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So you’re excited to go on your overseas trip and are packing your bags. But what do you pack in your carry-on luggage? Well, don’t get stressed. Here’s some of my tips that will help you get organised and make your travels easy.
Firstly, make sure all of your most valuable possessions and important documents are kept with you when you travel, NOT in your check-in luggage. I can’t stress this enough! Check-in baggage can get lost, stolen, broken-into, damaged, or even end up going to a different destination. Yep, especially if you have connecting flights. Clothes can be easily replaced, but not valuables.
Items you may need
Secondly, keep items you may need to use in your carry-on so you have access to them at airports and on planes, particularly if you have connecting flights to your final destination. You will probably want to use your electronic devices, read, get changed or freshen up. Travelling from Australia, sometimes up to 24 hours, I always appreciate being able to brush hair and teeth, that way I arrive feeling human.
My carry-on list
This is my list of things I like to have with me on long international flights. Obviously everyone is different, and I appreciate that many people like to travel with the minimum amount of stuff possible. But I prefer to be prepared for anything, maybe because I’m a mum and have been used to travelling with children for the last twenty plus years!
Make sure you carry appropriate clothes for the climate you are going to. This may seem logical but important to ad-dress (pardon the pun). For example, if you are leaving warm weather of Kota Kinabalu in shorts and t-shirt to go to the cold Winter in Paris, you need to bring some warm clothes to change into so you don’t freeze to death when you step outside. You may have to carry a coat on your arm, which the flight attendants can hang up in the plane for you.
Alternatively, if departing from cold weather (say Winter in London) to go to a hot climate (like Malaysia), you can’t arrive in your winter woollies because you will die of heat and look like an idiot. Just saying! So you need to have summer clothes handy to change into, or wear them underneath. Then fit your winter clothing into your carry-on. Simple.
I have often flown to and from opposite sides of the world with totally different climates and I can tell you that you have to be prepared for the dramatic change in temperature once you step out of the plane or airport. It can be quite a shock if you’re not prepared.
Peace of mind
I know this may seem like a lot of stuff to carry on the plane, but it’s for your own peace of mind and security. If your luggage doesn’t arrive with you at your destination, you know you have all your valuables and enough items, to get by for a couple of days, until your other stuff turns up. And in the worst case scenario of your luggage not being found, it isn’t the end of the world if the only things in your check-in luggage are just clothes and items that are easily replaced.
There is no standard size and weight for carry-on luggage!
What? I know, it’s ridiculous. Every airline in the world has their own guidelines which vary considerably, as overhead luggage compartments on the planes vary in size. So if you don’t check to make sure what size you allowed, your bag might not fit above or below your seat. But let’s not ‘carry-on’ about ‘carry-ons’, we just have to carry-on with it. Ha! Too much? Sorry.
So I suggest, instead of pulling your hair out or just guessing what size to take, it’s best that you consult your airline’s website for their carry-on dimensions and weight, for the class you are travelling in before you go. Economy and business class vary in their allowed size and weight. Otherwise, you may be forced to check it in with your other luggage or downsize your carry-on. This is most inconvenient. I once had to buy a smaller bag at the airport and try to stuff everything in it before boarding. Not a good start to the trip.
As a general rule, what is the most common size? Usually international flights have more space to allow bigger carry-ons than domestic flights. A common size for economy class seems to be 50 x 35 x 20 centimetres and 7 kg. Here’s a guide on how to measure you luggage accurately.
I have a couple of different size bags at home which I use. When in doubt, use a smaller one. Some airlines won’t worry if it’s a bit bigger but some will, and you really don’t want the hassle if they won’t let you take it on board.
Are you allowed to have a second bag, such as a handbag, backpack, laptop or briefcase?
Generally yes. Most airlines allow you to take one extra small personal bag with you in economy. But again, make sure you check with your airline, as some have different rules. For example, Air China, Virgin Atlantic and Olympic Airways do not allow a second personal bag. How frustrating, because it means in this instance you have to squash your handbag inside your carry-on. Argh!
However, if they do allow a second bag, take a generous size handbag with a zip, for a little more space. Genius! I know.
Please never ever leave your hand luggage alone. Should you lock it? Preferably yes.
I hope this article has helped you. You don’t have to follow everything I’ve suggested, of course, but be sensible about what you take on board.