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What to Pack in a Carry-On for International Flights

Packing your luggage for a domestic or international flight is stressful but knowing what to pack in your carry on for an international flight is just as hard. You need to make sure you have all essential items as well as entertainment for the plane ride or in the event that there are flight delays once you’ve made it to the airport.

In this post, we’ll share some information about what you need to bring on your carry-on to protect against inconveniences, like flight delays (which is a whole other rabbit hole that could have you asking yourself is flight compensation worth it?).

Besides flight delays, we help assist with everything from getting you out the front door to landing at your final destination. Let’s start with the basics of packing your carry-on luggage.

The Basics

These are the items you need. What we mean is, you can expect to create more problems for yourself by neglecting them. Well, at least the first three.

Choose Your Luggage

Bringing a carry-on along with you starts with a few key considerations. First, you need to check in on the regulations of your airline and then, you need to review your options.

When trying to figure out what to pack in your carry on for an international flight, the last thing you want is to have the wrong suitcase. The worst thing that can happen is being separated from your carry-on because of poor planning or a lack of attention to detail. If you arrive at the airport and you are forced to check your carry-on because it violates the restrictions, whether size or weight-related, it will get you off on the wrong foot.

So, before we even get into what to put inside your carry-on, we recommend starting with deciding what bag you are bringing.

Travel Documents

This is a no brainer, of course! We recommend including it in your carry-on, at least when you are first gathering your things, because of how important it is!

Your passport, ID, or VISA will be required in order for you to enter your destination country. When you are deciding what to pack in your carry on for an international flight, make sure your documentation is one of your top priorities. By placing it in your carry-on during the planning stages you can guarantee that it won’t be misplaced, or worse, forgotten.

We want to stress that placing these documents in your checked bag would be a mistake because you won’t gain access to your checked luggage until after the immigration process. By starting with it in your carry-on, you guarantee that it won’t get far away from you.

Electronics and Other Entertainment

These days, electronic devices have done their best to replace most of what you would need to bring with you. Your boarding pass, music, and books might all be housed on the same device.

For that reason, we feel that chargers for those devices, and even a portable battery, are a must when deciding what to pack in your carry on for an international flight. International travel can be a lengthy process with plenty of potential bumps in the road, and you don’t want one of them to be a dead battery. These bumps might even lead to canceled flights and compensation for you, but you can cross that bridge when you get to it.

The beauty of modern electronics is that they aren’t bulky, so bringing them along with you will be a breeze.

A Good Book

With that said, nothing beats a good book, and nothing is as reliable as a good book. It’s always there, ready to be consumed. The hallmark of international travel is the lack of control you have, especially if you are dealing with connecting flights, inclement weather, or any other factor that can delay your flight.

Common sense is at play too, however. Packing smart is one of our foundational airport travel tips. For that reason, we recommend you leave the hefty hardcover novel at home and, instead, opt for a slimmer paperback or an electric reader that won’t demand so much space. The last thing you want to do when figuring out what to pack in your carry on for an international flight is take up unnecessary space that could be used for more important things.

Comfort Essentials

Now that we are beyond the essentials we can get down to the good stuff. There are things you need when traveling internationally, such as travel documents, cash, and a mobile phone. It’s the things you don’t need, but choose to bring along, that will bring your travel experience from good to great.

A Comfortable Pillow

Airplanes aren’t built for comfort. That much is simple. Unless you are up in first class, you will need to help yourself out by bringing the things you need. One of those things is a comfortable pillow.

Flying international, regardless of destination, requires a significant time commitment. You would be amazed at how big of a difference a nice neck pillow can make. Depending on what type you choose, it will only take up a corner of your carry-on. Once you are on the plane and settled in you won’t regret that decision for a moment.

Your Most Comfortable Sweatshirt

When you fly international your carry-on could be your only resource of comfort for a long stretch, from a few hours up to a few days in the worst-case scenario.

Because of this, we think it’s worth packing a comfortable sweatshirt when deciding what do pack in your carry on for an international flight. Just like a comfortable pillow, a sweatshirt can provide a slight relief of comfort on an otherwise uncomfortable flight. If the flight gets a little chilly, you have your sweatshirt to turn to, as well. If you are caught up at the airport due to delays, you can throw it on and get comfortable like you would at home. Except, you’re at an airport. You get the point!

A Water Bottle and A Snack

Take note of the restrictions here, especially when going through security. The reality is, however, that airports really jack up prices and, if possible, you should avoid paying them.

An empty, reusable water bottle can be carried through security and most airports will have filtered water stations within the gates for you to fill up. Bringing a small snack can go a long way when you start to get an appetite but don’t want to splurge on an 18-dollar Ceaser salad.

Ear Plugs or Headphones

There aren’t many places quite like an airport. They are busy, all the time, and they aren’t exactly the least stressful places in the world either. If you plan on listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook during your trip, you likely already have headphones with you. They will help block out the noise and keep you grounded. If headphones aren’t in your plans, earplugs will serve a similar purpose.

TravelRefund to the Rescue: Delayed or Cancelled International Flights

If you follow the above list, it’s unlikely that you will have any self-induced issues on your journey. Knowing what to pack in your carry-on for international flights can help prevent added stress that can arise at any moment during your travels. However, flight delays and cancellations happen for reasons totally out of your control. We understand that when leaving the country and traveling the globe, more variables are introduced into the travel equation. If you experience extensive delays that become cancellations and would like to learn more about your rights as a passenger or file a compensation claim, we want to help you throughout the process.

Defending Your Rights to Compensation

Understanding your rights as a passenger is the first step. If an inconvenience presents itself in the form of flight delays or cancellations, there are steps to take to ensure you get what you are owed.

If you are interested in learning about these rights and what your options are, read our blog with tips for flying internationally.