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How to Pack a Carry-on Bag

February 6, 2015
What do you mean pack light?

It’s the last thing people think about, but the thing that matters most: packing a carry-on bag. It’s a bit of a mysterious piece of luggage: on some airlines it has weight restrictions, others restrict by size, and the rest are quite lenient as to the definition of “one per person”. We thought we’d share some tricks of the trade to keep in mind when packing a carry-on for you next fantastic adventure.

On your carry-on, you should pack (drum-roll please)


This point isn’t even a discussion. That’s why it’s number one. Keep your passport, your driver’s license, and all other necessary documentation in your carry-on bag. This should be your safe-haven for the important things that you will need to bring out often in the course of checking-in to flights, hotels, and ultra-high class establishments.

Some Money

You don’t want to keep all of your money in one place. Not ever, not anywhere, not anyhow. If something ever happens to one bag (whether carry-on or checked) you want to make sure you have some back-up money to get you through the day. So put some in your safe-haven bag to make sure that you can easily pay for that airport sandwich that is calling your name without digging through your luggage.

Leisure Activities

Books! Ipods! Notebooks! Imagination! The possibilities are nearly endless. Just make sure you have something to keep you busy on the flight in case you don’t feel like watching movies, or if your movie screen isn’t working properly.


Yes, most airlines have headphones. But most also charge a small fee for them, and none of them are good quality. You’re much better off to bring your own set that won’t hurt your ears or make you want to throw them at the poor passenger beside you.

Heavy Things

Carry-ons are supposed to be light travel accoutrements, BUT they can also be life-savers when your bag is deemed a few pounds too heavy. Don’t wreck your back by carrying around a set of free weights, but if you need to take out a pair of shoes or a sweater to get out of a fee, carry-ons are there for the rescue.

As previously mentioned, some airlines measure carry-ons by size and others by weight, and the difficult ones by both. Make sure you know how your airline is handling things, and try to play by their rules as much as possible.

One last thing I like to take with me are the exact directions/confirmations of the first destination I am going to. Whether it’s the hotel, a restaurant, or a friend’s house: knowing which bus to take from the airport is a load off of your mind.

Pack well and travel safe!

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