Best Practices for Carrying-On

Whether its questions on Twitter, Facebook, or questions for our very own customer service reps, people seem to be consistently asking for tips and advice on carry-on luggage. I have blogged on this topic many times before, but now I will try to give you a "best practices" guide to hassle free carry-on use.

  1. Know The Rules - Double check the carry-on guidelines with your airline.  The size and weight guidelines tend to vary a bit from airline to airline, so be sure to get specifics.  For example, your 35lb. suitcase might fine with one carrier, but will have to be checked with another.  Carriers also have varying linear size limits.  Check out our Travel Center for more tips, guidelines, etc.
  2. Know Your Size - Are you planning on domestic travel, international travel, or both?  This is very important, since domestic regulations limit the carry-on bag size to a 22" bag, whereas the international limit is 20".  If you plan on using the same suitcase for all your travels, I suggest getting a 20".  I personally travel with a Skyway Celebrity 19" Expandable Case.
  3. Beware of the Liquid Restrictions - In case you didn't know yet, the TSA has restrictions on liquids.  All liquids must be in 3oz. containers which all need to fit into one clear ziplock bag. You can technically go out and buy mini bottles of shampoo, shaving cream, lotion, toothpaste, etc.  However, my preferred solution is purchasing a TSA approved bottle kit.   This allows you to not only bring your favorite shampoo, lotion, etc with you, but it also will save you money because the mini bottles are grossly marked up.  The Eagle Creek Pack-It Custom Travel Bottle Set is my favorite because it contains squeeze bottles, a pump bottle, a spray bottle and a toothbrush holder all conveniently packed into a custom reusable zipper bag.
  4. How to fit everything you need into one bag - when going on longer trips, it becomes harder to fit everything you need into your carry-on, especially if you are traveling to colder climates and packing bulky clothes.  My favorite solution is compression bags.  If you have a few extra large heavy duty ziplock bags handy, you can pack them full, and press the air out of them.   However the ziplocks are prone to tears and they do slowly refill with air, so you need to pack fast.  My suggestion is to spring $20 or so, and buy a set of compression bags (Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor Set).
  5. Check Your Lock - If you are going to lock your luggage, be sure that you are using TSA approved locks.  This can benefit you in several ways.  First, if you bag needs to be searched, you don't need to fiddle around for the key, every TSA agent has a master key.  Second, if you make the bonehead mistake of forgetting or losing your key, you will be able to have a TSA security agent open it for you - save yourself a trip to the hardware store and $25 on bolt cutters (personal experience).
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