What to Pack and What NOT to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag

By Sonja

When you check a bag at the air port you are always running the risk of having your luggage lost or delayed. This is just one reason it’s important to have all the essentials packed with you in your carry-on bag. before we delve into what to pack, let’s first cover what NOT to pack in your carry-on.

What NOT to Pack in Carry-on Luggage

1. Liquids over 3.4oz or 100ml

Restrictions on a number of liquids has become pretty universal and the standard seems to be a limit at 3.4 oz containers. Any liquid, gel, or airs olé can not be in a container that is over 3.4oz. You can easily purchase travel size shampoos and toilets at most major super markets including Walmart. Another option is to buy empty containers and fill it with your own liquids. All the liquids that you bring must be packed and fit in one quart sized plastic bag.

Many people might not be aware of what qualifies as a liquid. Shampoo is a pretty obvious one but things like toothpaste, mascara, and lip gloss is often forgotten. If you need to pack for a long trip that will require more than 3.4oz than pack larger containers with your checked baggage.

2. Sharp Objects and Weapons

All sharp objects are prohibited in carry-on luggage with the fear that they could be used as a weapon. Some items are difficult to distinguish. For example, would nail clippers be considered a weapon? Nail clippers and nail scissors are generally allowed but they could also be confiscated by the TSA. Other countries might also have different rules than the United States so be sure to check with the country you will be visiting.

Guns are also not allowed in carry-on luggage. However, most guns are allowed in checked luggage but they need to be stored in a hard container with a lock. Always check with your airline as some air lines have different regulations and fees associated with this. If you must bring a gun into a new country be sure to check that country’s gun laws and regulations.

3. Lighters and Flamable Items

Leave all Flammable items at home. if there is something Flammable that you will be needing it is best practice to buy it once you get to your destination. Having Flammable items on the plain is a safety risk to all passages. Flammable items and explosives are not allowed on carry-ons and are also not allowed in checked luggage.

4.Meat and Agricultural Products

If you are traveling to a new country you need to be aware that most country’s do not allow you to bring meats, fruits, veggies, or plants with you. Also, note that if you bring a snack or food with you that falls into these categories you must eat it on the plane and before you pass customs to enter to a new country. Some countries like Australia and New Zealand are even more strict with their policies and prohibit wooden so enters.

This list covers  What items NOT to pack in your carry on due to laws and regulations but there are also items you should avoid brining as a courtesy to other travelers. We all know that air plain food is bad but be cautionary of what food you end up bringing on a plane. Avoide foods that have strong smells as it to be respectful of your fellow travelers. If you end up bringin nail polish or perfume in your carry-on, avoid applying it on board as they too have strong bothersome smells.

What Size carry-on Should I Bring?

Unfortunate there is no single standard in terms of weight or size that air lines allow as carry-on luggage. Every airline can have its own rules and requirements which are why it’s important to check this information by calling the air line or by visiting their website. Always get this information directly from the air line as requirements could change.

If you don’t want to concern yourself with carry-on luggage sizes since the luggage you buy for one air Lin might not meet the requirements of the next, you can’t go wrong with selecting a backpack as a carry-on. This is my preferred way to travel. I love how backpacks will easily fit right on your back and you don’t have to worry about wheeling carry-on luggage through crowds. Not only are backpacks easier to travel with but they also provide you with many compartments to it is easier to organize and access your items. Here are some of my favorite travel carry-on backpacks!

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What to pack in Your Carry-On Bag

We’ve covered what NOT to pack as well as how to select the right carry-on bag so that means we can move on to talk about what you should be packing in your carry-on luggage. If your checked baggage becomes delayed or lost a carry-on can be a real lifesaver if you packed the right things. Delayed luggage is actually pretty common Especually if you have long layovers or flight delays and cancellations.

1. Money and ID or Passport

Money includes all currency and credit cards. ID includes your passport or other identification cards. I actually don’t recommend putting these in your carry on. Instead, there are really cool and useful travel belts that hid well under clothing. this way you have these two most important items on you at all times. If your carry on we’re to get stolen you would still have money and important documentation. You also consider that it is easy to get pick pocketed in large crowds and is quite common in areas with large amounts of tourism. Here are a few of my recommended travel belts: click here to view

Jewelry is also another item that should be with you in your carry on. You never what to leave items with large monitary values in your checked baggage as it becomes more likely to be stolen.

2. Medications

Always always always take any medications you need with you on your carry on. I learned this lesson the hard way. In 2016 I traveled to Sarajevo to visit family and made the mistake of packing my medications in my checked baggage. My baggage ended up being lost and it was found and delivered to me until 7 days later. When you bring your medication with you in your carry-=on bring the whole supply not just what you will need during the flight.

3. Electronics and Fragile Items

All important electronics (cameras, phone, tablets, laptops etc) should be packed in your carry-on luggage. Baggage handlers are not genial and your checked luggage will be thrown, tossed, and even dropped. It will be put in moving vehicles and might even bounce around during flight turbulence. This is why I would highly recommend that anything breakable is packed in your carry on.

When you do pack lap tops or tablets be cure that they are easily accessible. Many security check points across the world will now require you to remove your laptop and tablet from your carry on and place it in a separate bin to run it through security. You don’t want to delay yourself or hold up the line by digging thought your carry-on trying to find your electronics.

Another reason to pack electronics in your carry on is that just like money and jewelry they are valuable and can run the risk of being stolen from checked luggage. Additionally, other countries and air lines may have their own rule in regards to what electronics you are printed to carry on board. be sure to call ahead and check with your air line to ensure you won’t run into and issues during your travels.

4.Change of Clothes

A change of clothes is essentially an insurance policy if your checked baggage gets lost or delayed. With a change of clothes, you won’t need to feel rushed to find a shopping mall to buy replacements. You might still have to buy a few items but at least you will have a complete outfit.

5. Toiletries

Remember that when packing shampoo and other toiletries that there is a strict 3.4oz (100ml0 limit on your containers. This way if your luggage gets lost you can still brush your teeth and freshen up. If I have long lay overs I like to brush my teeth in the plain or in air port bathrooms. Don’t forget to floss!

6. A Water Bottle

I always travel with a clear water bottle. This way security can clearly see that it is empty and they will allow you to take it on your flight. Once you pass security most air port will have drinking fountains next to bathrooms. Fill up your water bottle at drinking fountains and take it on board your flight. It important to stay hydrated while traveling, Especially since air plains are known for serving small serving of drinks. You will thank me!

7. Food and Snacks

Air plain food usually sucks and most international flight will sever two meals or one meal and a snack. There will be a chance that you won’t like the food options served so be sure to pack your own food and snacks. However, keep in mind that meat, fruits, and veggies are not allowed in new countries and need to be consumed during your flight.

8. Comfort Items

Bring items that will keep you entertained and make the flight more enjoyable. If you are flying overseas it would be a smart idea to get some sleep on your flight and have a better chance of adjusting to the time change faster. I never fly without my eye mask. This eye mask is great for blocking out light and for keeping your head in place so it stays up and you don’t have the awkward moment where you walk up and realize your head has been resting on your neither for the past 5 hours (long story).

Other items that might come in handy are your own set of headphones. many long international flights will have a personal screen and entertainment centers where you can watch the latest movies, tv shows and play games. Air lines will hand out cheap headphones on the flight but they always hurt my ears after a while and the sound quality is poor. That’s why I always prefer to bring my own. For those of you that are cruiser, these Bose in-ear headphones are the most comfortable headphones I own and are my “go to” head phone for flying.

Your plain isn’t guaranteed to have personal intertwine the centers, Especially for shorter flights so bring your own items for entertainment. Download you play lists for offline use and download and movies or books while you still have wifi.

Lastly I always recommend bringing a travel sized packet of tissues. For those “just in case” moments. I have a sensitive nose and will sometimes get a bloody nose when the air is dry so it always helps to have a packet of tissues handy.

Phew! That was a long long list and hopefully, you found it helpful in the preparation of your travels. Lastly, I’ll leave you with some of my carry-on necessities that I use for my flight travels. if you have any questions message in the comment section below. if you have more questions on what is and is not allowed you can visit the TSA website for more information.