Packing A Carry-On for Holiday Travel

If you know me well, you know that I prefer to travel carry-on only wherever possible and a durable, yet a soft bag is an essential part of that equation. By now I've become a pro at packing my carry-on, whether it is my only bag for the trip or an accompaniment to a checked suitcase (mainly crammed with things for the kids). Since we'll be travelling to someplace with the family in the next few months -- and you might be travelling too -- I wanted to share what I've learned about selecting and packing a carry-on for the holidays.



Other than the obvious requirement of selecting a carry-on bag that follows airline size regulations, a carry-on should feel comfortable to tote around (whether by a shoulder strap or on wheels), fit under the seat in front of you, and be light-weight yet able to hold everything you need for a two-week (or longer!) trip.

I prefer soft bags, like a duffle, with or without wheels since they are easier to store when not in use, but can be stuffed full of clothes, gifts, and toiletries during travel. So, for this packing guide and my upcoming trip, I'm going to choose something which ticks all of the boxes and then some.



Travelling for the holidays tends to add a bit of panic when it comes to packing since there are often occasions to dress for and gifts to bring along. If your flight allows for a free checked bag, take advantage of it without feeling guilty. But, don't rely only on a checked bag since lost or damaged baggage is, unfortunately, common. I already know what is going in my checked bag vs. in my carry-on.

But what should you pack in your carry-on vs. in your checked luggage?


Essential medicine

1 change of clothes

Electronics and chargers



Entertainment – that’s toys to keep hands busy




All other clothes

Food gifts


Larger play items or a new toy for the destination.


I always choose to pack my electronics (camera, tablet, and chargers) in my carry-on bag because I'm afraid that they'll get lost or damaged if stowed in my check luggage. Since my camera and tablet are both essential to me, I can't go without. You'll also notice that I also pack jewellery (if I bring any) in my carry-on, and though I don't wear expensive jewellery, I'm also concerned about loss or damage there. After those essentials get packed, I throw in a change of clothes for the kids and me, snacks, and toys.

If I'm using a checked suitcase, everything else gets thrown in there!


Would you add anything else to your checked or your carry-on luggage? My carry-on will obviously be filled with toys, snacks, electronics. What are your essentials for your carry-on?






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