Traveler’s Guide to Carry-on Essentials

If you pack lightly for airline travel, you already know that traveling “carry-on only” is the way to go—no worry that checked bags won’t make it to your destination when you do, less waiting in lines, fewer airline baggage fees. While the friendly drivers at Shuttle Express in Seattle handle your luggage for you when taking you to the airport, usually you’re on your own.

Here are some tips and tricks for packing a carry-on bag that you can live with, without sacrificing too much.

Choose the right carry-on bag.

Know the size and weight requirements for carry-ons with the airlines you travel on most, especially the smaller carriers, since they typically have less room.

Once you find a bag you like, make sure it will be comfortable to haul around and easy to get in and out of overhead bins. Backpacks and rolling duffel bags are  good options.

Choose your liquids and clothes carefully.

The one-quart plastic bag has never looked so small. So, when you’re packing your carry-on, get ruthless about what you actually need, since every single liquid item must fit in it. Some ideas:

  • Decide what you can live without—body wash, mouthwash, for example.
  • Buy the essentials at your destination, if possible—shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, sunscreen.
  • Invest in a few multi-purpose items, such as shampoo/conditioner combos.
  • Find non-liquid versions like make-up wipes versus liquid remover and bar soap instead of liquid wash. You can even find quality solid shampoos.
  • Use the hotel’s complimentary items.
  • Last resort: take a vacation from the many products you use.
  • If you’re traveling carry-on only, heed the long-standing advice to bring multipurpose clothing that can be layered and worn 20 different ways until Sunday.
  • Plan to wash clothes often.

Carry-on’s Most Wanted List:

Even if you’re checking luggage, here are items essential to a well-packed carry-on bag:

  • Cell phone and electronic device chargers
  • Earphones, e-reader, notepad and pen, anything to keep boredom at bay
  • Snacks like nuts or easily-packed fruit like bananas that can tide you over until you land
  • Lozenges or gum to ease any ear pressure or dry mouth
  • Face wipes and toothbrush to help refresh you during a long flight
  • Change of clothes if you’re checking luggage in case of lost bags or long flight delays

Need a ride to Sea-Tac Airport? Shuttle Express is here for you. As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free. So whether we’re driving you to Sea-Tac and back in a town car or shuttle, or transporting your office team of 150 to a group event in well-appointed motor coaches, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Book online at or connect with us at