Once you’ve decided what you can carry on board, then you should give some thought to a few essentials to include in your carry-on bag. Here is a short list of some on-hand basics; you can modify the list to suit your own personal tastes (we realize some people just aren’t able to fly without their laptop or personal MP3 player).
Some light outerwear, like a sweater, sweatshirt, or extra shirt
Underwear (in case your bags end up in Peru)
Small toiletries kit
Travel documents (such as tickets, passport, and reservations)
Maps and guidebooks
Some reading material (you’ll need this with any delays)
Lip balm and sunscreen
Pen. pencil and notebook
Some people insist on not checking their bags, efficiently packing everything in one carry-on bag. If you’re traveling for any length of time, though, you’re going to be limited in what you can carry this way. Packing pros often use a system of layering their clothes to optimize packing space. This system builds layers of clothing from large to small to maximize space and minimize wrinkles. Start with the largest of your garments, an overcoat or sports jacket, and place it at the bottom of your open case. Then alternately place the rest of your garments in layers crosswise and lengthwise until you get to the smaller items. Use a small core bag to pack underwear, socks, etc. and put it in the middle of the case, and then fold the larger sleeves, pants, skirts, etc. around it. Put toiletries in the small gaps or in the pockets of the larger garments.
But remember, with all packing, less is more. No one has ever said, “I wish my bags were heavier.”
Tips On More Efficient Packing
Start by laying out all of your clothes 48 hours before your trip. Then cut what you’ve laid out in half.
One day before you leave weed out the remaining excess. Don’t take two sweaters and five pairs of shoes if you can get by with one sweater and two pairs of shoes.
Carry heavier items, such as a jacket, onto the place. This doesn’t count against your carry-on limit.
If you’re going to have access to laundry services, pack a two-day supply of underwear and socks. You can even pack a small bottle of laundry detergent and do the laundry in the hotel sink. Some travelers even wear old clothes and discard them to make room for clothing purchased on the trip.
Coordinate your clothing around a few basic colors so that everything goes with everything else. For men a blue suit is the most practical outfit, as it adapts to a blazer with khaki slacks, or blue slacks with polo or dress shirt for more informal occasions. For women, you can’t go wrong with the basic black dress and a variety of accessories such as scarves.
One more thing. It’s also been recommended in numerous places that you keep copies of your passport tucked away in various places in your luggage in case you lose the original. You won’t believe how much time your can save trying to get a replacement if you can present a copy to the local agency that issues them.