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Why You Should Always Pack a Second Bag in Your Carry-On

SmarterTravel

There’s nothing worse than carefully condensing your travel essentials to fit into just a carry-on—only to be told at the gate that the overhead compartments are full and you’ll have to check your bag. If that happens, you’ll have to scramble to pull out all the necessities you’ll need in-flight (like chargers, books, headphones, etc.) plus anything important that shouldn’t go in a checked bag (like medications, house keys, and electronics).

This scenario is why you should always pack a separate essentials bag that you can easily pull out of your carry-on if necessary. Even if you don’t get forced into gate-checking your bag, having a second carry-on bag is still a good idea, because you can stow it under your seat and have easy access to in-flight necessities while storing your larger carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, freeing up legroom.  

The Best Bag to Use

The second bag that you pack in your carry-on should be small enough that it will easily fit under your seat (and qualify as a personal item) so it will never get gate-checked. 

Amazon Basics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack in red
Amazon Basics Ultralight Portable Packable Day PackAmazon

Choose a bag that can pull double-duty on your trip. If you’re planning an active trip, a small daypack is a great choice.

Samsonite Foldaway Packable Tote Sling Bag in purple
Samsonite Foldaway Packable Tote Sling BagAmazon

If you’ll be doing lots of souvenir shopping, consider using a portable tote bag that you can easily store away when not in use—just make sure whatever bag you choose has a zipper to keep your belongings secure. 

What to Pack in the Second Bag

The second bag should contain any travel essentials that you’ll need in-flight, as well as anything that you absolutely can’t live without on your trip.

In-Flight Essentials

Crucial Items

  • Medications
  • Contact lenses and glasses
  • House and car keys
  • Passport or driver’s license
  • Wallet

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