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5 Things You Should *Always* Keep in Your Carry-On

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Packing for an upcoming summer getaway? Whether you’re checking a bag or trying to fit it all in your carry-on, there are several items that you should always keep with you on the plane.

Sure, you can probably guess some of them (passport!), but some of the other essential items may slip your mind as you rush around packing. In addition to personal nice-to-haves, like a good book, a trusty travel pillow, or an eye mask, here are five items you should always keep in your carry-on, no matter where you’re traveling.

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1. Two Days' Worth of Clothes

Fewer checked bags are being delayed or lost by airlines these days, according to air transport communications company, SITA. In 2016, just five bags were lost per 1,000 travelers—but when you consider that 2.5 million people travel every day, that’s still a lot of lost luggage.

If you’re checking a main bag when you travel, the general rule of thumb is to pack two days' worth of clothes in your carry-on, including undergarments and a spare pair of shoes.

2. Medicine

It’s totally miserable when you get a headache on a plane—and then realize you forgot to pack the ibuprofen. Your go-to pain reliever is a must-have for your carry-on, as well as any other prescriptions you take. Again, it would be a bad day if your main luggage got lost and you were stuck without important medications.

Waxed Canvas Travel Backpack

Waxed Canvas Travel Backpack

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Roma Weekend Bag


3. Important Documents

In addition to your boarding pass—which may very well be on your phone, thanks to today’s technology—there are several other documents you should always have on your person while traveling.

According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, you should keep the following items in your carry-on or purse:

  • Your passport—plus an extra copy of it
  • Your driver's license
  • Any reservation documentation for hotels, tours, etc.
  • Travel insurance documentation, if you have it
  • Credit cards

It may seem unnecessary to print out lodging info, but I can speak from personal experience: One time my brother’s phone died while he was on his way to an Airbnb in Iceland late at night. Goes to show, it’s beneficial to have the address written somewhere so you’re not at the mercy of technology.

4. Valuable Electronics and Jewelry

Most people choose to pack any valuable electronics and jewelry in their carry-on for peace of mind, as you’ll have the bag with you at all times.

If you’re packing your laptop, tablet, gaming system, camera, or other electronics, make sure to bring their respective chargers, too! You can use a few twist ties to keep cords organized, and toss them all in a bag for easy storage.

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Metal Corner Bookmark


5. Travel Wipes and/or Hand Sanitizer

Let’s face it: There are a lot of germs in airports and on airplanes. That’s why disinfecting wipes and/or hand sanitizer are must-haves for your carry-on bag. They don’t take up much space, and they let you wipe down your seat and tray, hopefully keeping yourself from getting sick during or after your travels.

Don't Forget the Snacks!

What are your carry-on essentials? Share them with us below!