I remembered the time I was packing for my first trip abroad – I was so afraid and paranoid about my carry-on bag. It was more likely a result of watching too much airport-related “horror stories” of the things that could go wrong when passing through security and immigration before boarding. I don’t know about you but I never liked the idea of being asked to step aside so the airport personnel can have a look at my carry-on bag, especially if on a rush to get to the boarding gate!

Ok, let's get packing! Photo via Flickr.
Ok, let’s get packing! Photo via Flickr.

Over the years, frequent traveling allowed me to become a smarter traveler. It allowed me to determine the important items I can store in my carry-on and have easy access to it, especially if onboard a long flight.

So, if you are a new traveler and would like to read on the tips – this article is for you. You do have 7kg of carry-on allowance but make sure to consider these when packing!

Travel documents

Very handy to have these within reach! Photo via Flickr.
Very handy to have these within reach! Photo via Flickr.

This must be the top of your carry-on bag list. Travel documents include your passport, hotel/accommodation information, plane ticket, and/or the invite letter from your host (for individuals traveling to a country requiring a Visa).

Placing these inside your carry-on bag will make it easy for you in case the immigration officer asks you a couple of things before they let you through. Most especially if you are a first-time traveler to a country requiring a Visa to get in, immigration officers tend to ask the details of your stay to double check. And if you have the supporting travel documents in your carry-on bag, all you have to do is to hand it over to them as proof!


I learned this the hard way when I ended up getting sick halfway through the flight. I got a cold during the first leg of the trip and had to suffer for the rest of it. I was able to buy some medicines during the stopover but things could’ve prevented from getting worse if only I have medicines in my carry-on bag.

Of course, most airlines have their stash of basic medicines for a headache or cold but there is a chance they ran out of it or what they have in stock is a brand you are allergic to.

If you are taking prescription medicines, you can also carry it onboard! Just make sure to carry just enough for the duration of the flight and bring the doctor’s prescription if you were asked for it during the security scan.


In this day and age, you would think that cashless transaction is the way to go. So as long as you have Visa (or Mastercard), you have the spending power anywhere in the world – not really. In fact, you will be surprised to see several merchants in some airports not accepting credit card transactions or requiring a minimum amount to spend.

While we can always prefer to use a credit card over bills when traveling, it is handy to have cash at hand all the time. It is your “lifesaver” in case you really need to buy something at the airport (such as bottled water or bag of snacks) and credit card transaction is not possible that day. After all, foreign exchange is easily accessible inside the airport. Or, you can try asking the merchant if they accept your denomination as payment.

Mobile phone charger

Uh-oh. Photo via Flickr.
Uh-oh. Photo via Flickr.

Your mobile phone is one of the hardworking gadgets you bring while traveling. It gives you entertainment mid-flight and a pastime while in a stopover. And because you use your phone so much while traveling, it is very likely your mobile phone battery will be empty before you reach your final destination.

Most aircraft are equipped with an international power plug socket. It may not be enough to fully charge your mobile phone batteries but at least, allow you to re-charge it for a bit. Having easy access to the mobile phone charger also allows you to charge your phone while a stopover, too! This way, you will never have to worry how to get in touch with the person picking you up upon disembarking!