Air travel: what do you really need to carry on?

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Lighten your air travel load with one carry-on and these packing tips.

Ever wonder if the travelers who sail past the airport security with one carry-on know something you don't? They do. They know that overpacking is human nature. They've answered the question 'What do you really need to carry on?,' and they've edited items from their air travel carry on without mercy. You can, too.

If you plan to check a bag, you only really need a handful of items in your air travel carry on luggage. It's a good idea to carry on a lap top computer and any electronic gadgets, though generally your lap top will count as a separate carry-on. To help you decide which items to check and which to carry on, write out a packing list. Consider the possibility of your checked suitcase getting lost and **star** the most essential items you'll need.

Edit these items until they all fit into your air travel carry on.

Here are the few items you should carry on:

* Wallet
* Small notebook and pen
* Undergarments
* Deodorant
* Chargers for electronics
* Small jacket or pull over
* Bottle of water, purchased once you're through security
* Socks
* Toothbrush
* Toothpaste
* Flight entertainment (your book or music)
* Any travel size toiletry (to prevent leakage)
* Snacks
* All travel information including a list of hotel and transportation phone numbers, addresses and any confirmation numbers
* One change of clothes
* Sunscreen and sunglasses
* Bandaids
* Swimsuit or hat&gloves - depending on climate

How to travel with one bag

Even though airlines are beginning to charge for carry ons (in addition to checked bags) and the overhead compartment space is never large enough to accommodate two maximum-sized carry-ons for every passenger, travelers continue to stuff their luggage to the limit. Challenge yourself to pack light the next time you travel.

While there once was a time when 'just in case' could justify an extra bag of clothing for every climate, that time is gone. Overpacked carry-ons are security blankets - expensive, inconvenient security blankets. It's time for travelers to make a personal packing list. Determine what items you really need and commit to this list. Revise it only as the nature of your travel or climate changes. If you're hiking, there's no need to bring dress shoes.

Unless you are traveling for an extended period, you can fit everything you'll need on your travels into one carry on. You'll save money and have more mobility because you'll exert less energy transporting one bag instead of two.

According to, the worst time to decide what you are going to pack is while you are packing. Take a look at the above list of carry-on items. Add one pair of pants and two tops, and choose clothes that can be mixed and matched together. Plan to layer the clothes you'll wear on the plane with a thin shirt and the heaviest top you plan to pack to save space in your air travel carry on.

Pack and repack the items on your personal packing list until you can fit all of your essential items in one carry on without going over your airline's weight limit. Use a large-ish purse, handbag or man-purse to transport any items you'll want during the flight. Note that your purse needs to be small enough to fit under your seat or it will count as a carry-on. Check your airline's website for specific size restrictions on purses.

Welcome to the world of packing light! Freeing and flexible, you can enjoy the anticipation of your destination without the stress and burden of overpacking.


One Bag

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