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Packing That Carry-On: 10 Most Common Mistakes People Make

Sometimes, it costs money to check a bag. Sometimes, people don’t want to check luggage in case it gets lost. And sometimes, people have a carry-on bag simply because they want to take more in addition to their checked luggage.

Whatever the case, having a carry-on bag when it comes to travel is handy and has a ton of advantages – your stuff stays right with you (most of the time), and you don’t have to wait around the baggage carousel at the other end if that’s all you’re taking. But people still make a ton of mistakes when it comes to their carry-on luggage, and some of these mistakes can be costly!

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10. They Don't Check The Specific Regulations Of That Airline

Carry-on suitcase regulations tend to be fairly standard on most airlines. For the most part, there are a specific set of guidelines that major airlines tend to follow. But a couple of the major airlines deviate, and budget airlines deviate even more so. Some budget airlines even charge extra just to bring a carry-on on board!

Never assume that the next airline you fly with will have the same regulations as the previous one. Even a couple of inches' difference could mean that you now have to check your bag, and the cost of checking a bag at the airport can be significant.

9. Or They Check The Regulations, Then Pack So Much That The Suitcase Expands

So you’ve checked the regulations, you’ve measured your suitcase, and it fits within the regulations perfectly. Great, right?

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Now don’t pack it so much that it expands!

It might not seem like a big deal, but they have those cages at the airport to check your bag will fit in the overhead locker, and even one or two inches could make all the difference if everything has been squashed into your case. Always measure the case once it’s full, not empty – and this is especially true for soft cases, which are actually built to adjust and expand depending on how much is in them.

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8. They Pack All Their Liquids Inside

It’s been an airport security rule for years, but some people still tend to forget if they aren’t frequent fliers or aren’t used to taking carry-on luggage. No. You can’t pack full bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, or any other form of liquid in your suitcase.

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The rule is that all of your liquids must be able to fit into a bag that’s no more than 20 centimeters long or wide, and each of the containers must contain less than 100 ml. It seems steep but if you’re taking carry-on luggage, it’s best to buy some of the hygiene essentials when you actually get there.

7. They Leave A Laptop Or Tablet Buried Deep In The Case

Laptops must be removed at security and placed in a tray on their own – so don’t pack your laptop at the bottom of your case. Otherwise, you’re going to be extremely stressed out at security when you have to unzip your case and dig as deep as possible to find your laptop.

It’s also worth noting that tablets can be treated the same way. Although they’re usually fine, I’ve had a 7-inch Kindle set off the detector in London and have to be removed. If in doubt about anything, ask security or leave it at the top of your case so it can easily be removed and popped back in.

6. They Wrongly Assume That Carry-Ons Don't Have A Weight Limit

Since carry-on cases are rarely weighed, it’s easy to assume that checked luggage is the only thing with a weight limit – but sometimes, this isn’t actually true.

Delta is one of the few airlines that don’t have a weight limit on their carry-ons as long as everything fits into their size limit and it can be lifted into an overhead locker – but most airlines have a limit of 10 kg, and some even have limits as low as 8 kg. You might get away with it if you’re a little over but sometimes, they do get weighed and you may have to check it or pay an excess bag fee if you’re a little over.

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5. They Don't Think About Whether A Hard Or Soft Case Is Better For Them

Hard and soft cases have various advantages and disadvantages and sometimes, people don’t consider which is actually best for them.

Soft cases are lighter. If you want to be able to pack more heavy things and not surpass your weight limit, then soft cases are your better option. But they aren’t very sturdy or good protection so if you have delicate items, it might be better to opt for a hard case and sacrifice some of your weight limit to the hardware of the suitcase.

This is all about what suits the individual – it just needs some thought!

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4. They Don't Think They Need To Tag The Bag

It’s common practice to tag a checked suitcase. They often get lost – especially if there are connecting flights on the journey – and the easiest way to reunite them with their owner is by tagging the bag, so the owner can be contacted and the suitcase can be sent to wherever they are.

People, however, often don’t tag their carry-ons because they assume they will be with them at all times. But sometimes, planes are full and have no room, and people are asked to check their carry-on at the gate. Even if you have no intention of checking your bag at any stage of the journey, it could end up unavoidable. Always tag your bag just in case!

3. They Pick A Bland Bag, Like Plain Black

For the same reason, it’s best to pick a bright, colorful suitcase, or at least one with a unique feature that means it’s easy to spot. Even if you’re sure you can remember the exact place in the overhead bin that you placed your bag, this will make it easy to reclaim it from there – and if you end up having to check it for some reason, it will make it easy to spot on the carousel.

This goes for any suitcase though – checked or carry-on, it’s always best to choose something bright and recognizable so you always know it’s yours.

2. They Leave Things They Might Actually Need On The Flight Buried In Clothes

If you’ve packed everything into your carry-on, it’s best to take into account what you’re actually going to need on the flight.

Say you pack some face masks to use at the beginning, or some snacks for midway through the flight; say you have a sweater in case it gets cold, or a travel pillow to rest your head on. The best thing to do is always to have these at the top so that if you have to take things out of your suitcase, you don’t have to disturb the rest of the packing to get to what you need.

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1. They Wrap Gifts For People

This one is easy to overlook if you’re going away for someone’s birthday or for Christmas – but don’t wrap gifts!

If your luggage sets off the detector at security, even if it’s random selection, security needs to be able to see exactly what’s in your bag. If a gift is wrapped, they will tear off the wrapping paper to see what’s inside – meaning you wasted all that time on your pretty gift-wrapping.

If you must wrap gifts, take the gift wrap with you and do it once you’re through security or when you actually reach your destination. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to redo it.

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