Following the experience that I had while traveling to the UK a few weeks ago (where my carry-on did not fit the airlines regulations), I felt the need to make this article, specifically regarding the contents of the perfect carry-on.
- If you were stuck on an island for 3 days, without any access to your luggage, what would you absolutely need to have with you?
- If your were traveling for a conference and your bags were delayed for 48 hours, what would you need with you right away?
- If your connecting flight was cancelled and you had to wait for at last 24 hours till the next flight, what are the items that you’d readily need?
Based on my experience with each of these situations, here are my suggestions of what should be included in the perfect carry-on:
1. Your Bible
The Story: There are just way too many, and I don’t even know which one to pick.But as I stated on the page About me, I believe in God. And personally, I always make sure to carry the word of God with me wherever I go. Traveling is fun, but when things go wrong, it can turn into a physically and mentally challenging experience. I have faced despicable things and been in unthinkable situations when traveling, but just like in all my trials and tribulations, I turn to God for advice, strength and courage and He has always gotten me out (Had it not been the case, I wouldn’t be writing this post today). I don’t always carry the Bible with me, but I have access to a Bible app on my phone and my other electronics, and it works perfectly.
Speaking of electronics…
2. Your Essential Electronics. CHARGED Essential Electronics
You learn to understand the value of a charged phone when you need to make an urgent call and your phone is conveniently dead.
The Story: I was traveling to Houston, and I had arranged with a friend to come and pick me up at the airport. My flight from Charlotte was delayed due to poor weather conditions, so I notified him when we eventually took off and we agreed that I’ll do the same when I land. But when I landed, my phone was somewhere close to 1% and because there were no inflight power plugs, I was relying on the airport plugs on arrival to get a quick boost. Unfortunately, it was also peak flight times, and the immigration and baggage collection lines were so long that by the time I got out, my phone was already dead. So I ended up having to wait to get it charged enough to make an uninterrupted phone call, and then wait for my friend to come pick me up, which just added to the pain. This was not funny at all, especially since I had an exam in the morning.
3. An International Travel Adaptor
Not having an international travel adaptor is just as bad as not having a charged computer/phone/power bank.
The Story: Everything that I could think of was well planned and prepared for my trip to Australia. I was super excited, so I wanted to make sure that I had everything. And I did, except for…a travel adaptor. I arrived in Sydney, only to find out that my UK and US friendly devices would not charge there because the same power outlet was not used. So for my first nights, my devices were on “low energy” mode until I was eventually able to find a travel adaptor.
4. Something to keep you warm
You learn to understand the value of this when you happen to be freezing cold in an 8 hours flight.
The Story: I can’t remember where I was going, but I am certain it was to a warm country because I purposely did not pack any warm clothing. However, I overlooked the fact that sometimes the planes are a bit chilly, and you can’t always control the temperature. In certain aircrafts, you are able to adjust the temperature just above your seat, but not in others. So I was literally there for 8 hours, turning around myself, wondering what kind of life this was. Worse, there were no covers available on the plane. I had to force myself to sleep, that was the only way to endure this. Don’t be like me.
Since then, I make sure to always travel with a shawl or a cover and socks, just in case. Be like me.
5. A change of underwear
You learn to understand the value of this when you’re stuck in transit in a country for 5 days.
The Story: I was traveling to Dominica with my sister, and that was going to be our longest trip. My mother, packing expert and traveler extraordinaire, advised that we put some underwear in our carry-on bags, just in case. The late teenager that I was took pride in arguing about how silly the idea was, and despite how affirmative I was and how independent I wanted to be perceived, Mom always knows best. And she did. We ended up being stuck in transit in Brazil for 5 days with no access to our luggages, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have listened to my mom then. Mom is always (99.9%) right, and that’s good enough. The remaining 0.1% matters not.
6. A Good Book
There is no story behind this, I just think it’s important to have other options in case in-flight entertainment is not satisfying enough.
Also, traveling is a great opportunity to catch up on work (if you’re that ambitious) or meet your reading goals (4 books/year, anyone?).
7. Snacks for Days
You learn the value of this when you have no money (or rather not spend any) on airport goodies and you start to starve on the plane.
Japanese Green tea biscuits, Egg sandwich and yours truly, a Clementine!
The Story: this happened to me once. Because I was taking a short flight, I didn’t feel the need to purchase any food at the airport. However, the flight had some delays and instead of the initially planned 2 hours, it ended up being a bit more than that (waiting time included). And a hungry passenger is a cranky passenger. Since then, I always make sure to have something to eat and drink on the plane, even if my flight is only 50 minutes.
8. Important Medications
You learn the value of this when you get sea-sick on the ferry and there is nothing to offer you a quick fix.
The Story: I was traveling to St Lucia for the first time, and I was very excited because it was also my first time taking a ferry ride. I never, in a million years, anticipated being sea-sick. 15 mins into the ferry ride, I felt like waves of water were moving through my belly and well… anyone who has eve been sea-sick, you know what happens next. The ferry assistants didn’t have any medications or anything at all to alleviate this (which I found strange and unfortunate for me), but I was given a small mint candy in the hope that it would help. Luckily, it did. Since then, I not only take sea-sickness medications prior to any ferry ride, but I also load my bag with mint and eucalyptus candies. Never me again.
The same can apply for flu, headaches, cramps or nausea tablets.
9. An Awesome Lip Balm
You learn the value of this when you get “chapped lips” on the plane.
Lucas Pawpaw Ointment, Australia’s favourite, now mine.
The Story: Anyone who has ever had chapped lips can identify with this, really. The only difference is, you’re on a plane, and as such you can’t exactly run to a pharmacy to get a lip balm or cream. If you don’t have one on you, you’re in deep trouble. I was flying to the UK when I learned that lesson the hard way, and that was a very uncomfortable experience. Since then, I always have at least one lip balm in my bag.
10. For ladies only: touch up makeup!
(This last point is optional, debatable and really, up to each person)
First and foremost, I don’t usually wear makeup when I travel, simply because my skin needs to rest, just like my body:) Plus, you can’t really sleep well when you have makeup. Also, who cares what you look like when you’re on the plane? Certainly not the person next to you who is either sleeping, watching movies or working.
However, for me, it’s a good idea to have some makeup at hand because I generally start my day as soon as I land (sightseeing, meetings, conference, etc.) and I don’t always have time to get to the hotel/ accommodation to touch up, etc. So having some supplies at hand help. Now, let me just clarify that this is not going to be a full contouring super lashes or crazy glamorous kind of makeup: just some light powder, blush or lipstick would do. But honestly, some days, I really can’t be bothered. Take me as I am.
And you, what do you think should be included in your carry-on?