Tips for Packing a Carry On Bag

Checked baggage fees with airlines keep going up and up and up. On my last flight, everyone had large carry on bags and there were hardly any checked bags. Of course, there are risks involved with checking your luggage AND with bringing a carry on. When my husband and I flew American Airlines from Dallas to Honolulu in January, a few unlucky passengers had their carry on luggage denied and had to check them anyway. And not all the bags made it to our destination, including one lady’s bag with her medication.

Here are some of my tips for packing a carry on bag:

Check the size– There are normal carry on bags, and then there are the bags people try to sneak through security hoping no one notices that three people could fit inside.

Check the weight – Carry on bags aren’t usually weighed, but the rule of thumb is, if you can’t lift your bag to place it in the overhead bin, then you should probably check it. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, such as wheeled travelers, children traveling alone, etc.

Keep your medication handy – If you are traveling with medication, you don’t want to risk it getting lost. By placing it in your correct size carry on, you’ll be sure to have what you need.

Pack a swimsuit and a change of clothing – If your checked luggage gets lost, you’ll at least be able to relax in the hot tub or enjoy your beach destination.

Follow the 3-1-1 rule – The TSA has specific rules for liquids, gels, and other non-solid items being transported in a carry on bag. These items must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag. Be sure to have this handy to take out of your bag to place in the bin when going through security. You can read the official liquid carry on rules at

Keep cords and chargers organized – If you are traveling with electronics, it helps the TSA agents if you keep your cords organized inside your carry on. Otherwise, a jumbled mess may look suspicious and be cause for you to go through a more thorough and very personal security check.

mini flashlight LED keychain great for travelHave a small flashlight handy – I keep a Rayovac Brilliant Solutions mini flashlight LED keychain attached inside my carry on in an easy access pocket. It came in handy when my unzipped purse fell over on the airplane floor. Those underseat areas sure are dark!

Pack some snacks – You can’t bring bottled water through security, but you can pack sealed snacks such as cereal bars, trail mix, and other goodies to tide you over until you reach your destination. Airlines are not only charging for checked bags, but now they charge for snacks on your flight. Keep in mind that most airlines are now cashless in the air, meaning you can only make an inflight purchase with either pre-purchased airline snack vouchers or by using your credit card.

Pack for a nap – I keep a travel blanket, eye mask, and ear plugs in my carry on bag. I also have a pair of socks to keep my feet warm if I’m traveling in sandals or flip flops. Even if I don’t nap, those ear plugs have come in very handy on flights where there are noisy travelers.

What are some of your tips for packing a carry on bag? I’m always interested in hearing what others pack.

I’m a Rayovac Power Blogger, sharing tips on how to power your life and travels. This post is part of the Rayovac Power Blogger Program.

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One Comment

  1. It is really important to be knowledgeable of the rules the airlines have regarding carry-on bags, and stick to these than to get in trouble. These tips you have imparted are indeed very useful. Several readers will surely benefit from these. Thank you for posting.

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