’tis the Season Guide to How to Best Pack Your Carry-Ons (and remember: don’t do what the priest does, only what he preaches!)

While I am really glad that for the next couple of months I don’t have to take my backpack anywhere, I know that the holidays are typically the season where most commoners (that is: people that don’t spend half the year backpacking) travel. I have noticed that people prepare for their trips in different ways. There are people (like my mom) who make very detailed lists before they pack their suitcases, spread the packing over several days, check and double-check that they really do have everything, and by the time they’re heading for the airport, everything is neatly organized in their suitcases and they haven’t forgotten a thing.

packing suitcase

There are also people (like my boyfriend) who start packing five minutes before they have to leave and in a wild session of organized chaos throw a bunch of random things in their backpacks. By the time they’re heading for the airport the inside of their bags is a mess, but strangely enough, they never seem to forget anything important.

And then there is people like me. I make a detailed list of things that I will need to buy for my travels, and another detailed to-do-list with tasks I should complete before I leave (I have just added “write a blog post about the typology of suitcase packing” on this list). I start packing and preparing days before my actual trip. However, I somehow always end up with a huge list of things that I still need to get or do, one day before I have to leave. By the time I head for the airport, I haven’t gotten half the things on my list, and forgotten the other half, in other words, I am a complete mess when it comes to preparing for my trips.

I don’t know how many times I checked my bags, and forgot to take out the book I wanted to read on the flight. Or, worse, forgot that I still had my mosquito spray in my carry-on bag. Something, I’d suggest you should avoid if mosquitoes tend to take a liking to you because, there is no convincing an airport official that you just won’t survive the jungle trip without that mosquito spray. Over the years and after many frustrating experiences, I have come up with a list of things that I know I want with me at all times, and that’s pretty much the only list that’s worked for me.

Chargers charger

I was flying to Germany a while ago to see my parents when they announced that my flight would arrive late. So just when I wanted send my parents an email that my flight had been delayed, I realized that my laptop wasn’t charged – and that I had put the charger in the checked bag. So make sure, all of the electronic devices you might need are charged and / or pack your charger (phone, laptop, mp3 player etc.) in your carry-on bag!

P.S. Until writing this post and searching on Google Images for a picture, I had no idea that Charger is actually a type of car!

P.P.S. You should also make sure that you have a converter with you if you travel internationally.

Booksbook

Nothing can be worse than leaving your Kathy Reichs thriller at home! I forgot to pack my book and had to wait 2 months before I could find out who the killer was. I realize that most of you probably don’t care too much about Kathy Reichs, but if you like reading on a plane or while waiting during your layovers, make sure you have the book you want to read in your carry-on bag.

Neck Pillowneck-pillow-10

I think after about one year of nagging and complaining about neck the pain, my boyfriend finally got the hint and bought me a neck pillow for Christmas. Even the most cozy plane seats can get uncomfortable after a couple of hours, and I really can’t stand the plane pillows that feel like somebody blew up an airbag under your head. So the neck pillow is an absolute must for ANY trip. I think if I had to choose 3 things to take on a lonely island, this neck pillow would be one of them!

Gumbad breath

Not every airline thinks about giving out toothpaste, so if you want to make sure you don’t smell like a mix of coffee and the airplane pasta dish, you should pack some gum or mints.

Socks

I know some people insist on keeping on their shoes at all times and are horrified of the idea of taking them off, or even worse, other people with possibly smelly feet doing it, but I really don’t see why anybody should have to wear their heavy boots for the entire duration of a 15 hour flight. So I always pack a pair of comfy woolen socks. In case you wonder, yes, my Grandma made them for me, and yes, I also make sure they are clean and smell like spring flowers!

Snacks

If I am on a flight with a cheap airline where a bag of peanuts costs $ 10, I always pack some food. You cannot take any liquids on a plane, but nobody will take away your food!

Getting out of the airport

You should always find out BEFORE you land how to leave the airport. This seems obvious, but I have also left airports assuming that there will probably be some bus that will take me where I need to go. Lesson to be learned: NEVER assume anything! Will somebody pick you up? Are there buses that can take you into town? How much are cabs? Do you want to rent a car? If you want to rent a car, you can actually save a lot of money if you compare rates and reserve a car in advance. If you fly within the US you might find RelayRides (car rental meets car sharing meets airport parking) useful. I just found out about this site recently, and haven’t actually used it yet, but it might be worth checking it out.

Print important documents

Coming into the US, I was welcomed by a big sign that said “the use of cell phones is forbidden”. This was especially unfortunate as I hadn’t printed my plane ticket for my flight out of the US. As I asked if I could just show them the ticket on my phone and started taking out my phone, the migration officer didn’t really appreciate it. Well, his exact words were: “What are you taking that out for??? Are you going to record me!!!” Recording a police officer is a felony in the US, so you really do not want to get them angry at you, especially if you are already sitting in the FBI interrogation room at the airport trying to explain that you really do NOT want to live in the US, and that you are very happy with being a resident of the European Union. Okay, this might not happen to anybody else but me. However, if you want to avoid any possible discussion with the officials, or if you forgot to charge your cell phone with all the important documents on it (and didn’t put your charger in the carry-on bag), print out anything that you think might be important, tickets, hotel reservations, rental car reservation, your friend’s address, your lawyer’s phone number, ANYTHING. Better safe than upsetting migration officers sorry!

angry officer

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