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To Carry On, or Not to Carry On, That is the Question

Updated: 4 days ago

For many travelers, one of the biggest sources of stress comes down to that deathly looming (but necessary task) of PACKING. Packing, especially for moms who are more than likely packing for themselves and others, can feel like an overwhelming task. What do I pack? How much do I pack? What can I leave at home? Do I really need this...or this...or this?

These questions become particularly important when flying. Many airlines are tightening their rules on luggage making packing exactly what you need more important than ever. For many travelers, what they pack in their carry-on has become one of the most important aspects of traveling. While I can't be there to pack for you, I do have some amazing tips that can take you from THIS...


Before we get started on the good stuff, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. When selecting your carry-on baggage, I HIGHLY recommend a hard-shell suitcase with wheels that swivel 360 degrees. You will thank me for this when you are in the middle of a crowded airport. After all, no one wants to be the one struggling with people congestion AND a piece of luggage that WILL NOT move easily. Before you purchase something or head to the airport, make sure to check the dimensions of your suitcase. Know for a FACT that it will fit in the overhead compartment. Traveling alone with a little one? These ride on suitcases are GENIUOS! Seriously wish I had thought of these or they had existed with my kids were toddlers. I have yet to see an unhappy kid (or parent) with one of these magical items!

Now, without further ado, here are my top 10 essentials to pack in that ever-important piece of carry-on luggage!

Number 10 - Medication, Vitamins and Supplements

If you take it daily, you need it with you! While prescription medications do need to stay in their original containers, anything else can be popped into a handy 7-day pill box. Make sure you have enough with you to account for your travel day, plus 2-3 more days should something happen to your checked luggage. PRO TIP? For my lady travelers out there...the small boxes in a pill box double as storage for your jewelry! If your hands swell easily on an airplane, slip your rings off before take-off and keep them safe inside an empty box. Your fingers with thank you and you will know exactly where they are at all times!

Number 9 - Small Toiletry Bag

For this item, make the Target toiletry isle your new best friend! A small clear bag and a few grabs of travel size toiletries and you are good to go! I like to include a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, lotion, dry shampoo, tide stick or shout wipes, sanitizer and deodorant. If you have certain brands you like at home, Target also carries clear empty travel sized bottles you can fill with your own products. Just make sure to label them so you don't get confused on which is which. PRO TIP? Whenever you are traveling, grab the extra toiletries from your bathroom and keep a small stock in your house for just this occasion!

Number 8 - Something to Keep You Warm

If you have traveled before you know that the temperature struggle is REAL! Airports and airplanes alike can go from sauna to tundra without batting an eye. Wearing layers is always a great idea, but carrying a coat, your bag and track of whomever else you've brought along can sometimes be a challenge. Pack a light jacket, scarf or (if you have room) a small blanket in your carry on for those times when the temperatures leave you shivering. Personally, I LOVE to pack a beanie or toboggan in my carry-on bag. They roll up so small and are great for keeping you warm! After all, you lose up to 10% of your body heat through your head. It will amaze you how much warmer putting a hat on can make you! PRO TIP? If you are going somewhere cold, throw a pair of hand warmers in your bag. Pop those babies in your pocket as you exit the plane, and they will be nice and toasty by the time you reach your luggage and head for the exit!

Number 7 - Portable Charger

Nowadays, most airports have charging stations. But really, who wants to be cramped next to a bunch of strangers all fighting over the same four or five outlets? Portable chargers are compact, inexpensive and so easy to use! Most even have multiple sources of power to charge more than one device at a time! Simply charge it the night before and you are ready to roll the next day! PRO TIP? Get a charger that plugs DIRECTLY into the wall. No more carrying around multiple power cubes!

Number 6 - Headphones or Earbuds

No one wants to be stuck having a long travel day just to realize they can't listen to music, an audiobook, podcast or their favorite show to pass the time. Wired or cordless, earphones or buds, whatever your listening device of choice, make sure you have them with you! The day will go by much faster with a little something to keep you occupied, and your neighbor will thank you when they don't have to listen along. PRO TIP? If you are on a plane where they give out free earbuds, TAKE THEM! Even if you don't use them on this trip, stick them in your travel toiletry case for emergencies. If your battery doesn't hold up or you misplace your pair somewhere, you have a free backup!

Number 5 - Eye Mask

No, not the one that is supposed to work on those pesky under eye wrinkles, but the one that works on keeping the light out of your eyes! If you are planning a long flight, or just want to be left alone while you are in the air, having an eye mask is the way to go! Not only does it block out the light so you can get a little shut eye, but the flight attendants are also less likely to ask if you need a drink or snack when it is clear you would like to be left alone. PRO TIP? Buddy your sleep mask with a neck pillow and you will be off to dream land before takeoff!

Number 4 - Reusable Water Bottle

Carrying an EMPTY reusable water bottle with you will save you from paying top dollar for airport water after you are through security. I prefer a nice stainless steel water bottle. It keeps water colder longer, and there is no chance of crushing or breaking it in my bag. PRO TIP? Throw a few water flavor packets in your travel toiletry bag to give your water a little more umph!

Number 3 - A Pair of Warm Socks

Back to the temperature change situation. My feet are ALWAYS cold, and on flights, my feet AWLAYS swell. I love to pack a pair of warm fluffy socks to change into once I'm settled into my seat on a flight, especially if it's a long one. My toes stay nice and cozy and I never have to deal with the cramped foot feeling you get when your feet swell in your shoes. PRO TIP? Wrap your pill box inside your socks as you are packing. Pack two things in the same amount of space!

Number 2 - Travel Documents, Passport, ID, Credit Card and Cash

This one may seem like a no brainer, but everyday travelers are arriving at the airport and being denied boarding due to not having the right documentation. I like to have a small purse or wallet that ONLY holds these items, so they are quick and easy to grab every time I need them. A little bit of cash is always good to have on hand to tip porters or grab a quick snack before boarding your plane. PRO TIP? Make a photocopy of ALL your important documents (including the front and back of your ID and credit card) and pack them in your checked baggage. Should something happen to the originals, having these copies will make gathering replacements so much easier!

Number 1 - A FULL Change of Clothes

Things happen when you travel. Flights can be delayed; baggage can be lost. No one likes it, but it does happen. Being prepared can make a bad situation just a little bit better. Pack a COMOFORTABLE pair of clothes in your carry-on bag in case of one such situation. Longer than expected travel can feel a little better when you aren't sitting in the same clothes for more than one day. PRO TIP? Pack two pairs of underwear. Should your travel be delayed for a longer period of time, or something happen to your checked baggage, extra underwear never hurt anyone! It's one thing to wear the same sweater multiple days in a row, but somethings should be fresh daily!

Do you have a carry-on essential not listed above? Drop it in the comments below, and let's all share our tips together!



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