I previously wrote a post explaining how to pack for your vacation using only a carry-on. In this post I mentioned the often overlooked personal item as a way to carry more. But that opens up the question, how do you pack a personal item in a way that allows you to take advantage of it?
1. Choose the right bag
Much like packing a carry-on, packing your personal item starts with choosing the right bag. Airlines have
restrictions about how large your personal item can be, and even how much it can weigh in some cases. Check your airline’s website for restrictions.
Generally speaking, a personal item must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. This limits you to a purse, computer bag, brief case or small backpack or daypack. But that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself by only carrying a purse or computer case, choose the backpack or daypack.
2. Pack your purse
If you’re a guy, this doesn’t apply to you, but ladies pay attention. You may be thinking, “But I need a purse!” Taking a daypack or backpack as a personal item doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a purse; it probably just won’t be your regular day-to-day purse.
Choose a smaller purse, one just big enough to fit a wallet, smaller than your usual one (or just cash, one credit card and ID), cell phone, and keys for when you get to your destination, and pack it in your personal item. But don’t just leave it empty at the bottom of your bag, put it to work.
While flying let your purse double as a make-up bag. Put your lipstick, foundation, whatever you need, in it. Your purse is also a great place to put your house or car keys and chapstick.
3. Pack the essentials
Your personal item is where you’ll pack the really important stuff: your wallet, passport (if you’re traveling internationally), cell phone and boarding pass.
Try for a backpack or daypack with outer pockets and at least put your boarding pass and ID in one of those. If that’s not an option, make sure this stuff is on top for easy access at security.
4. Electronics and chargers
This includes your kindle, camera (If you have one) and their chargers, as well as your phone charger. Nothing else!
If you’re going overseas, and you have room, put your converter in here. If not, put it in your carry-on, they don’t take up that much space.
If you’re on a long-haul flight you will get hungry in between meals, so it’s a good idea to have snacks. But you don’t want to be pulling your carry-on out of the overhead bin every time you’re feeling peckish. Keep your snacks in your personal item and they’ll be easily accessible.
6. Personal hygiene items
Stick your comb (or very small brush), toothbrush, mini tube of toothpaste, a pack of baby wipes and stick
deodorant in your bag. You’ll be happy when you can freshen up before landing.
7. Extra t-shirt, underwear and socks
I’m not saying try and stuff an entire outfit in your personal item, you should have one in your carry-on just in case. But a new pair of underwear, socks and a change of shirt will go a long way to making you feel fresh, especially on a long fight.
And by putting it in your personal item you won’t have to go digging through your carry-on, just take your small bag to the bathroom with you.
It will make it far easier to take your daily medication, if you have any, if they’re just under the seat in front of you. Put them in an outer pocket to make things really easy.
I know this seems like a lot to try and fit in a small backpack or daypack, but it is doable, especially if you avoid trying to fit these 3 things into your personal item.
Most people use a laptop bag as their personal item because they are bringing their computer, as stated before, this is a waste. If you don’t need your computer, don’t bring it. If you do need it, put it in your carry-on, sans computer bag, and buffer it with your spare outfit.
2. All your makeup
Bringing your entire makeup routine will take up space that could be used for other things. Pick two or
three essentials and that’s it.
3. Sweater, cardigan or jacket
Wear this onto the plane and take it off, then it can double as a pillow if needed.