can bring, the personal item can be a laptop bag, backpack or small duffle (that fits under the seat). Women can then put a small purse inside this item rather than using the purse only as the personal carry-on. The personal item carry-on can also hold anything you’ll need within reach during the flight.
For your carry-on suitcase, you can use a duffle or hard or soft-sided roller. Each has its advantages, but the key is that it meets size allotments. Check the airline you’re booking with for exact dimensions (usually around 45 linear inches).
The Packing Plan
Creating a checklist of everything you will need to pack for your trip is a great idea. If you have room (such as a spare bed or dresser), you can also begin setting out the items you’ll be packing ahead of time.
- Check the projected weather forecast for where you’re traveling. This will help you pack the right weight and type of clothes.
- Plan to wear the bulkiest items such as your jacket and boots. Even though you’ll have to take them off to go through security, it will save you valuable space in your suitcase.
- Make sure all of your liquids and gels fit in a one-quart baggie (see TSA requirements). You can purchase travel-sized items or reusable and refillable containers under 3.4 ounces each. If you’ll be staying at a hotel, skip packing items the hotel will be providing. Keep the baggie handy when you go through security, as it must be taken out and placed in the security bin for screening.
- If you’re short on space, pack items that can be worn more than once, such as shoes that are comfortable and go with many outfits, pants that can be worn several times with different shirts, etc. Fill any packed shoes with items such as socks or jewelry. Avoid clothes that wrinkle easily or place them on top. If space is really tight, consider rolling your clothes rather than folding.
Ready to Fly
Once you’re packed, follow these tips for a smooth trip:
- If you’re traveling domestically, you can check on the airline’s website and print out your boarding passes at home or at your hotel.
- Keep your passport or photo ID, boarding pass and any other related paperwork together in a handy and secure place within your carry-on.
- Leave all prescription medications in their original containers. (See USA Today’s “TSA Rules for Carry-on Prescription Drugs.”)
- If you’re traveling internationally, especially more than once in a year, you may want to consider obtaining Global Entry, which makes for easier and quicker clearance through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
With a little preparation, it’s easy to pack light and still have everything you need. Happy travels!