My carry on case plus the items I wear are planned. This is because these are my “emergency” clothes. The idea is if all I have is what I’m wearing and what’s in my carry on case, I could last a few days. Its not a lot of clothes, but its enough.

For the plane

What I wear

I will wear either the jeans or the extra pair of casual wear pants. If I am taking a heavier jacket, I will wear that one on the plane. A pashmina or scarf on the plane is also nice to keep drafts off your neck. If possible wear that, and put it in the carry on if you have to. If you can wear the slip on shoes on the plane, its usually more comfortable. If you can’t, wear the heaviest shoes, for me that would be my sneakers. All these items are from the previous list of what I take. So my “wear on the plane” clothes are:

  • jeans/yoga/casual pants,
  • tee shirt,
  • jacket,
  • pashmina/scarf,
  • and sneakers or slip on shoes.

The Carry On

The carry on case is about need not want. This is just electronics/clothing/toiletries to tide you over. You can always shop for most stuff if you have to. You don’t need to bring everything!

My carry on has toiletries I can’t live without. Most hotels will have shampoo, soap and lotion in the room, so I don’t take them. But I will bring my tooth brush, tooth paste, hair conditioner (a must for me), sun screen, face moisturizer, eye cream and some make up (possibly). Of course, put all your medication in your carry on bag. Do not put medication in your check thru luggage ever! I also put 2 changes of undies, bras, and tee shirts, and that sweater (the cashmere one) in case of emergency. And don’t forget that night gown and the spare pants. This bag should fit in the overhead compartment on the plane, or under the seat in front of you.

So the carry on has:

  • toiletries,
  • 2 undies,
  • 2 bras,
  • 2 tee shirts,
  • one pair of casual pants,
  • one sweater,
  • one nightie.
  • If you need socks for your shoes, add one or two pairs. Adding a scarf or two is a good idea also.

This is not a lot of clothes but in an emergency you could live on it. That is also why the sweater is a nice looking sweater. If my luggage is delayed, I could still go to dinner with what I have.

If you are wearing the jeans and have the casual pants in your carry on, that means only the formal pants are in your check thru luggage. Since you are wearing one tee, and have two tees in the carry on, your check thru luggage only has 4-6 tees (1 you wear + 2 in carry on + 4-6 in check thru = 7 to 9 tees total).

Why do I have so much in my carry on? Personal experience. We did a flight from Texas to London Heathrow, then on to Glasgow. Heathrow was having “issues” with the computers that handled luggage, and I had to fly on without my check thru luggage. We landed in Glasgow, but left the following morning for an overnight excursion elsewhere. “You’ll have it tomorrow” they said, but my luggage showed up 2 days later. Without my carry on clothes I would have had nothing. Don’t let that happen to you.

I have had times where my flight was delayed but my luggage went ahead anyways (go figure). Having that carry on with clothes can be a lifesaver. Also if you are on a cruise and spend the night before the cruise in a hotel, you only have to open your carry on case, not your luggage for the night. That can be helpful. No having to repack your suitcase because you don’t have clothes in your carry on. (On our Antarctica trip 5 people did not get their luggage before we sailed. Pack your carry on wisely.)

Other items that go into my carry on are electronics. If I take a cell phone or kindle/tablet you need to bring your chargers. A power strip and/or extension cord can come in handy – do not take a surge protector. Along with your camera, take any items you need with it – spare media cards, carrying bag, etc. Other handy items include small stickies/post-it notes (to leave notes for your roomie), pen, binder clips (keep drapes closed or hang socks to dry), ear plugs or head phones, etc. These handy little items should easily fit into a sandwich or smaller size baggie.

In addition to the carry on piece I take a personal item, like a purse or small back pack. This carries my wallet (take only what you need not all your credit cards), sun glasses, cell phone, book/kindle/ipad, travel documents, etc. This should fit under the seat in front of me. Its not a big area so it is not a big bag (back packs work great).

Things I don’t worry about: alarm clocks. You probably have that function on your cell phone. If you use a white noise maker at home to sleep with, check your cell phone, there may be an app for that.

Ideally, along with the perfect universe, everything could fit in a bag under the seat in front of you. Don’t worry if that doesn’t always work. Getting that to happen takes lots of practice, and trial and error.