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Packing Your Carry On

May 27, 2010

I try to carry on my luggage as often as possible.
Waiting in baggage claim after a long flight is not always the most fun activity, and I like the assurance that I can control where my luggage ends up. (how many of us have had lost luggage try to put a dent in our vacation? Or make returning to work that much less fun?)

And considering that just about every airline around has started charging for having your bags checked, carrying on a small suitcase, duffle, or weekender continues to sound better and better!

Carry-On Luggage Tips:

Add a Tag: Add a baggage tag with – at the very least- your name and phone number. Even though you will be with-in reach of your bag (hopefully) for the entirety of your trip, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions. I can think of dozens of ways this may come in handy during travels – but many of them are huge, semi-scary “what-if’s” and with my flying out this evening, I’d like to just keep my head on the positive. [I will say this, however. Having watched the pilot & finale of Lost last weekend, I am feeling my first twinge of pre-flight anxiety – ever. I am a fairly experienced flyer, but that darn Oceananic flight 815 has been on my mind so heavily this week that I am starting to feel like a newbie.]

Gate Check: Especially during busy flying times (holidays) and over-booked flights you may find yourself face with an opportunity to check your bag at the gate. I am fairly certain I’ve checked my bag at the gate every time I’ve flown to Dallas, and it is so convenient! The airline counter employee takes you bag and tags it with a gate checked tag, and then stows it either under the plane after all the other luggage is loaded, or in a luggage stow away compartment elsewhere. When you arrive at your destination, you just wait at the plane for your luggage to be handed to you. I’ve never waited more than 3 minutes, and the best part is- it’s FREE.

Be considerate: If you are seated in row 27 don’t stow your bag above row 6 unless the flight attendant suggests it because there is no other space for your bag. The people in row 6 need a place to store their luggage as well, and do you really want them holding up the line of people getting off the plane after you land because they had to walk all the way back to find where their luggage was stored? That’s just silly.

Don’t be proud: Ask for help. As someone who travels alone more often than not, let me assure you: It’s okay to politely ask a flight attendant, or a perfect stranger, to help you reach your bag, make room for your bag, hold your coffee while you lift your bag over your head, etc. Don’t try to do it all alone or you will end up hitting someone in the face, spilling your coffee all over yourself or your seat mate, or dropping something that doesn’t belong to you. Just make sure you say thank you, and mean it.

Most often I pack in my red crock weekender for my carry on and a messenger bag for my personal item. The messenger bag I use is a lot bigger than any of my purses, but still fits nicely under the seat in front of me.

I do have some specific “must-do’s” when it comes to preparing my messenger for trip taking.

Two must have items: Disinfecting wipes & a pashima/scarf. The blankets on planes aren’t washed as often as you may like, and the tray tables aren’t getting wiped down after every flight. To prevent the spreading of germs, carry a little packet of moistened disinfecting wipes and wearing a pashima while you travel to cover up with if you get chilly. I’ve also balled up a scarf and used it as a pillow while flying. (the same goes for the hoodie/cardigan/coat I wear on the flight. Makes a great blanket or pillow when needed!)

Double pack: Within my messenger bag, I also pack my purse and my netbook bag with accessories pouch. Not only does this keep the messenger organized and help me to find things I may need quickly (ID, money, etc.) but it is also a nice way to pack what I may need on the trip. When I’m in Madison, I won’t be carrying my messenger bag everywhere with me – but there are times I’ll want to take my netbook somewhere and will be able to use my computer bag with the accessories pouch.

Check now, speed through later: Before you leave the house, go through your bag one extra time looking for things that maybe pulled out in security. Forget those nail scissors are in your purse and you are not only going to lose them, but also be slowed down through your getting to the gate. Same goes for anything liquid (or even liquidish) over 3oz or not in your 3:1:1 bag .

Imagine your take off: While you pack your carry on, imagine the first 10 minutes of sitting in your seat on the airplane, and the first 10 minutes of take off. What are the things you are going to want immediately? Keep things like gum, water, your book or magazine, and your iPod in an easily accessible front pocket of your personal item to avoid having to annoyingly pull your bag out every 2 minutes, knocking elbows with your row partner.

Even further: As soon as I sit down, before I stow my messenger under the seat in front of me, I take out what I am sure to want and put it in the seat pocket in front of me. Easy access comes in handy when I need a snack, fresh piece of gum, or something to distract me from screaming 4 year olds.

More traveling tips will be coming from me through out the extra long weekend – but for now check out Erin’s awesome airport etiquette post from a few weeks ago and tell me – What’s one thing you MUST have with you in flight? Are you a magazine reader, a pretzel snacker, or a napper? Do you purchase a new book to read for each trip, or reread old favorites? I can’t wait to hear what you all do while in the air!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kyra permalink
    May 27, 2010 12:00 pm

    A new book, a bottle of water and my pashmina are all musts!

  2. May 27, 2010 5:18 pm

    I, too, am a carry-on queen. In fact, people marvel at how quickly and effectively I can get multiple days worth of clothes etc. into two 2’x3′ bags. I think the key here is the old mix and match and layering. I am pretty big on bringing a couple of jackets and pant options that can totally change the look of an outfit. Also, I usually wear the same thing home. Perhaps this is why I have yet to meet my future husband in an airport??

    I learned my effective packing routine after having to re-arrange mid-aisle during boarding. I shoved two running outfits into my bag I stowed in front of me. Post “the use of approved electronics” in flight, I tried to pull out a buried book and there went my sports bra. Across the aisle. Onto the feet of a teenage boy. Yeah.

    I once heard on Oprah that you should never wear pantyhose on planes, or bare legs or open-toed anything in case of crash and burn. For that reason, I may or may not appear to be heading to Antarctica every time I pass through security.

    Can’t live without? Hmm..books a plenty, a trashy magazine or two and the old iPod. I am a sucker for buying books in the (overpriced) airport book stores, then never reading them. Perhaps this contributes to the credit card dilemma??

    Happy flight!

  3. May 27, 2010 5:58 pm

    Did I tell you about the time I spent 12 hours sitting next to a Buddhist monk on a plane?
    The smell of incense lingers for hours. LIKE THE ENTIRE PLANE TRIP!
    But he was so freaking adorable, didn’t know much english and we (my fellow passengers) all bonded over getting the cute wee monk (in traditional garb) through US customs during our stop over in Honolulu.
    Nothing like helping a monk complete his customs declaration and getting to the question “have you every been convicted of a crime, and/or incarcarated”. And then having to translate that into simple english. For a man whose native country is Nepal. I just shrugged and checked “no”.
    Did I mention this was a stop over. For less than an hour. At 12:30AM?

    We all breezed through Customs, and then stood there giving the mean Customs official the evil eye for his incessant questioning of the cute wee monk. I think we scared the customs man. I would have been scared of me. I give a GOOD evil stare. and it was the middle of the night. AND they’d made me take of my freaking flip flops to walk through security. Clearly, Hawaii did not give me the happy clap vibes.

    And my luggage contained two diggeridoos and an ornamental sword?

    And I breezed through customs and they stopped the wee nepalese monk.

    Clearly, they had no idea who the actual threat was to their country.

    Did I mention David Suzuki was also on our flight?

  4. May 27, 2010 7:45 pm

    I always buy a new book for a trip, but I try to stick to a trusted author (or get a recommendation from a trusted friend), so I have a lower chance of disliking the book. I bring a magazine too in case I finish the book, or for layovers and other short time periods when I might need something to keep me busy.

    I too, have started putting things in the seat pocket, however I have a terrible time remembering to get my stuff out before I leave. I have lost several magazines and a book in that way.

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