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What to pack in your carry-on and why!

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

After walking through Walt Disney World last October for 7 days, we were tired and sad to leave. We had gone a bit crazy with souvenirs because our trip coincided with the 50th Anniversary. So we checked our bags and were ready to make the long trip home. If you saw from last week's blog post ( this turned into a fiasco for us. If you're like us, we threw everything into different bags, anticipating sorting it out when we got home. Little did we know, we wouldn't be home that night!

So when we made it to Houston at 10:00 pm, we were able to find a motel close that wasn't outrageous in cost, but we had nothing with us - no contact solution, no toothbrushes or toothpaste, no change of clothes, and none of our medications. And it was at that exact moment that I recalled ALL the articles I've seen about making sure you take some necessities with you in your carry-on luggage.

Now that I have you doing a mental inventory of what you need to include in your bag, here are some ideas for you to think about. My biggest thing is not taking another suitcase with us to take those essentials and recognizing that being stranded overnight is not the norm. We'll chat next week about packing tips and tricks.

First, if you have medications you must take, put those in your carry-on. Depending on where you go, you may need to have the actual prescription bottle with the meds versus just putting what you need for the trip in a small container or Ziploc bag. This can take a lot of work to determine if you need this - researching each location, including the layover locations. A travel professional can help provide more details when you are planning your trip - especially if your medications are controlled prescriptions.

Next, think about what you need if you are stuck overnight. This could be contact solution and case, toothbrush/toothpaste, small deodorant, makeup, change of clothes (or just a change of socks and undies if you are tight on space and don't care), chargers for phones or watches, tissues, and hand sanitizer.

If you are traveling with children, this expands further. Depending on the age of your child, you may need to have a separate bag for them. My kids have always traveled with a backpack they take on the planes to include their necessities. Throw in a change of clothes for them, at least one of their stuffed animals they need to sleep with, and something to hold their attention when you need time to figure out your next steps. If your child is still in diapers, be prepared to have enough supply with you for that overnight as well.

I know you don't want to pack a huge bag, so think about efficiencies with these items. I love Colgate Wisps. These beauties are small toothbrushes with a bead of toothpaste built in. They maximize space and you can have multiple in a very small package. And while I'm not an advocate of makeup remover wipes, they do come in handy in emergencies. For your makeup, can you survive on just a tinter moisturizer and mascara in an emergency? And for babies, Little Remedies make this New Baby Essentials kit with smaller packaging for some items you may need.

We're heading to our next vacation soon and ran to Target the other night. I love the Travel Size Aisle - it's one of my favorites. I picked up a bunch of stuff for our carry-on. Before your next flight, take a trip down the aisle and see what you can pick up.


Woman Behind the Bear
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