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Carry-On Suitcase, open and being packed with clothes

Packing Tips for Checked and Carry-On Luggage

If you're packing for a wonderful vacation that includes airline travel, you’re probably getting out your luggage and trying to decide what should go into your carry-on bag and your checked piece of luggage.

Packing Checklist

Carry-on Bag:

  • Change of clothes. If your checked bag doesn’t arrive with you, this will tide you over.
  • Prescription medications you are taking, as well as extra contacts or eye glasses. Also, take a list of all of your prescription medicines.
  • Valuables like jewelry. However, it’s best to leave the bling behind.
  • Travel documents like your passport or entry visas, plus confirmations and tickets for your trip. Also, keep a copy of your travel insurance policy with you. Make a copy of your passport and entry visas and stash in a separate place.
  • Reading material. If you have delays at the airport, sit back and relax with a good read.
  • Umbrella or collapsible rain slicker. You may arrive in your destination with the rain pouring down.
  • Description of checked luggage. If you have to fill out a lost-luggage report, having a detailed description of your checked bag will be helpful – size/dimensions, color, brand, and any identifying marks.
Checked Luggage:

  • Personal identification. You should have your name, address, telephone number inside your luggage, plus the address and phone number at your first destination. If it’s lost, it will be helpful for those who might find your bag. Or if a stranger picks up your bag in luggage claim, it will help them locate you. Don’t put your personal information on the outside of the luggage – use an alternate address to prevent thieves from robbing your home while you’re away.
  • Pack light. Take only the clothes you’ll need in your destination. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • Toiletries. You are not limited by size in your checked bag, so wrap liquids in plastic baggies, and put them inside - substitute non-aerosol for aerosol dispensers.
  • Gloves, scarf, and hat if you are traveling to a place that’s cold. Women should take a head scarf in case you visit religious sites that require covered heads.
  • Consider security. Do not pack any items which airport security would deem a hazard.
  • Luggage belt. Many bags look alike. Get a colorful luggage belt and put around your bag so it’s easy to identify when it pops out at the airport. It also will help prevent strangers from picking up your bag by mistake.
These tips are a good starting point, but don't hesitate to consult your AAA Travel professional to figure out what's appropriate to pack for your specific itinerary.