The carry-on bag is far too often underestimated. While an after-thought for most, it can be your greatest asset and comfort during a day of air-travel. And no, please don’t try to tell me that you’re just fine with dumping the various items you think you need in your carry-on bag of choice. You think this purely because you haven’t seen the greater possibilites. Well, my friend, I’m delighted to share my secrets with you today. Check it:
The Bag Itself
Step one is finding a prime bag. And let me tell you, not all bags are created equal. Depending on the location and length of the trip, I bring either a small backpack or a medium-sized tote bag. Both can accomplish the same goals, one just allows for more space and additional items if needed. The factors to consider when selecting your carry on bag include the following:
- Main compartment area: A good carry-on has a no-nonsense, large compartment space with flexible fabric walls (to be accessible for all the random items you’ll be bringing).
- Pockets: Ideally you will have a large, medium, and small pocket. This makes it so much easier to keep your carry-on compact and organized. Make sure the pockets zip or snap closed so you don’t accidentally lose items during the hustle and bustle of your travel day.
- Straps: Are your carry-on bag’s straps padded and/or made of comfortable material? Are they going to dig into your shoulders and make you hate your life more than breaking in a new pair of shoes? Straps are arguably the most important factor here.
- Material: We don’t want hard plastic but we also don’t want a paper bag. Find a sturdy in-between on strength, and choose colors that won’t show dirt quickly. I suggest a thick fabric that can be washed.
Obviously we all have our own ideas of “must brings” for a carry-on bag. Here’s my general list that I use, and one I find is useful to the majority of other human beings:
- Important Documents
- Wallet/Sunglasses/Purse Things
- Jacket/Extra Clothes/Socks
- Pen/Mini Notebook
- Chargers/External Battery
My go-to skin products on a flight? Redness reduction/healing serum (I use iS Clinical’s Pro-Heal Serum Advance), Glossier’s priming moisturizer, and quality lip balm (I like the deep moisturizing nature of Kiehl’s).
Flying is a great time to dive into some reading, journal, or work on new ideas. I always bring at least one book (Like Jenna Fischer’s amazing book on acting, “The Actor’s Life”) and a slim notebook to capture my ideas while traveling.
And of course I’m rarely ever without my laptop these days! I actually wrote this article while on the plane back from Nice, France.
Packing the Perfect Carry-On
The general idea is that there should be a designated place for all the small stuff, and to pack everything else within the realities of use. That means that we’re going to pack the items you’re least likely to use (or use less frequently) near the bottom of the bag, and the most common on top. Another strategy involves layering items within one another like Russian Nesting Dolls. Ladies, if you want to bring a smaller purse to use on your trip, use it to help organize your carry-on bag. Thes methods help prevent wasted minutes digging through bags or the frustration of having to completely unpack and repack when you’re in the uncomfortable middle seat of a cramped plane sandwiched between two other individuals.
Here’s the run-down:
Step One: Wallet, Sunglasses, Phone Charger, Lipgloss, and Hand Sanitizer, etc. all get packed neatly into my small purse. Make sure to keep your ticket/ID/Passport out though. Set this small purse to the side momentarily.
Step Two: Place other small items get placed either in the small front pocket of your backpack or a secure side pocket of a tote bag. These items can include: Earplugs, Headphones, Pens, External Batteries, etc.
Step Three: If you have an additional side pocket, designate it for your snacks or computer charger.
Step Four: In the main pocket: roll up any clothing items (socks, sweater, extra shirt, whatever) and place them at the bottom of the pocket. Then, from the back to the front of the bag layer your laptop, book(s), and notebook. You toiletry bag sould nestle directly on top, or slide in front. Finally, fill the sides with any left over smaller items.
This arrangement will allow you easy access to remove electronics and liquids for the security checkpoint, and replace them with ease. It’ll also keep your carry-on bag nice and compact during your travels.
Have you come up with your own master strategy for packing carry-on bags? Feel free to share in the comments below!