common carry-on mistakes - rolling luggage in sun

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Preparing for an upcoming flight entails planning and preparation that can be stressful in itself. Packing and making sure you have all the items you need for your trip can be difficult because you would not want to reach your destination only to realize you forgot something vital.

Most aircraft have travel guidelines of what you can and cannot travel with, which can dictate what areas you compromise on for your journey. After all, who wants to be stuck in a line and have their belongings searched by TSA? 

This article highlights some common carry-on mistakes and ways to better prepare for an upcoming journey.

1 - Not checking the flight carry-on guidelines

Aircraft carriers set guidelines of what is allowed on their aircraft based on the company policy and even the travel destination. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), also known as airport security, has general standards of what is allowed versus what is not, which is common to all flights. 

Another factor to be mindful of is your aircraft’s policy on size and weight limits on luggage, both carry-on and checked. Nobody enjoys the hassle of rearranging their belongings while waiting in line or having to pay a fee for excess baggage. 

It is recommended that you visit your aircraft carrier’s website and review their policy and guidelines for pieces of luggage ahead of time as you prepare for your trip to avoid surprises when you are at the airport. 

2 - Over-packing

Most of us experience the anxiety of the “what if I end up needing this?” phenomenon which prompts us to pack above and beyond what we really need. Not only does this get overwhelming to keep up with on your journey, but you would also be stuck with a bulky, heavy bag full of unnecessary things. 

A good strategy to save yourself the burden would be to make a list of general items (e.g. toiletries, electronics) and items you would need for each day, like outfits. If you can reuse things such as shoes, it would save you space and weight in your luggage that could be better utilized.  

3 - Piling belongings in the bag

A significant space thief is the disorganization of your belongings. Piling clothes and scattered items take up more space than is needed and make finding things a challenge. This also increases the likelihood of you forgetting all that you packed to begin with. 

Pack your bag to maximize the availability of space and make things convenient for yourself. Rolling clothes save a ton of space, and another hack is to use compression bags. These are reusable and are a handy tool for any kind of travel. 

Organize other items to where they are located in one place. For example, toiletries could be in one case and things like socks in one area of the bag. This avoids things being scattered and saves you the trouble of digging for things. 

4 - Packing liquids or medications 

Packing liquids can be tricky, especially in your carry-on bag. The TSA allows for a maximum of 3.4oz sized containers. It is recommended that you pack any liquids in a checked bag whenever possible.

When packing liquids, be sure to have a sealed container. A good tip is to place any bottles or containers in a resealable bag in case there is a spill or leak. The rest of your belongings would not be ruined by liquid content. 

Packing medication prompts easy access. Avoid using boxes whenever possible and use resealable bags to save space and increase the ease of identifying the contents of the bag. If you need frequent access to medication, have it packed last, or in an external pocket.

5 - Packing electronics at the bottom of the bag

Any item containing lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries should be in a carry-on bag when possible. We all want easy access to our electronics when traveling and most airport security checkpoints require that electronics be passed through the scanner separately. 

A common mistake is to have electronics buried under other belongings in a checked bag, making the removal and repacking of those items a nightmare at busy checkpoints. 

Ways to make access easier is to pack electronics at the easiest access point of your luggage, and for bigger items like laptops, using a bag designed to carry it with a pocket for the specific purpose is efficient, and a good investment for future travel. 

6 - Not bringing water or snacks

Traveling can be tiring, and often, a proper meal is unlikely besides the snacks offered on the flight (depending on the airline) or waiting until you reach the next airport. Packing snacks is a great idea in case you experience delays and can also save you some money from not having to pay for overpriced food.

While there are limitations on liquids allowed on board, a neat hack of beginning a reusable bottle can go a long way. You can refill it as you go and can store as much as you need past the security checkpoint. 

7 - Bringing unnecessary amenities

When traveling, we sometimes forget to account for all that is available at our destination. For example, things like hairdryers, clothing irons, and towels take up a lot of space, and are more often than not provided by most hotels. 

Preparation and some research ahead of time about your destination can save you the hassle of unnecessary packing. 


Written by
Shenella Karunaratne, Staff Writer

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