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Packing for a Trip: 5 Travel Essentials

17 jan

Do you end up trying to stuff your entire wardrobe in your suitcase every time you go on a trip? It’s not easy to choose what to bring! Here are five things to keep in mind when packing, no matter where you’re going.

Before you start packing, don’t forget to check your airline’s website to figure out your baggage allowance and learn which items aren’t allowed on the plane. You’ll also have to go through the security checkpoints and customs of other airports, and they may have different rules on what items you can bring. Check out the CATSA website to see which items you can and cannot pack in your carry-on and checked baggage in Canada. 


1. Personal item 

It’s always helpful to have a backpack or purse that holds all your essentials, so you have them handy. You’re usually allowed to bring one personal item and one carry-on bag on board. Your personal item can fit under your seat, making it easy to access during the flight. It can hold your wallet, cards, important documents, cell phone, headphones, charger, glasses, snacks, and more.  

Pro tips:  

  • Bring a bag you’ll also use during your trip! That way, you won’t have to find space for it in your checked baggage. 
  • Wireless headphones are great, except when you want to listen to in-flight entertainment systems. Don’t forget to bring your own wired headphones.

2. Carry-on 

Don’t want to wait for your baggage at the carousel once you get off your flight? A carry-on bag is your best friend. If you’re also travelling with checked baggage, consider bringing weather-appropriate clothes for your destination, as well as a few days’ worth of hygiene products, in your carry-on. Medications should also go in your carry-on, including their prescriptions. You may be asked for prescriptions at the security checkpoint or when going through customs. Don’t forget you can’t bring more than 100 mL of liquids, gels, or aerosols. If your bags get lost or delayed, you’ll be glad to have your essentials with you, like a toothbrush and some clothes. One last thing to stick in your carry-on: your electronics (laptop, camera, chargers, travel adapters, etc.).  

While it’s important to bring essentials, you do need to pay attention to the size of your carry-on bag. You can test it at one of the stands near the airlines’ check-in counters. 

3. A folder for all your travel documents  

Passport, travel insurance, hotel reservation… We know how hard it can be to manage all that paperwork, especially if it’s scattered in a million bags. We recommend putting all your travel documents together in a folder. Then put it in your carry-on so you have all your documents handy. For more tips, check out our blog post on 7 essential travel documents.  

4. Checked baggage: a must-have for longer trips 

Checked baggage is of course a must if you’re going on a longer trip or have a lot to bring. It’s a good place for your clothes, shoes, accessories, beach towels, coats, and much more. Even if you can fit more things in checked baggage, plan how many changes of clothes you’ll need and do some research on your destination to prioritize essentials. Friendly advice: Always save some space in case you decide to bring back souvenirs!  

Make sure to write your contact information on your suitcase so the airline can contact you more easily if there’s a mistake or delay.  

Also, pay attention to the weight and dimensions of your baggage! Don’t forget to weigh your suitcase once it’s closed. If it’s over your airline’s weight or size limit, you may be charged an extra fee at check-in. The limits are listed on the airline’s website. There are also scales throughout the terminal’s check-in area so you can weigh your bags before going to the counter. 

5. Special items 

Are you travelling with non-standard baggage, like sports equipment, musical instruments, or hunting gear? Make sure to check with your airline to understand the restrictions that apply to these items, as some aren’t accepted. You usually have to check them in advance, in addition to following the rules on packing, exemptions, and additional fees.  


Don’t forget to bring entertainment! 

While the most important thing is to have something to wear and identify yourself with, don’t forget to bring something fun to do on the plane or at the beach! Pack something to read (pocket books are perfect!), a travel diary, card games, a travel guide, or anything else to pass the time. By the way, these all fit nicely in a carry-on or purse!  

Trying to do a 1,000-piece puzzle on a sandy beach may not be the best idea, but you’ll surely find something to keep yourself busy during your downtime.  


And with that, you’re officially ready to fly!  

Happy packing, and enjoy your vacation!