6 items you should always pack in your carry-on bag
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Most of our travel plans were cancelled last year and so far this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But hopefully, the remainder of 2021 and 2022 will see things getting back to normal.
So, if you travel often with Europe’s budget airlines or because you’ve bought a basic economy fare on a full-service airline, you may be a whizz at travelling with a carry-on bag only. But for longer trips or where you are travelling for an event like a wedding, you may need to check in a bag or two.
Checking in a bag can free you up to take fewer items on board, but what should you always remember to have in your carry-on luggage?
1. Your passport Or ID
Don’t forget to keep some form of identification on you. Even if you don’t need a passport to board a flight, it’s a good idea to keep photo ID on you in case your bag is delayed. You may not be able to check into a hotel or collect a hire car without proper identification.
If, for some reason, your bag is lost forever, it can be a frustrating and expensive process to replace items like a passport and your driver’s license.
2. Phone and device chargers
With so many aircraft now featuring inflight charging points, you can ensure your phone, tablet or laptop remains charged for the duration of the flight. Be sure to bring those accessories with you so you can take advantage of the in-seat power.
If you have a lengthy layover between flights, you don’t want your device to run out of battery just as you need it.
Related: How to get a second British passport
3. A change of clothes
If you’re travelling on long flights that connect at another destination, such as from the U.K. to Australia, you probably don’t want to wear the same clothes for 24 hours. If you have access to a shower during your layover, it can make a world of difference to your mood by simply showering and changing into a fresh pair of clothes — especially the socks and underwear! Carrying a set with you can help you to feel better for the duration of your journey.
Plus, if your baggage is delayed once you get to your final destination, you’ll definitely want clothes to change into. Even if your flight is short and direct, it’s a great idea to have a change of clothes in case of delayed baggage. Make sure this outfit is appropriate for your destination.
Don’t try and watch a funny video on your phone with the speaker turned up to full. This is annoying to fellow passengers both in the airport lounge and onboard — take headphones with you. It’s a good idea if you are using earbuds or AirPods to have these in your pocket as you board a flight rather than just in your hand luggage so they are easy to reach and use as you sit down without needing to get up and retrieve them from the overhead.
Related: Your guide to packing for toddlers
5. Refillable water bottle
During the flight, it can be a good 20 minutes — or more — before cabin crew reach you during the beverage service, which is an issue if you’re especially thirsty. That’s why I carry a reusable water bottle with me so I don’t have to wait. Flying can really dehydrate you, especially if you’re drinking alcohol. It’s very handy to have a water bottle with you so you can reach for it whenever you like.
For airports that have limits on liquids you can take through security, you will need to remember to drink or pour out the water in your bottle as you pass through security. You can still take the empty bottle though and an increasing number of airports will have free water refill stations to avoid paying for overpriced bottles of airport water.
6. Daily medication
If you need to take medication daily, you should pack a few day’s worths in your hand luggage. If your luggage is delayed or lost, this could become critical to your health.
Also, if you wear contact lenses you may wish to take a few extra disposable pairs in the event that your luggage doesn’t return to you at the exact time you expected it. If you have permanent RPG contact lenses, remember to pack the case you store them in overnight if you are planning to sleep on the flight.
Whether you’re a packing pro or only travel with a carry-on bag, here are the things you should never forget to pack in your hand luggage. Be sure to keep this list in mind — even if your next trip isn’t until months away. It’s always good to start planning!
Featured image by JT Genter/The Points Guy
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