Do's and Don'ts of Carry-On Luggage

Monday, January 9, 2017

Last weekend, I posted a Do’s and Don’t’s list for packing checked luggage for plane travel. Today, I wanted to continue those thoughts with carry-on luggage. This is my personal favorite way to pack, and I can’t recommend it enough to my friends who travel.

But before we get to those do’s and don’ts, let’s answer the question: What is a carry-on bag?

Airlines allow you to carry two bags onto a plane: one carry-on item and one personal item. Your personal item is usually your purse, a backpack, or a tote bag of some kind. Your carry-on item is usually a smaller piece of luggage that fits under specific dimensions to fit in the overhead compartment on planes or under the seat in front of you. When you purchase luggage, the suitcase you buy should fit those specifications, but it’s always a good idea to check your airline’s policies online if you’re unsure. 

All this being said, let’s get to the lists.

  • Consider traveling solely via carry-on luggage. In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons; you may have to lug more bags around, but you eliminate the risk of having your luggage lost or stolen under an airline’s watch, and you don’t have to wait around for baggage claim before you start adventuring.
  • Pack efficiently to save space. Roll your clothes up. Use packing cubes. Store your shoes in separate bags. Pack a laundry bag. Every inch of space you get counts in your carry-on bag.
  • Remember to put ALL of your liquids in quart-sized bags, and have them within easy reach for security. You don’t want to have to waste time standing in line while a TSA officer rummages through your bag looking for the bottle of water you left in your bag by accident.
  • Pack an extra outfit and your toiletries in your carry-on in case of flight delays or cancellations. You don’t want to be stranded in the airport without a change of clothes, or at least your toothbrush. It’s better not to rely on airport general stores for those things, especially if you fly in late at night. (But if you have your luggage all in carry-on bags, this won’t be an issue.)
  • Consider checking your carry-on during your return home, especially if your souvenirs are checked-bag only (don’t let the amazing jam you bought for your mom get confiscated!).

  • Pack things that aren’t allowed in your carry-on, such as aerosols. Again, this will save so much time going through security.
  • Leave your carry-on unattended. One risk that you do run is that your bag could be stolen from under you. Be responsible. Keep an eye on your bags, and take them with you wherever you go, especially if you don’t have a buddy traveling with you, even to airport restaurants (which, thankfully, have ample space for you to keep your bag beside you while you eat).
  • Overpack. This should be a little bit easier to avoid in a carry-on since you have less space, but definitely make sure that you are aware of how much you are packing, especially if you plan on bringing souvenirs back.

Have you ever tried packing entirely by carry-on? Is it something you'd like to do on your next trip? Let me know in the comments! :)

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