How to Pack your Personal Item on your next flight

Updated: July 2018

We have recently written about the best budget airlines, but now it’s time to shed some light on other carriers as well. While the carry-on is a must, did you know that most airlines also allow for one additional bag, which is always free of charge? Yep, you’ve read that right, this baggage is otherwise known as a personal item.

How to Pack a Personal Item

Still, there is a question of how to use that space, as it’s always limited in size. With our simple tips, you’ll be able to maximize it like never before. Stick around, you might learn a thing or two.

Be wary of the dimensions

While personal items are free of charge, the airlines are usually very rigid when it comes to charging extra fees if your bag is larger than what’s required. To avoid this happening to you, make sure to read the allowed dimensions first, and double check if your luggage fits the description. Remember, even one inch can be a world of difference.

Determine the nature of your trip

It’s not always easy to travel light, and we understand that. However, there are a couple of things which will help you get accustomed to the process. First of all, it is of utmost importance to determine the nature of your trip. Business trips usually mean that passengers will carry laptops and books, and those things normally fit perfectly well with personal items.

Similarly, in case you’re traveling with your family, pack a few items which might come in handy during the trip. This is especially important if you have small children, or if you’re receiving medical therapy.

The perfect bag for personal items

As we mentioned earlier, it is of utmost importance to honor the regulations regarding size, and that’s why we believe that backpacks are perfect for this task. Not only that they’re very practical when it comes to carrying, they can also provide a good amount of space as well.

If you have the chance, make sure to use a backpack with multiple compartments, which will help you separate your personal belongings better. Try to place your belongings inside as strategically as possible. For instance, you will definitely need the travel documents at a certain point, so make that as easily accessible as possible.

How to organize

Start by assembling all of your necessities and spread them out of the bed. This will give you a good insight of how much space you’re working with, and it will also make it easier to ditch some unnecessary items.

Once you make a clear plan, start packing by placing the heaviest items on the bottom. Naturally, if you decided to carry any gadgets along, place them in a separate component on the inside, without putting any weight on them. This will not only protect them from breaking, but also add another layer of protection from pickpocketers, which is another thing to look out for. When it comes to clothes, some people decide to use freezer ziplock bags. Yep, you’ve read that correctly, but now you might be wondering what for? You see, not all backpacks are created equal, and whether you believe it or not, but ziplock bags actually help maximize the space. The only problem is, it might leave any clothing items you have pretty wrinkled.

List of important items

Naturally, every person is different, and we all have out own specific set of needs, but there are some general items which are more important than others. In no particular order, these are:

  • Wallet
  • Prescribed medication
  • Necessities for children
  • Glasses
  • Smartphone, or any other gadget with chargers
  • A good book in case you’re not a fan of those boring in-flight movies

Keep yourself hydrated at all times

Fatigue sets in when you’re feeling dehydrated, and you really wouldn’t want to be feeling miserable when you’re headed on a vacation. Furthermore, dehydration also causes headaches, and that can zap the fun out of any situation rather quickly.

To combat those negative effects, you want to pack a water bottle in your personal item. Now, here’s a neat trick. If the airport security is trying to give you a hard time because of it, simply drink up, but keep the bottle. You guessed right, you can refill it as soon as you get onboard. Don’t get me wrong, if this is such a hassle to you, you can always ask a flight attendant to bring you a glass of water, but would you really want to be doing that every other hour?

You need to get some sleep

Getting a good night's rest is absolutely vital to maintaining a great mood, but some people struggle with the concept of sleeping while traveling. To make matters worse, switching through different time zones definitely doesn’t help their case. Our advice would be to pack a few items that will make this transition a lot smoother.

Call me crazy, but I can barely leave my house without some ear plugs and a sleep mask by my side. I know that these things might not be as important to you, but trust me, give it a go. But why stop there? Nowadays, there are specially designed travel pillows, which take up only a couple inches of room, but can be a life saver during those long and tiresome flights. The best way to catch some sleep is to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Don’t forget about entertainment

We already mentioned above that some flights can last for a really long time, and it’s important to keep yourself busy during those hours. Otherwise, you will probably get bored to death, and once again, become very edgy. When you’re flying in economy class across the globe, that’s the last thing you would want to happen.

My personal choice is always Kindle, as it’s easy on the eyes, and I always make sure to have a great book ready to go. If you are more high-tech than myself, you can always bring your tablet, and download a good movie of your choice. But the possibilities don’t end with those gadgets either. Crosswords and Sudoku will also occupy your attention for a while, and thus, make the trip seem shorter than it is. If you have some work that needs to be done, why not bring a laptop, and deal with it on the spot? What’s more, it can also replace some of your other gadgets, such as Kindle or a tablet, and offer a lot more possibilities for entertainment.

A decent set of headphones should not be underestimated

My sister cannot seem to comprehend my affection toward headphones, and if you are a member of the cheap headphone club, I want you to listen to me for a minute. I promise it won’t be just another tiring rant.

The thing that pushes me to the limit are screaming children! If you ever had a chance to share an international flight with any of these little angels, you probably get my point. Luckily, nowadays, I always travel with my beloved Sony WH-1000XM2’s, and those problems are a thing of the past. You see, there’s a neat feature to them, and it’s called noise canceling. Put these babies on, and the whole world gets shut down for as long as you’d like. You don’t even have to listen to any music whatsoever in order to be transported to a better, less annoying world.

Don’t cheap out on your luggage

We know that there are plenty of dirt-cheap backpacks out there, and it’s easy to fall under temptation to buy them, but we’ll try to explain shortly why that wouldn’t be such a good choice.

First of all, the last thing you would want is to buy a backpack which has very low-quality zippers, as those things seeming break when we least expect it. Furthermore, those bags usually don’t come with a lot of separate compartments, making it harder to divide your belongings. Last but not least, they are tailored from cheap materials, which might tear up and they almost never provide waterproof protection. Be smart with your choice, it will be vital in the long run.


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Standard's Carry-on-sized backpack is the ultimate luggage for international travellers and designed to meet airline size rules.

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