What Should I Pack In My Carry On Luggage?

A lot of people underestimate the power of carry on luggage. They throw a couple of things in there that they think they will need on the airplane and call it day. Well I am here to help you realize your carry on bag’s full potential.

Ksena looking for our gate while rolling a Liz Claiborne carry on bag, my favorite piece of luggage.

Let’s start off with a story from my recent trip with my husband and three children from Athens, Greece to Los Angeles, California. We got through the physical hurdle of checking in our many suitcases, getting through airport security, loading all of the kids on the plane, getting them secured in their seats, and taking off. Life was good. This is normally the time I start to relax, because the worst is over, at least for a few hours until the kids get bored. Then it happened… the in flight drink service. The lovely plane worker handed Kati (my 3 year old daughter) an apple juice while Travis was getting Ksena’s drink set down on her tray table (note to lovely plane workers… you should probably wait for the parent of the 3 year old to take their drink… just saying’) and she spilled the ENTIRE cup all over herself and the seat. The lovely plane worker proceeded to high tail it out of there leaving us to clean up after her mistake. I wish she would have offered to help, but that was my only service complaint through the entire flight, so overall the service was great. I got out of my seat (I was sitting behind Travis and the girls next to Timotheos) and took down my handy Liz Claiborne carry on bag. I stripped Kati right there in the isle, took out a change of clothes for her, handed Travis a full pack of wipes to wipe down the seat, and placed her wet clothes in a plastic bag. The whole incident took less than 5 minutes, but think about how complicated it would have been if I didn’t have a change of clothes for her (or if the seats had been cloth instead of leather… yikes). I share this little anecdote with you to illustrate the importance of packing a well rounded carry on bag.

Of course there are many other things that can go wrong when using air travel, but one of the most common is having a suitcase go missing only to turn up days later. That is why I also pack a few things for Travis and I along with extra clothes for the girls. The last thing I want to do is go out and spend money on a change of clothes because the airlines lost my bag.

And without further ado, here is the list of things you should pack in your carry on bag:

-One or two empty plastic bags, for soiled clothes… or whatever else you might need them for.

-A change of clothes (including underwear and socks) for everyone in your family. There should be at least two changes of clothes for each of your kids.

-Pajamas for your kids. When you land wherever you are going, you are going to be tired from traveling and you won’t want to deal with unpacking your bag right away most of the time. So throw in a pair of pj’s for each child that way you are ready to put them to bed when you arrive at your destination.

-Toiletries. If your suitcase gets lost, you will still need the basics. I always pack our toothbrushes, a hair brush, and travel toiletries including toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and deodorant. Make sure you pack these according to airline standards (which can vary by airport). Generally the rule is a one quart bag, and no individual item over 3 ounces or 88 milliliters. It is better to use travel items instead of using small, clear containers because the TSA person will know what is in it, instead of questioning what the fluid is. If you have little girls, also remember to pack hair ties and hair clips. They are small and you don’t want to be without them.

-Snacks. I always bake something special for the plane ride that my family will enjoy. I also peel and cut up carrots and bring pretzels or crackers. You don’t have to bake, but if you do my favorite easy to follow baking website is Joy Of Baking. This time I made banana muffins, yum!

-Empty water bottles. Bring one or two to fill up inside the airport once you get through security. I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to pay $4 for 20 oz. of water, thank you very much JFK.

-Activities to do on the airplane. Now they have those handy in flight entertainment systems that play music or videos and even offer games to play. However, it is still a good idea to bring things to do, because you might end up with a broken remote (like I did… bummer) or something else. So make sure to bring coloring books, toys, and games for your kids, along with a book or iPad for yourself. I was really kicking myself because I forgot to pack a book, even though it was on my list. I have to admit that I was pretty bored when I wasn’t watching Timo or the girls.

-Your computer. Obviously you should never stick a computer in a checked bag if you want to keep it safe. You also want to keep it with you so you can avoid it being stolen. My diaper bag has a pocket for a laptop (thank you Fleurville!), but Travis usually carries our laptop in our camera bag which also has a slot for a laptop. In my opinion it is better to get a multipurpose laptop bag instead of a bag that only holds a laptop, that way you can maximize your “Personal Item” such as a purse or baby bag, when traveling.

Those are the super basic items I pack into our carry on bag. If you can stuff anything else in there, then go for it! But remember you don’t want your bag overly full because it will be a major pain to get things in and out. I will be talking about what kind of bag is best for carry on luggage in another post soon, so look out for that. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Happy travels!!

Kristin

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