Mastering the Carry-On
With increased costs for checked bags, more and more people are interested in just packing a carry-on. Mastering the carry-on is a useful skill that will save you some money, and make you a more efficient traveler.
There are some situations where obviously a checked bag is required, such as if you are doing a very long trip or are doing a specific activity that requires a lot of gear. For instance, we went on a mountain biking trip and had to bring some gear and our sleeping bags which had to go into a checked bag.
Carry-ons are incredibly convenient because you can access whatever you need from inside the plane, as opposed to forgetting something in your checked-bag and not having access to it until you are in your final destination (headache medication anyone?). Checked bags also run the risk of getting lost, so it is of some comfort knowing your stuff is within reach.
But how do you get everything into your carry-on?
Firstly, you need to get a suitable carry-on. If you have a tiny backpack or laptop case, then you aren’t going to be able to maximize what you can bring on the plane. Usually most airlines have maximum carry-on dimensions that they will accept, either displayed before check-in or on their website. Finding out the maximum accepted size of bag you can carry on will help you when you are looking to purchase one.
Another product that I think would be useful for mastering your carry-on is having a compression travel bag for your clothes. These bags are helpful for squishing your clothes down to the smallest possible size without having to use a vacuum. Clothes take up most of the space in our bags so having them squished down provides room for other items.
Having all your liquids and lotions on top makes it easier and quicker to get through security at the airport. If they ask to see it, you can easily access it from the top without having to dig through your bag to find it.
It is also useful to have any aspirin, gravol, or any other medication in a top pocket for easy access while on the plane. This also goes for headphones, eye masks, phone chargers and face wipes. Having all this stuff in one pocket on the front or at the top of the carry-on makes it easier for you to grab in case you need anything during the flight. I usually try to take everything I need out ahead of time and have it on my person, but sometimes there is an item that I forgot to grab, so having easy access to it is handy and usually leads to a more comfortable flight.
It is also important to keep any important travel documentation on your person or in your carry-on. This includes your passport, tickets, receipts for accommodation, copies of travel documents etc. Make sure these are all easily accessible to you so that when you are required to show someone something you can do it efficiently. We always print out a copy of everything, including receipts for tours, passports, tickets for events, itineraries, etc. in case we are asked to show them.
Valuables should be kept in your carry-on. While checked bags are fairly secure, there is the possibly the airline will lose them, and so to avoid losing valuables such as your camera, tablet, jewelry etc. I would recommend keeping them in your carry-on. Just make sure you don’t take them out then forget them on the seat as you exit the plane (I have almost done this with my camera)…
Bring something to keep you occupied. Whether it be a book, your phone, a tablet or something else, bringing something that would help
Something to keep in mind while packing your carry-on is that with the increase in prices for checked bags, more and more people are choosing to take carry-on bags. This is causing problems because of limited space in the airplanes. Because of this the airline may offer free checked bags right before they start boarding people for those who have large carry-ons. If this is something you are willing to do, I recommend doing it. They will put a slip on your bag and give you the other slip, then they will put your bag under the plane to create more room for other carry-ons. So if there is nothing absolutely necessary in your carry-on, then I would consider this option, because you are still saving money, and you will have access to your bag immediately once you step off the plane.