Pack Smart: How to pack for extended travel (the carry-on bag)

A lot of people have been emailing me to ask about extended travel planning.  Most frequently, “What should I pack?!?!” Good question! I plan to dedicate a few posts over the next few weeks answering some of these questions  (and if you have any for me, feel free to ask, either in the comments section or via email).

Today I’m going to cover the easiest of the packing tasks, and tell you what I take in my carry-on bag. As I mentioned in this post, I used my trusty L.L.Bean Deluxe Book Pack as my carry-on for all of my travels thus far, but I recently purchased the Vera Bradley Metropolitan bag to use in the future.  Regardless of the bag itself, or the length of the trip for that matter, the contents of my carry-on generally stays the same.

The Office Supplies:
1.  Despite all the planning, preparing, and list-making, you’re bound to forget something. Just make sure it’s not your passport! As I leave my house, I always tell myself that it’s ok if I forget anything else, as long as I have my passport and a credit card!

2. Which brings me to item number 2, a well-organized wallet. I was lucky to receive a gorgeous Kate Spade wallet from my friends Sam & Kristy right before my trip, who even made sure that it fit a passport! In addition, there were several card slots, and divided compartments in the middle, where I could separate US currency and currency of the country I was visiting.  I definitely got a lot of use out of this.

3. I also took a folder to hold various documents, including transportation and lodging information, copies of Visas, etc.

4. Always bring a pen! With all the forms and embarkation forms to fill out, you’ll be glad you did. It’ll also come in handy for writing down addresses of restaurants, phone numbers of hostels, or emails of new friends.

5. In this day of digital everything, I get that a Magazine might seem downright old-fashioned. But there’s something about traveling, particularly being in an airport, that makes me crave them! It was nice to have some light reading material, not to mention the time to catch up on few back issues. Also, I just love Oprah.

The Fashion Accessories:
6. Sunglasses in a case.

7. A scarf, which is not only fashionable, but warm. Comes in handy on chilly airplanes.

8. A hat is always useful in sunny locations. I either wear mine, or store it in my carry-on bag  — mostly to prevent it from getting crushed in my suitcase.

9. You’re probably wondering why I’d put a swimsuit in a carry-on, since there’s little opportunity for swimming while in-flight. This is just one of my quirky personal preferences! It took me such a long time to find one that I loved that I didn’t want to chance losing it if the rest of my luggage was misplaced. (I know I could easily replace clothing, but a swimsuit would be much more challenging).

The Tech Gadgets:
10. A laptop (11″ Macbook Air). So I could update this blog!

11. A cell phone (iPhone 4S).

12. A point and shoot camera, with an extra battery.

13. A zippered pouch to hold all the wires and charges from the laptop, phone, and camera. I also brought a universal adapter with USB port, which I purchased 3 years ago, in-flight from SkyMall, for about $20 USD. Last but not least, a portable charger, which my friend MaryAnn had very thoughtfully given me as a gift – just in case my cell phone died in the middle of nowhere!

The Convenience Store:
14. A zip-lock bag with liquids (since I didn’t check luggage). I brought travel sized contact solution, shaving cream, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. I also had lipgloss and some makeup. Hey, travel’s no excuse not to look good!

15. I had another bag with tissues, and some meds that I brought just in case (Advil, Rolaids, Immodium, allergy pills).

16.  I brought several granola bars and individual packages of nuts as snacks.  They came in handy on long flights, or even as a light breakfast. These were also easy to replenish at local grocery stores once I went through my initial stash (and I got to try a variety of international snacks!). I also brought gum to help with my ears popping when the plane descended.

So there you have it! How does this compare to your carry-on bag? Did I leave anything out?

7 Comments on “Pack Smart: How to pack for extended travel (the carry-on bag)”

  1. My random early morning comments are as follows: 1) Yay- glad the wallet got to travel the world with you! 2) Kind bars are the best. 3) Despite the fact that I own a Kindle, I’m still looooove magazines. Yup, I have had a bit of a magazine addiction since I was about 12.

    Great post! xo

  2. That was a great list. Aside from the swim suit, my bag is almost identical. I put a pair of warm socks in my bag when I travel; great for when you take off your shoes at the TSA line and I like to take my shoes off while on the plane to get more comfortable. Evian water spray to hydrate my face after long flights or dry climates; plus a bottle of water. Small face towel in a baggie- I ask for hot water and have an instant hot towel to freshen hands and face in flight. Small bottle of hand sanitizer and my Ipod are all musts.

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