We’ve all witnessed it: The gate agent calls Group 2. The young man (or woman) corrals their duffle bag and slings the strap diagonally across their body as the straps hold on for dear life – and subsequently make that squeaking noise that no one is able to find a solution for. Here comes the backpack – slung over the other shoulder. They’re single-strappin’ it like the first day of school in 1995. They don’t stop there as they bend down, trying to grab their computer briefcase, as the aforementioned duffle and backpack slide from their shoulders – only to start the process over again.
We get it – you don’t want the airline to lose your luggage; nor do you want to wait for you belongings at baggage claim. But remember, these are carry-ons! And regulations are pretty much the same on all airlines: one small roller bag (see airlines’ specifications), one small duffle or backpack and one hand-held item (as in a small purse or table).
Here’s a tip to ensure that you don’t lose your luggage and have room for your backpack in the overheads (best if it’s a direct flight): Bring your one roller carry-on to the gate. Have the agent “gate check” your bag. They will offer to check it for free and bring it below to the luggage hold. The bag will be waiting for you upon arrival at either the gate (smaller vessels) or baggage claim (most vessels). This way, you are traveling lightly and your backpack doesn’t sit on the floor and take away your leg room.
Let’s consolidate the above three carry-on items into one backpack. Let’s take a look at what’s in that backpack. This is the reason you’re reading this, isn’t it?
Laptop/Tablet and Power Cord: Tablet is ideal – it’s light and get’s the job done. If you have a light laptop – MacBook, etc – bring it. Bring the power cord! Most seats have power sources and if you get stranded, you can plug in. Tip: if traveling internationally, make sure you have converter and country specific attachment. Leave the excess pieces in luggage.
Mobile Phone Power Cord: Useful to make calls if stranded and/or to call loved- ones when landing.
Prescription Medications: Very important here. Don’t leave this to chance. Pack enough medication for the duration of your trip. Pack in a plastic bag and leave your Rx boxes and vials at home (saves space).
Wallet/Passport/ID: Do I need to explain this?
Cash for 48 hours: Plan like all of your reservations will fall through and you need cash to solve the problem – especially if traveling internationally where cash is more widely used.
Hand sanitizer: The tray tables are gross. The bathrooms are gross. The boogers flying through the air are gross (cover your mouths people!). Everything you touch is gross. You should just take a bath in sanitizer every hour. If that’s not for you, just be sure to wipe down you tray table before placing a dinner roll on it.
Certain toiletries: You’re going to feel like a hot mess after a flight – that’s a fact (even in business class). Pack some travel sized deodorant, mouthwash – throw these into a pliable toiletry bag with your hand sanitizer and Rx meds.
Let’s discuss what not to pack:
Company laptops: If your company assigns you a typical Dell or HP, 10 lb. monstrosity – put that in the roller and gate check it. Who wants to lug that thing around?
Books/magazines: Download them on your tablet and make it easy on yourself (note* I love hard copies of books – but save those for the home)
Unnecessary toiletries: Leave cologne/perfume, toothbrush/toothpaste, shaving, etc in your roller bag. Even if you lose your luggage, these are items you can get by without (but remember to brush your teeth at some point – that’s just good manners).
Items to wear – rather than pack:
Light sweater: Let’s face it, planes get cold. Even if you turn off your air vent, the plane still maintains a temp of -9°. Wear a light sweater (or wrap around you).
Headphones: Noise-canceling or ear buds – wear them and don’t pack into your backpack. You’ll going to wear them anyway . Just do everyone a favor, take them off when they’re boarding and trying to give instructions.
Neck Pillow: Wear this around your neck (and set the tone that you will not be bothered) or attach it to backpack. Either way, don’t pack it if you’re going to use it once you sit down.
So there you have it. What to pack, what not to pack and what to wear.