Tips For Packing Your Carry-On in Case Your Luggage Is Lost

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luggageIt is the nightmare every traveler dreads, arriving at your destination without your luggage. You could be in Tel-Aviv yet your luggage is in Timbuktu.

With only your carry-on possessions to your name how are you to survive?

Well here are my tips for packing your carry-on in case your luggage is lost.

First of all be like a scout. I don’t mean dress in a fancy uniform with knee length shorts going “Dib Dib Dib”. I mean follow their motto and “Be prepared”.

Prepare for your trip in advance so that you know what you might need. Have you been on this trip before? Why are you going? Are you staying with friends/relations or staying in a budget or high class hotel?

This all helps as you’ll know what is on the other side when you arrive, just in case your luggage doesn’t.

Documentation. First of all you’ll need all your important documentation. You’ll already have your passport (if travelling internationally) and your airline tickets. Make sure you’ve got your accommodation details and contact numbers. You’ll need these to pass onto the airline so they can deliver your luggage when it arrives. You also need to get to your digs!

Make sure you have your travel insurance documentation handy too. Getting support out of an airline in these circumstances can be hit and miss. In the current climate, or if it is a budget airline the allowance to provide emergency items can be limited or non-existent. If the airline doesn’t provide enough compensation or cover then call your insurer and find out what you can claim and how to do it. (There is no point buying a fancy set of Armani jeans if your insurer wont pay for them.)

Clothing. You’ll need something to wear so pack some light, spare clothing. The lighter it is then the better it is to carry. Also if you roll up your clothes nice and tight then there is less chance of them creasing. If you are not sure exactly what to pack then at least bring some change of underwear. You might get by for a day or two wearing the same shirt or trousers but sock and undies are better fresh.

Medication. Medication is something which some people can’t do without. In some cases not having it can be life threatening. Keep at least a few days supply in your hand luggage. If you need to carry anything which maybe difficult to get past security (syringe etc) then have the appropriate medical documents handy.

If you have contact lenses then you can bring a little travel kit with you. Have a spare set of lenses (if you use monthly disposables), a small bottle of lotion and lens holder set.

Toiletries. Toiletries are variable as to how much you need. If you have sensitive skin then you may not be able to use complimentary items in a hotel. If your not allergic and have stayed in hotels before then maybe take a few of the complimentary toiletries in the room for future trips. They are great as a travel size fit and don’t take up too much space.

Gents, pack an electric shaver such as a Philishave. You might struggle to get a razor blade past security.

Before you travel make sure you know the restrictions by airline and airports for carry on liquids. These change from time to time so make sure your containers are not too large or too numerous. Also have a seal-able see through plastic bag to place them in. Best to wrap them in a second bag just in case of leaks.

Chargers. Electronics rule our lives nowadays and few people travel without a mobile phone. There’s nothing worse than trying to call home to let them know you are okay to find your battery is flat. Make sure your phone charger and any other charger for essential work items (laptop, tablet etc) are in your carry-on. If you shop around you can find a multi-charger for various devices. The less chargers you have to pack the better.

As a word of warning: it is always best to have any electronics or valuables in your hand luggage. I know of too many occasions where these items have gone missing from people’s check-in luggage.

Whilst these are my tips for packing your carry-on in case your luggage is lost, there is one more important element. That is your carry-on bag! Check with your airline what their size and weight restrictions are for carry-on bags. There’s no point having all these essential items packed in a carry-on which you have to check-in since you can’t bring it on the plane.

Also try to get the lightest carry-on case (with wheels) as possible. Travelling light is a big plus and you don’t want to exceed the cabin luggage weight restriction. Weigh your packed bag before you go.

No doubt you’ll have on your person some money (for both your departure and arrival destinations) and maybe a credit/debit card or two.

Anything else you pack in your carry-on is a non-essential which might weigh you down. Before you pack electronics and books in your carry-on ask yourself do you really need it? If not you can probably manage without it. You can always find a book shop or buy a magazine on the other side.

As a recap, my tips for packing your carry-on in case your luggage is lost:


  1. Documentation:- Hotel/address details and travel insurance.
  2. Clothing:- Underwear essential. Keep the clothing light and wrap up to avoid creasing.
  3. Medication:- All the things you essentially need, plus the stuff you can’t buy locally.
  4. Toiletries:- If you are staying in a hotel these are likely to be provided, so just pack key items and Gents, don’t forget your electric razor!
  5. Chargers:- For your mobile phone and essential electronic items (keep these to a minimum).


So there you have it, my top 5 tips for packing your carry-on in case your luggage is lost.

Have a safe journey!

Steven Clare uses the pen name of “The Guy” on the website
The rants, ramblings and ruminations of a frequent traveller.

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