10 things to always carry on

There are many benefits to travelling light, namely avoiding the hassle of heaving heavy luggage around and to have a little spare room to collect exotic souvenirs and presents (mainly for yourself) to bring home.

If you’re only going on a short trip and can avoid checking in luggage altogether, you also have the added bonus of not having to wait for your baggage after your flight and dodging the chance of your bags being lost.

There are some trips when you can’t cram all your belongings into a carry on suitcase, however, and are faced with the need to check in luggage. While in these instances it can be tempting to stuff everything in your suitcase and skip on board with little other than your passport, if you and your bags do part ways, this leaves you up a certain creek without the proverbial paddle.

Here are 10 things I’ve (sometimes) learned the hard way to always carry in you hand luggage:

1.     Passport and all other important documents

Ok so we’re starting out with the obvious, but having all your ID, bank and other important cards and documents on you, ensures if your bags go missing they won’t disappear with them and you can still pay for things and survive at your destination.

2.     Itinerary

This isn’t always as obvious but having a hardcopy of your itinerary, including all details such as flight numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc. means you’re less likely to be stranded in an unfamiliar foreign place with no way of knowing where you’re going. At the very least, a written address and phone number for your accommodation will avoid a desperate search for free wifi when you’re fresh off the plane.

3.     Chargers, cables & adaptors

Sure, it’s easier to pack these in your checked bag, but what happens when your flight gets delayed and your phone dies. Or you arrive at your destination sans luggage and can’ t plug your Australian charger into the foreign power outlet? Trust me on this one… I’ve learned the hard way and it’s easier to just carry all essential cords and adaptors with you.

Side note: I always carry my valuable electronics with me too, just thinking of the headache being separated from my laptop would cause is enough to make it worth ithe extra weight.

4.     Medication

Another fairly straightforward one that’s easy to overlook. Never assume you’ll be able to replace medication, particularly that of the prescription type, in another place or country.

5.     Essential toiletries

I know, I know, the liquids limitations. While it may seem easier to carry as few as possible with you, when you arrive at your accommodation without any bags to unpack, it may not. What defines essential? For me I always like to have small amounts of products that enable me to wash my face, brush my hair, clean my teeth, smell nice and put on natural looking makeup.

These essentials can tide you over for a few days until you’re hopefully reunited with your luggage or can replace the items at a leisurely pace – probably not something you feel like doing the minute you step off a plane. A piece of advice: don’t ever underestimate how much fresher one can feel after simply brushing their teeth.

6.     Spare underwear

I’m going to put one mental image in your mind; wearing the same underwear for three days straight. In the words of your mum, always wear clean underwear, you never know when you’ll have an accident. Enough said.

7.     A pen

Another obvious item that’s often overlooked. Very handy for filling out landing and boarding cards, writing your memoirs on the back of a serviette J. K. Rowling style in case of delay, or giving attractive strangers your phone number.

8.     Noise cancelling headphones

Ok so these do not HAVE to be noise cancelling, but I would argue that once you have used headphones of the noise cancelling variety, you’ll appreciate how quiet they make travel. The point, of course, is that you should never assume an airline will have headphones that work and serviettes stuffed in your ears will not drown out that crying baby for the next 12 hours.

Also useful if you end up in accommodation which isn’t sound proof, headphones or ear plugs will enable you get some sleep (always good after a long flight) and allow you to block out the world at crucial points so you can quote The Castle and say “how’s the serenity”.

9.     Something to eat

A tip I personally try to follow everyday, never underestimate when hunger may strike or how much it can affect you. Hangry is a real emotion that, as one famous chocolate bar commercial points out, can turn you into the worst version of yourself. Obviously there are restrictions on food when flying but a sneaky stash of nuts or amuesli bar never hurt anyone and has potentially saved a few lives I feel.

10.  A large scarf (and change of clothes)

I realise this may not come naturally to males but a scarf is to a mere mortal what a cape is to a superhero. The point I’m trying to make is a large scarf can transform into a blanket on cold planes (all of them in my experience), act as a pillow, be fashioned into a dress or sarong, or even replace a towel – ok we’re getting really desperate now but you get the drift.

I never travel without a large scarf and would highly recommend one of the Knotty Turkish Towels that look enough like a scarf to wear as one but ARE actually a towel. As a fashion obsessed lady (maybe?), when travelling internationally I always try to layer my clothes or take a few spare items, as the idea of wearing the same outfit for more than one day is as frightening to me as flying itself!

Am I missing anything? What did you learn the hard way to always carry in your hand luggage?

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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