Hand luggage only: how to pack for any trip
Beat the queues and the airline charges: travel writer Tim Richards shows you his carry-on bag packing secrets.
It's one of the big annoys of the travel game. You're boarding your aircraft only to find that every overhead bin within reach of your seat is chockers. Your size-compliant bag ends up in a bin five seats back, which means you're probably exiting the aircraft last.
Airlines commonly restrict economy class passengers to one carry-on weighing not more than 10 kgs, but some passengers have been going big and getting away with it for years. Budget airlines that charge for checked baggage are especially vulnerable since a traveller who can cram everything into their carry-ons can fly more cheaply that one with checked luggage.
Considering that budget airlines make a healthy income from baggage charges – in the USA, that figure was US$3.35 billion in 2013 – you might ask why they aren't more diligent about policing their own rules.
For Jetstar and Tigerair passengers at least, the umpire has come onto the field. Jetstar recently flagged a get-tough policy, with cabin baggage officers assigned to ensure that passengers comply and a week later Tigerair followed. Apart from offenders who trundle on board with a supersize pull-along case, a backpack and a bulging plastic bag and occupy most of an overhead bin, it should prove popular with the travelling public. In a web poll conducted by Traveller.com.au, 89 per cent agreed that airlines should crack down on passengers with oversize carry-ons.
So how do you make the most of your allowance and stay within the limits? On Jetstar flights for example, Economy Starter, Starter Plus and Starter Max passengers can bring one main item of carry-on baggage with a maximum size of 56cm high x 36 cm wide x 23 cm deep plus one other small item, with a total combined weight of up to 10kg. The small item could be a handbag, a pocketbook or a purse.
Here's the definitive carry-on list for the global galloper – the must-ride basics, the extras that cushion the economy-class flight experience and a few items to tide you over, just in case your checked-in bags don't reach your destination when you do. Don't forget to seal all liquids, aerosols and gels in a see-through bag for when you pass through the security check, and no single container larger than 100 mls.
Passport. You won't get far without it, and make sure it's valid for at least six months beyond the date when you plan to return home.
Wallet, cash, credit cards. Minimum two cards that will allow you to access cash overseas.
Itinerary with flight, hotel and car reservations plus all other documents. You may need to show these when you enter another country.
Phone. Your pocket pal, is life possible without it?
Eye drops. Aircraft cabins are low humidity environments and eye drops are soothing balm for that scratchy, red-eye feeling.
Eye mask. Your own personal dark space for that refreshing power nap.
Ear plugs. Cut down the noise, another sleepmaker.
Pen. For filling out immigration and customs forms.
Eyewear. Whatever you need, or contact lens solution if required.
Hand sanitiser. Even if the aircraft looks clean, give yourself a squirt before meals.
Face wipes. Say "Aah!" A little in-seat self pampering goes a long way.
Lip balm. These small things make a big difference.
Moisturiser. Instant relief for dry skin.
Headphones. Noise-reducing cut aircraft noise to a whisper, but even the in-ear items provide a quality listening experience. You might need an adapter to fit the on-board entertainment system outlet port.
Tablet device with power cord. Download your own movies, just in case. Many airline seats now feature USB ports to keep you charged all the way.
Scarf or shawl. Warmth and style. Nothing says "chic person within" like a nice scarf.
Charger and adapter plug. Keep the juice flowing to those vital electronics.
Daily medications and vitamins. Anything you might need to take daily, plus any prescription meds.
Toiletries. Whatever you need to get you through an overnight stay.
Socks, underwear. No explanation required.
Shirt/t-shirt. You really don't want to be climbing back into a shirt you've just flown in.