12 items to pack in your carry-on bag

what to pack in a carry-on
Packing the wrong items such as bed sheets, pillows, cooking utensils, and more only adds unnecessary weight to your luggage, which is the last thing you want. Source: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Planning to study abroad? Once you’ve secured your student visa and packed your suitcase, the next item on your agenda would be figuring out what to pack in a carry-on (if you’re still figuring out what to pack in your suitcase, check out our article here).

Your carry-on is another piece of luggage that is essential in ensuring you enjoy a smooth journey. You’ll want to make ensure that you’re packing all the essentials, especially if you’ll be on a long-haul flight.

As your carry-on has a low weight limit, everything you pack in this piece of luggage matters. Items such as a thick bath towel, excessive clothing and cooking utensils add unnecessary weight.

If you’re unsure about what to pack in a carry-on, fret not, as we’ve prepared a checklist for you:

what to pack in a carry-on

Your carry-on is just as important as your check-in luggage. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

What to pack in a carry-on: The ultimate checklist

1. Face mask

Pack a few extra face masks on your carry-on in case the one you’re wearing gets soiled or to switch to a fresh mask after wearing the same one for long hours.

2. Original/photocopied travel documents

Apart from bringing original travel documents with you on your carry-on, you might want to consider making some extra copies of your travel documents as a backup.

3. Travel pillow

Flying for long hours? It’s useful to carry a travel pillow — it allows you to sleep comfortably and prevent neck strain.

If you’re worried about the limited space in your carry-on, fret not, as many travel stores now sell inflatable travel pillows that can be easily stowed away when you’re not using them.

4. Spare clothes and underwear

Another handy item to pack in your carry-on is fresh clothes and underwear that you can easily change into during your flight.

They also come in handy in the event your check-in luggage gets delayed or lost and you need some fresh clothes to change into.

5. Spare charger or a power bank

Our mobile phones have become an indispensable tool of the 21st century — we use them for checking in, banking, QR payments, as a map, and to keep up entertained, among others.

This makes it essential that you carry a power bank or a spare charger in your backpack or carry-on to last you your entire journey.

The last thing you want is to arrive in an unfamiliar country without a dead phone.

what to pack in a carry-on

A masked passenger is seen getting his luugage down from the overhead compartment following a flight from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California. Source: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America/Getty Images Via AFP

6. Contact lens case and contact lens solution

Are you a contact lens wearer?

Remember to pack your contact lens casing as well as some contact lens solution on your carry-on, in addition to your glasses in case you need to remove your lenses.

7. Medicine

The last thing you want is to go on a long-haul flight without any medication, which makes it critical that you carry them with you for easy access.

This could include paracetamol, allergy medicine, sleeping pills and antacid.

8. Hand sanitiser

You might want to consider packing a small bottle of hand sanitiser (do check how much you’re allowed to bring!) and some sanitising wipes to clean surfaces such as the aeroplane table, lavatory, and window.

9. Earplugs

These devices are a lifesaver, especially if you’re an incredibly light sleeper or there’s a crying infant on your flight.

10. Spare locks

If you’re using a lock on your suitcase, you’d want to carry a spare key with you on your carry-on.

11. Toiletries

Carry some toiletries with you on your flight, such as a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, a small bottle of face wash, deodorant, and, for females, some feminine products.

Do your due to diligence by checking how much liquids you’re allowed to bring on the plane.

12. Some spare cash

You’re probably familiar with the saying, “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.”

Travel advisories encourage travellers to carry their cash with them, rather than checking them in, but you’ll want to divide your money into different places for safekeeping.

Apart from your handbag or anti-theft backpack, some travellers also favour under-clothing storage such as undershirts with built-in pockets for safe storage.

We hope this checklist gives you a better idea of what to pack in a carry-on. If you want more space in your carry-on, here are a few tips: don’t pack physical books (opt for e-books!); don’t pack bulky clothes and jackets; use cases and containers that are compressible.