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Travel Tip: The Perfect Carry-On

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The ideal carry-on will be small, lightweight, and serve two purposes: provide you with anything you need during travel and anything you will need if your luggage makes a detour through Boston while you are on your way to Amsterdam. When packing a carry-on, keep these things in mind:

Size, Weight and Number

I know you’ve probably seen people rolling huge suitcases through the airports with their laptop bags strapped to the top. Sometimes the combined size of these bags rivals that of a small child, but I do assure you that however seemingly unenforced, airlines do have size restrictions Carry on Baggagefor carry-ons luggage. All airlines have their own policies, but generally maximum size is measured by a single number – the sum of the total dimensions (L x W x H). For example, a common size limit is 45″ on domestic flights, which could be any combination of dimensions (eg. 24 x 14 x 9). Most airlines also allow for a single “personal item” in addition to one piece of carry-on luggage. Personal items would include things like laptops, cameras, umbrellas, purses, etc. Bear in mind that international airlines tend to be less lenient when enforcing their policies – which are often times more strict to begin with. Airlines also reserve the right to adjust their policies as they see fit, at any point in time, so be sure to check their website prior to each trip, noting their guidelines for size, weight and number of carry-on pieces. The last thing you want is to end up frantically unpacking and repacking on the floor of the airport to meet their airline’s restrictions.

In Case Your Bags Don’t Keep Up With You

It happens sometimes; you’ve landed in one city and your bags in another – if they even left the ground in the first place! While you may be sure this couldn’t happen to you, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right? So when you pack your carry-on, think about what you couldn’t possibly go without if you had to live out of only your carry-on for a few days. Pack one change of clothes, or for the sake of your team mates / family, at least pack a change of underwear! Make sure you include all medications you take; the last thing you want – on top of losing your luggage – is a health crisis. If you have any important documents or information (is someone meeting you at the airport? or do you have an address of the place you are going?) that you will need upon arrival, pack those as well. Chances are, everything goes smoothly, but you won’t regret being prepared.

During Travel

Yes, it is important that you maintain sanity during travel – especially if you have a day or more to spend between various planes and terminals. With any extra space and weight you have left, put in some things to keep you occupied – books, iPods, games – whatever you would enjoy. Unless you are particularly fond of airline food or can survive for long periods of time on peanuts, you may also want to throw in some snacks. Think: non-perishable items. Granola bars, dried fruit, and crackers are all great options. And just to be safe, make sure to travel with some cash. You never know when you’ll end up needing something you didn’t plan for, and sometimes a credit/debit card company will flag an out-of-country purchase as “suspicious” even if you let them know that you will be traveling.

DO NOT Pack These in Your Carry-on:

  • Sharp Objects
  • Flammables – No lighters. One book of safety matches allowed.
  • Explosives
  • Snow globes – No, I did not make this up. Check your snow globe or leave it at home.

If you are packing any kind of liquid, lotion, gel, etc. it must be in a bottle 3 oz. or smaller, and each bottle must be inside a single, clear, quart-sized plastic zipper bag. Only one is allowed per traveler. Traveling with a water bottle is a good idea, but leave it empty until you pass through the security checkpoint. Check out TSA’s website for updates and more detailed information.
If you keep your passport in your carry-on make sure to keep it easily accesible, yet well hidden – and never let your carry-on out of your sight.

When packing keep all of this in mind and also remember that you will be carrying this with you for the duration of your travel, so even if their is no weight limit, keep it light. You’ll thank yourself 20-30 hours into it.

Photo by mil8

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