Carry This: 5 Essential Items to Keep in Your Carry-On Luggage

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Packing is usually one of the least pleasant parts of trip planning, but obviously, it’s a necessary one. On most airlines you’ll be allowed to take one carry-on suitcase, as well as a purse or bag, on board the aircraft. Using that allowance to its best advantage is a good idea.
With checked luggage fees now the norm and not the exception among airlines, your carry-on might in fact be your only bag. If it’s not, these are the top five things that should never be placed in checked luggage and should always stay with you in your carry-on.

5 A Change of Clothes

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Luggage can and does get lost. Wearing the same clothes for two or three days, or being forced to spend your trip budget on a new wardrobe while you’re waiting for your suitcases to reappear can irritating. If you really don’t have room to take a full change of clothes with you, having a pair of fresh socks and clean underwear can still be a huge help in the event of lost luggage or long flights.

4 A Small Toiletry Kit

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After you’ve been on a flight for 10 or 15 hours, it might feel amazingly good to be able to brush your teeth, wash your face, or top up your deodorant. Keep a small bag with your essential hygiene items with you.

3 Medications

Any and all medications, be they prescription or over the counter, should come with you in your carry-on bag. If your flight is delayed or your luggage gets lost, you don’t want to be without your medicine. In addition, checked baggage is exposed to more extreme weather and temperature conditions, which can harm your medication or vitamins.

2 Documents

Yes, yes, I know this one sounds obvious, but there are in fact people out there who have inadvertently packed their passport or ID in their checked luggage. Your ID, passport, visas, credit cards, insurance cards, et al should always be right with you.

1 Valuables

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Every year people lose laptops, cell phones, jewelry and other valuables to theft at airports. Did they get mugged? No, they packed these items in their checked luggage. Unfortunately, not every airport employee or inspector in the world is honest, and valuables can and do get stolen. Published reports indicate that theft from checked baggage continues to be a problem at airports around the United States. Suitcase locks don’t do much to stop this either: the TSA has the legal right to remove your padlock, even if it’s a so-called “TSA approved” model. To protect yourself always keep your money, laptops, cameras, phones, mp3 players, watches, jewelry, cash and other expensive items with you. As a rule of thumb: if it looks as though it might bring a nice sum on eBay, don’t pack it in checked luggage. Keep an eye on your carry-on as you go through the airport, too; there have been claims of theft at security checkpoints. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to try to minimize your valuables before your trip. You likely don’t want to be without your camera or phone, but maybe you don’t need to bring your tablet, laptop, and the most expensive watch you own. If you’re married you’ll want to wear your wedding ring, but perhaps you can leave the other expensive pieces at home. If you’re carrying gifts and you don’t have room for them in your carry-on bag, it might actually be safer to send them ahead of you by mail, certified and insured, to your destination. Most airlines have a standard allowance for lost luggage and don’t cover the loss of expensive electronics or other valuables. With the post office or FedEx, however, you can insure your package for whatever it’s actually worth and file a claim for full reimbursement if it doesn’t reach its destination safe and sound.

The way you pack your bags can, unfortunately or not, play a huge part in whether your trip starts off on the right foot. A small amount of savvy can help protect you from heartache.
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