Don’t Travel Without These in Your Carry-On

We all hope for seamless travel. Your best bet, though, is to be prepared, anytime, anywhere, for anything. Delays, cancellations, and lost checked luggage are real, and a real hassle. With decades of travel and nearly a million miles under my belt, here are the things I always have in my carry on bag… because you just never know. 

1. Jacket or Sweater

Airplane air conditioning can be downright cold. Ensure a comfortable flight by carrying with you a light jacket or sweater. This can also come in handy if you get stuck unexpectedly. It’s not unheard of during a wintertime flight from sunny Florida to sunny Southern California to get marooned in the Mile High city of Denver; even stranded during a snowstorm. That extra layer you have with you will be treasured, I promise. I also often travel with a large scarf, which keeps me cozy as well as looking chic. If not used for warmth on the flight, I might roll it behind my back for lumbar support. 

2. Change of Clothes

Many times I’ll travel only with a carry-on, and then of course I’ll have all the clothes that I need. But if your checked bag gets lost or delayed, having at least one other fresh and clean outfit to put on goes a long way when frazzled and feeling anything but…!

3. Basic Toiletries

A toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, deodorant and anything else that you’d be miss during an unexpected overnight is a must.

4. Food

Nowadays, you’re lucky to get a bag of pretzels on most airlines. Food and beverage service has dwindled, and those snack boxes they offer for sale are $$ and frankly not very tasty. Planning on grabbing lunch at that celebrity chef’s place you heard about in Terminal A during your layover? When stuff hits the fan and you find yourself running to make a connection, you’ll be happy to have the snacks you want tucked away in your carry on.

5. Hand Wipes

This one really needs no explanation. Wipe down your tray table, seat belt, television monitor and hand rests, then grab another one and wipe your hands. Travel is fraught with germs… keep yourself safe and healthy. 

6. A Book

The last international flight I was on, the gentleman seated behind me had the very misfortune of a broken seat monitor. An 11 hour flight with no entertainment would be brutal. Bring a book, because you never know. 

7. Headphones

Needless to say, the headphones airlines sell are not good quality. Use them in a pinch, but a nice pair is worth their weight… preferably ones with noise cancellation.

8. Phone and Charger

Almost everything is on our phones; boarding passes included. Ensure you’ve got a charger tucked in your carry-on, as running out of battery could be a major issue.

9. Important Travel Documents

If you are traveling internationally, you’ll need your passport handy, plus visas, if necessary. Make copies, and snap a picture, as well, in case they get lost or stolen.

10. Prescription Medications

Definitely have these on your person, not in your checked bags, especially if you have required daily medication. 

11. Anything of Value You Wouldn’t Want to Lose

When checking my suitcase, I’ll pack a small jewelry bag to tuck in my purse. If you have items of sentimental or monetary value, bring them with you on the plane. It’s a real shame if an airline loses your luggage, though downright heartbreaking if your grandmother’s heirloom necklace goes missing. 

12. Important Information and Confirmations for Your Destination

Any information you need upon arrival, such as location of your business meeting, transportation details or hotel confirmations should be easily accessible so you don’t have to dig through your luggage while you’re exiting the airport.

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