Packing My Carry-on
Before you get excited, this is NOT a blog about packing light or travelling with just a carry-on bag. I can do that for a 2 day trip – maybe! But most of the time, I am an unreformed heavy packer. My carry-on bag contains the things that I: a) need with me on the plane b) want with me when I land or c) don’t want to lose. Most of the things in my carry-on bag are pretty standard. But there a few unusual things in my carry-on that I thought I might share.
I use a rolling bag for my carry-on. I always check the airlines that we will be using to make sure my bag is within the limits. We got surprised on our SE Asia trip when we realized that carry-on bag sizes were much smaller than my standard bag. And the weigh limit is ridiculously low. So we had to check our normal carry-on bag at very high onsite rates! Because my bag can roll, I can load it a bit more than I might do if I was carrying the bag. And my “personal bag” is usually much smaller.
The Less Unusual Things In My Carry-on
My carry-on bag includes the standard less unusual things that everyone carries. My noise cancelling headphones save me when I need a little peace. I actually also carry my wireless sport headphones that I use if I want to sleep and don’t want to get tied up in cords. Connected to my headphones is my iPad – loaded with books, music and video. I never have to worry if the airplane entertainment system is missing or bad!
My laptop and other electronics are always in my carry-on. They fit in the “don’t want to lose” category. I may sometimes use my laptop on really long flights. But usually it isn’t worth the effort. Having bought into the whole Apple ecosystem has greatly reduced the cables and connectors we travel with. But we do make sure to travel with a travel adapter “just in case”. Many times we have thought we would not need one and have struggled to share one electrical outlet.
We will always travel with key documents (passport, visas, hard copies of some travel plans). In addition to my regular credit card, I take a very low limit credit card that I can use in sketchy situations. We always try to have a little local cash if possible when we land. I also travel with a copy of our Powers of Attorney (Financial and Medical). We leave instructions with my best friend in case of emergency. This is our “just in case” packing.
Depending on where we are travelling, I may even have a change of clothes or shoes. If the climate is significantly different between our departure and arrival points, sometimes it is nice to quickly change. This also has saved us when our luggage didn’t quite make it with us!
Unusual Things In My Carry-on
Many of the unusual things in my carry-on are less about kinds of things than the product selections that I have made.
1) Travel Pillows
Lots of people travel with pillows. We own several blow up versions. I have a bright pink neck pillow with micro beads inside. David has a roll pillow. And of course, we have used coats and blankets as pillows.
A new addition to the pillow cache is the TravelRest pillow that I recently bought online. As a side sleeper, it allows me to roll into it to sleep. It is a great buffer between me and the cold window. I splurged for a plush covering to keep it cosy on my face.
Luckily the pillow with the cover rolls up pretty small and easily attaches to my rolling bag. This may let me finally throw out all of the other pillows we have collected over the years. It also can easily provide a pillow for other times e.g. on a beach chair, as a back pillow or sitting up in bed. This may be one of the unusual things in my carry-on but it may be the most multi-purposed.
2) Eye Masks
The standard eye masks are horrid. I don’t like them over my nose. They don’t keep the light out. And the elastic is often too tight. I managed to find just the right replacement shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond!
The Bucky 40 Blinks Eye Mask looks like a very mini bikini. It is made of moulded soft neoprene and had an adjustable strap. It fits flat against my face blocking out the light without any chaffing. I never travel without it if I think I may be sleeping on the go! While an eye mask is a common travel item, many would think that my Bucky mask is one of the unusual things in my carry-on bag!
3) Jet Lag Aid
There are many articles and blogs about the practices that help with jet lag. Whether it is about light exposure or meal times, I try to follow those two. My carry-on bag includes NoJetLag homeopathic pills that I religiously swallow every hour. Since I sleep so badly on most planes, I don’t miss too many pills on a long trip.
The more unusual thing I do for jet lag is based on acupressure points. I have a TENS device that provides a small electrical stimulation that can be applied to acupressure points over the body. This TENS device has proven to be a miracle device for some things (tooth ache and plantar fasciitis). I am not sure how well it really helps me with jet lag but I do carry the small device and try to follow the schedule.
The instructions I have show me which acupressure point to stimulate at what time in the new time zone. Most of the points are easy to access while fully dressed. But I am sure that many of the people near me on the plane have wondered as I went about jolting myself. This is definitely one of the unusual things in my carry-on.
4) Motion Sickness Relief
I normally do not have a major problem with motion sickness or sea sickness specifically. Reading in a moving car or train doesn’t make me nauseous. Once I tried to be a super-mom by taking my son Nick for a full day of deep sea fishing. Only to find that he spent the whole time huddled with a bucket because he suffers from sea sickness. Being the good sport, I picked up his fishing rod and managed to catch my bucket of fish!
We went whale watching in Monterey Bay, California. The boats were a bit smaller and the sea looked a little choppy. The charter company offered sea sickness bands with electrical vibrations on the inner wrist acupressure point. The band was far more comfortable than the cheap elastic bands and I didn’t feel a moment of queasy belly.
Our cruise from Athens to Dubai to Cape Town includes several days over open water. David the ex-Navy guy anticipates some rough sea days. So I will be prepared. I finally managed to find the vibrating sea sickness bands from ReliefBand on Amazon.
I don’t need to wear the bands all the time. But when we head for open water, I will put the band on and be prepared. I will update this post when I have enough data to report! If this works well for sea sickness, it will be one of the unusual things in my carry-on that comes with us if we are to be on the water.
5) WiFi Everywhere
You will see from my blogs that I have tried virtually every way to ensure I stay connected when I travel. I have tried local SIMs, U.S. travel SIMS, a U.S. Virgin Mobile Hot Spot and a multi-country International SIM. As an absolute last resort I will pay the the outrageous International Roaming charges for my local Canadian cell provider. I have added a new device to cover our multi-country travel trips. I really do not want to be swapping SIMs as we move from country to country.
TEP Wireless provides a device rental service that will be initiated for specific durations and specific countries. I decided to purchase my TEP device since we do enough long multi-Country trips. The country coverage looks broader than the International SIM I purchased. While it may not provide telephone coverage, it does give unlimited data. I figure that I can make Skype calls if I really need to make a call when out and about.
Watch for my review. I am going to test it back to back with my International SIM in countries where both are supported. Many people I know want to totally disconnect when they travel. They feel this may be one of the most unusual things in my carry-on. But as a travel blogger, it is far more exciting to share our travels as we go!
The Expanding Carry-On Bag
I really do try to pare down the size of my luggage, whether it is carry-on or checked bags. It gets better but not perfect. I guess I still have many years of travel to perfect my techniques.
The unusual things in my carry-on bag are definitely increasing. I am a “gadget girl” and get tempted by new and shiny things sometimes. And if they are about making the travel journey more comfortable, then I keep adding to my bags.
What do you think of the unusual things in my carry-on bag? What is your most unusual item or brand in yours?