Being that we have been traveling non-stop for almost two years and a half now, we have slowly mastered the art of traveling and how to utilize every inch of our bags and carry-on luggage. Mind you, when I say “mastered the art”, I mean I now no longer stuff everything than I can into one bag. Kidding aside, life on the road teaches you valuable tips and tricks which will make life easier. When we travel, we mainly have all our things in our big backpacks which we would happily chuck into the back of a bus or on a plane. Our carry-on luggage or day bags is something which remains with us at all times. What does it have? Essentials which would get us through long flights, bus rides, or worse, the survival of lost luggage. So without further ado, here are some tips on travel essentials to pack in your carry-on bags.
1. Travel Documents
Using a travel wallet or even just a Small Plastic Envelope to organize all your travel documents is highly advisable. In this envelope, you can keep your passport, flight tickets (we recommend keeping them on your phone for environment’s sake!), a pen, along with photocopies of your passport and credit cards. In case anything happens, having photocopies of all your documents in one place is a life saver. Having a written copy of the address you are going to also comes in handy. Sometimes, immigration officers ask for this before entering the country. In case you ran out of battery on your phone, this will save you from the awkward “umm….it’s somewhere in here” moment.
It’s a no-brainer that you should keep all your valuables with you. Money, credit cards, jewelry, or anything valuable should be kept with you at all times. If your luggage gets lost, so will your money. I make sure that my wallet is neatly packed. For good measure, I also place photocopies of my IDs in my luggage along with a written contact number in case it gets lost! Another great tip is to have a photocopy of your passport in your wallet with emergency contact numbers written down at the back.
3. Medications / Prescriptions
This is another thing that I have learned from experience. Always carry a small med kit with you which has your essential travel medications. I once had a severe allergy attack in the middle of a long flight from New York to China. The kicker? All my medication were conveniently located in my main backpack which was checked in the flight. The result? 15 agonizing hours with nothing but an ice pack for my swelling ear. Always pack a small medicine kit with the basics. Headache and allergy medicine plus the other prescription medicine that you might need. In case your luggage gets lost, it is best to have those in hand. This travel health journal has some good advice on traveling with medication and how to check if the medication you are bringing is legal or not.
4. Eye Care
Apart from bringing your medications, other essentials like contact lenses and eye drops are best kept safe in your carry on. Tom used to carry boxes of contact lenses with him as buying them in another country is just too much of a hassle. Given his high prescription grade, he has to normally order them from the shop and wait until it gets delivered-sometimes, it can take weeks! However, during our recent trip to Europe, he discovered Vision Direct through their Summer campaign. Vision Direct is a company who delivers contact lenses directly to you within two to three days. For those who travel with bad eyesight, you know how much of a relief this is! Their fast delivery all over Europe has saved us a couple of times from having to charades our way through yet another awkward travel situation. Without his contacts, Tom can’t even see so having this option has been one less thing that he has to worry about when packing. In the same way, if you have sensitive eyes, always bring some eye drops with you as again, you don’t with irritated eyes.
Is ordering contact lenses abroad a myth? Check this infographic out to see how it works
5. Spare clothes
My mum always used to tell me to pack a change of clothes (underwear included) in our carry-ons. I never believed her and thought it was one of those “mum things”. Lo and behold, my backpack didn’t make it to Spain during a local flight and somehow ended up in Greece. Lesson of the story? Always do and trust what your mum says. Another tip to keep in mind is to pack spare clothes that will be based on where you are going. If you’re flying to Norway, there is no point in packing a spare tank top and shorts. I also always bring a scarf in case the flight is a bit chilly.
6. Phone chargers / Powerbank
Speaking of losing battery, one thing that we always travel with, especially on long haul flights and buses is our power bank. There is nothing worse than arriving to a new destination with no clue on where to go because your phone just died. Trust me, we have learned from experience. If you don’t have a power bank, pack your phone charger at the very least. It would save you having to dig through your bag in the middle of the airport, desperately trying to find an outlet to plug your phone to.
I cannot stress the importance of having a small toothbrush, wipes, and basic toiletries when you travel. Sometimes, you need a good pick me up and freshening up is the only way to do it. I once survived a hellish 30-hour bus ride from Vietnam to Laos and I could have sworn that my little toiletry pouch kept me slightly sane. I normally have loads of little pouches or zip locks which contain different things from wipes, a small travel deodorant, and some perfume. When you do pack toiletries, just be mindful of TSA liquid rules which are pretty standard everywhere.
In this day and age, we get on airplanes thinking that they would all have movies ready for us to watch but sometimes, you get unlucky as you chance upon those old school planes with no entertainment systems. Tom was on a flight from the Philippines to London on a plane with no movies. The solution? Bring your own entertainment. Whether it’s an iPad, a kindle, or even just a book, having your own personal entertainment can be a life saver for long waits. Don’t forget to bring your own headphones! Since space is a luxury for me, I no longer travel with paperback books. Although I love the feeling of reading actual books, they just don’t make sense to lug around. Instead, I always have multiple titles sitting around on my iPad ready for me to read.
9. Snacks- lots of it!
Speaking of that long bus ride, another thing that kept me sane were snacks. Maybe it’s just me, but man do I hate being hungry during long travel days. Although most airlines will provide you with snacks, my suggestion is to bring your own. Especially for long haul flights or trips.
Lastly, one of the most important tips is this. In line with the whole making sure your valuables are all with you, packing your electronics like your laptop and cameras is a good way to know that they are safe. For us, being that we are so highly dependent on our gadgets, having these things constantly with us just gives us peace of mind. Plus, we usually use our spare time in planes and trains to get some work done. Having them safely packed in your carry-on bag also means that they are less likely to get damaged. Bags often go flying everywhere when handled in airports, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Do you have any more tips on what to pack in your carry-on bag? Check out our other articles on travel tips
- 18 Useful Travel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know
- What Kind of Traveler are You?
- 5 Reasons Why You Need to Travel with Your Partner
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