Packing. It’s probably the most stressful part of a vacation. With our trip coming up this weekend, it’s all I’ve been focused on. The most difficult part for me is trying to plan ahead, possibly without ever having been in the destination, what to wear every day (as it is I can barely pick an outfit when I’m standing in the middle of my walk in closet). You also have to trust that the weather forecast you based your packing on won’t change from the time you looked it up to the time you actually get to where you’re going (considering weather reports are only right 50 percent of the time, you realistically end up packing for multiple alternatives). And lastly, you face the daunting challenge of fittting your clothes, shoes and accessories into one suitcase that’s less than 50 pounds to avoid hefty overweight charges (no pun intended) before you can even buy a single souvenir.
Typically, your large suitcase is where you spend most of your packing energy, with only last-minute efforts given to your carry-on. However, that last-minute thought can mean forgetting carry-on essentials. While traveling, your large suitcase is living the life, being transported by airport personnel from one terminal to the next, on and off conveyor belts. And what is the only piece of baggage sustaining you throughout? That carry-on you barely paid attention to. Here are seven essentials you should not forget to pack in your carry on.
1. USB Portable Charger & Multi-Plug Adapter
Traveling can be pretty unpredictable sometimes. No matter how early you get to the airport, factors out of your control such as weather delays, mechanical issues and gate traffic can really throw a wrench in your plans. Having a portable charger and universal adapter means your electronic devices can survive, even when your carefully crafted travel plans don’t.
2. Passport and Important Docs
Not only do you want to ensure these have a safe place in a travel wallet or document holder, but you also want to make some mini copies just in case they get lost. Your travel documents are vital for entry into other countries. Plus having your passport/information on you, means you’ll be able to prove you’re visiting from overseas. If you’re planning on shopping abroad this is important, as many stores will give you VAT receipts so you can get the tax refund on purchases made. Keep a photocopy of your passport at the hotel and one on you at all times just in case.
3. Make Up & Vital Toiletries
For all the women out there, you know how difficult it is to find the perfect products for your hair and skin. Your daily medications and preventative pills for headaches, alergies, etc should also be included. Even if you’re going somewhere commercialized, I don’t recommend taking a chance on whether or not you’ll be able to buy your nightly face cream or Benadryl for a possible allergic reaction once you get to your destination. Don’t forget that all liquids (including lotions and hair products) must be under three ounces if flying. Though some companies have gotten smart (like my favorite rollerball perfumes), not all products have a travel sized replica of your faves, so be sure to think ahead and buy your own small travel containers. These can be found at places like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond for less than $1 each. Transfering products into these containers gives you the option to make an airport-security-proof travel kit tailored to you.
4. Change of Clothes
I’m the first to admit I don’t always do this, but if you’re traveling somewhere for an important occasion or on a trip that includes a tight, multi-city schedule, you should always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. This will leave you well prepared in case of unexpected overnight delays or heaven-forbid a lost luggage situation.
5. A Really Good Soft Cover Book
I say soft cover just because it’s easier to pack, lighter and cheaper than hardcover. I recommend a physical book rather than an e-reader since it doesn’t add to your list of things that need charging and can also be left behind at the hotel, a coffee shop, or in the airport once you’ve finished. No need to lug around an extra item if you can avoid it.
6. Eye Mask & Noise-Canceling Headphones
If you’re traveling on an overnight or long-distance flight in coach, you’ll definitely want these two items handy. The flight is the perfect time to get your rest so you’re ready to hit the ground running once you touch down. No one wants to start their trip exhausted after being kept awake by a person reading with the light on over your face or a child behind you crying the whole way.
7. Hand Sanitizer/Wipes
Let’s face it, any mode of travel, even your own car, is germ-y. How many people have sat in your seat, eaten off your tray table, buckled the seat belt, changed the channel or turned on the light before it was your seat assignment? Hand sanitizer and wipes will ensure you stay healthy throughout your trip, so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
No matter where you’re headed, these seven essential carry-on items should be packed with care and attention. What else do you pack in your carry-on that you couldn’t imagine traveling without?