The Travelling Guardian | Carry-on Travel Tips
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Carry-on Travel Tips

Carry On Travel Tips

Carry-on Travel Tips



Carry on policies can be very confusing and differ between airlines. You may have questions about how much you can bring on board, and is there an individual weight per piece or a combined weight policy? Are the measurements of the carry-on, length plus width plus height different for an individual bag when your allowed two pieces to carry on?  Is there a fee or not? Soooo..many questions and you haven’t even started your trip yet!…Please read up on the carry-on policy of the airline you are flying with. When you are prepared in advance it makes such a difference to your travel day. Smiles and excitement, instead of frustration. *Remember no two carriers may have the same policy.



True story.. I was flying from a tiny island in the Philippines to Manila. My only carry-on was a large overnight bag that weighed about 10 pounds. The agent asked me to step on the scale with my carry-on. Yup.. she wanted all of me on that scale with my teeny tiny carry-on…Fortunately, the scale weight did not set off any alarms and I was allowed to board. I’m thinking this was for the weight and balance of the aircraft. However, I am still wondering what if they told me I was 25 pounds overweight.. ??  Crash diet??


Make a list of everything you should bring along with you. On that list, start with the most important items first, passport, wallet, credit cards, drivers licence, a copy of insurance policy, medication, health card, hotel confirmation, etc. Please never pack your medications or any of these important items in your luggage. However, I do recommend that most of these items be packed in your smaller personal item instead of your larger carry-on.



My two must haves packed in my carry-on, are my toiletries (all travel size) and a change of clothes for one day. Nothing is worse than showing up at your destination and finding your bag is lost and you have to wear your travel clothes for the next couple of days..


For your long flights, pack soft foam disposable earplugs in your carry-on, they are comfortable to use, inexpensive and they block out noise around you when you’re trying to get some sleep or quiet time.


If you find that your flying more often, why not invest in noise cancelling headphones.


Bring a neck pillow that has a clasp that can attach to your bag.  Also, pack an eye mask in your carry-on and don’t forget your lip balm.


Take antibacterial wipes in your carry-on bag. To avoid germs, wipe down the movie screen, armrest, and meal tray.


Keep your laptop and your packed one-litre bag of liquids accessible so they are easy to pull out of your carry-on as both will need to be removed from your bag and put in a separate bin when going through security.


Carry-on bags that have an expandable middle are the most difficult to bring on board the aircraft and may not fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. It is really easy to overpack these types of bags, resulting in your regulation bag now being larger than the airline carrier allows. Your carry-on bag may be sold as an “airline approved bag” and usually there is no problem unless its overpacked.  I have seen many passengers repacking their carry-on at the check-in counter because their bag did not fit into the sizing device

Airlines usually have a metal frame sizing device or box and will expect your larger carry-on to fit in the device. This usually includes the complete bag, meaning your handle and wheels of your carry-on must fit in the airlines sizing device. The airline’s website will give you the measurements and give details as to what the policy is… Careful with that one as the handle and wheels are often overlooked. If you’re buying a new carry-on definitely consider the measurements of the complete bag.

You may have travelled with your carry-on and never had it looked at before… With smaller aircraft being used to certain cities and extra clothes worn for the winter season and people wanting to save money and not pay baggage fees, more airlines are re-enforcing their carry-on policy as more delays are occurring because of overpacked carry-on. Flights can be delayed because of last-minute destination tagging and stowing and the airlines want your flight to depart on time as we all do.


Pack a lightweight nylon mesh zippered bag in your carry-on. Just in case you have too much in your larger carry-on and you didn’t bring a second small bag with you. Now you can quickly repack and add additional clothes or books into this mesh bag.. and voila no need to worry about your larger carry-on.


Instead of paying for earbuds on your flight, save money and bring your earphones from home to watch the movies and listen to music on your flight.


You can power your devices onboard the aircraft so don’t forget your charging cord.


What I do to keep all my extras together in my carry-on, is to take a large clear pouch to store my earplugs. phone charger, pocketbook, playing cards, sudoku, Kindle etc. basically anything I need to use once the flight has taken off. It’s my adult goodie bag!  You could take a 2nd bag for those special snacks as well. Make sure to take it out of your carry-on before you stow it this way you will have everything you need without having to dig through your carry-on that is under the seat or in the overhead bin.



If you are at the gate and your carry-on has been identified as too large to be boarded with you, you will be offered to gate check your bag. Depending on the airline there could be a fee for this. There may be a request to volunteer your bag to be checked if so no fee would be charged. Your bag will most likely be checked to your final destination and stowed with the baggage in the cargo hold. Always have an identification tag on your carry-on with name and email address and forwarding address.


** If your carry-on is gate checked… This is an important reminder to always have your wallet, identification, laptop, tablet, medication, important papers in your personal item  (purse, briefcase) and not in your carry-on. Laptops contain lithium batteries which are not allowed as checked luggage.


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