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.
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.
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.
- Contact lenses and glasses
- House and car keys
- Passport or driver’s license
Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.
You Might Also Like:• The Best Hardside Luggage
• 7 Reasons You Smell Bad When Traveling
• How to Avoid Norovirus When Traveling
• The 8 Best Sunglasses for Travel
• What to Pack for Europe in Winter
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Top Fares From
Today's Top Travel Deals
Brought to you by ShermansTravel
Globus Tours to Greece, Ireland, France...
Avoya Travelvacation $499+
The Caribbean: Luxe, All-Inclusive Sandals Resorts...
Avoya Travelhotel $489+
Azamara Cruises Around the World w/Free...
Avoya Travelcruise $629+