When you travel a lot, your carry-on becomes something of a lifeline. They often hold important items like a laptop, a change of clothes, a travel snack, not to mention all your important documents for successfully traversing airport security measures. However, your carry-on can also very quickly become over-stuffed with things you want to have on hand to the point of making it difficult to actually retrieve anything when you need it. If you keep winding up digging to the bottom of the bag to fish out something small and important, then you need an alternative solution to carry personal items that doesn’t count a second carry-on.
The Best Ways to Carry Personal Items
Fortunately, there are variety of ways to pack small personal items that are more like cargo-attire than a bag that needs to be checked. This can allow you to manage your important items, documents, and devices while keeping your carry-on stuffed full of emergency gear just in case you get stranded in the airport due to inclement weather or something similar.
1. Inner Coat Pocket
You might be surprised just how many people forget that nice coats often have an inner breast pocket in which a phone or wallet might be stored. Some jackets even have two inner pockets, one on each side. If you wear a subtle cargo-jacket to the airport, these inner pockets can be conveniently used to stash not just the phone and wallet but a variety of other important items. A folded boarding pass, travel earbuds, your passport, and even a small granola bar can be stashed for quick and easy access whether you’re walking the airport, going through security, or already seated on the plane.
2. Fanny Pack
Many people who don’t have convenient inner coat pockets choose to keep their most important items strapped to their waist in what has commonly become known as a ‘fanny pack’. With modern sleek designs, these are no longer embarrassing to wear and can help you to keep track of your wallet, phone, charger, any spare money, a small first aid kit, and a few other small personal items to boot. Your best bet for a comfortable fanny back is one that is wide and flat so that it sits comfortably with you but is still easy to pull around and open to get at your items. Because the fanny pack isn’t luggage sized and is actively strapped to your body, it does not count as an ‘extra bag’ by airport standards making it easy to carry personal items.
3. Drop-Leg Bag
Like the convenience of a traditional fanny pack but don’t like the style? A drop-leg back is a special kind of travel pack specifically designed for workmen like those who might work on construction or plumbing. The drop-leg bag consists of a waist loop, a leg loop, and hangs the bag flat against your outer thigh with a lower strap to hold it there. This allows you to use the various sections and pouches to sort and organize your personal effects and these bags are often big enough to even conveniently store a tablet as well. The beauty of a drop-leg bag is that it can be worn around the airport without being seen as luggage and it doesn’t even get scrunched up when you sit down. The drop-leg bag stays conveniently accessible even when you’re seated on the airplane.
4. Small Shoulder Satchel
The next trick is to actually take a bag, but a small one that will fit under your jacket and is only big enough to hold maybe a tablet, your wallet and phone, and a few slips of important paper. This sleek solution is like the drop-leg bag for people who aren’t comfortable with a satchel attached to their leg. Kept under a jacket, a small satchel with a shoulder strap slung across your body is completely invisible, allowing you to reach ‘into your jacket’ to retrieve what you need. Of course, even if the airport is warm and the jacket comes off, most airport agents won’t make you check a bag that isn’t much larger than an envelope.
5. Cargo Pants
Another great option is to simply wear cargo pants to carry personal items. These trousers tend to be loose and voluminous around the legs with large spacious pockets not just at the waist and back where you’re used to but down along the sides as well. As long as you don’t mind your items rattling around a bit, cargo pants can provide a surprising amount of roomy personal item storage that you can count on being left alone by TSA agents and plane boarding assistants. Just be sure that you know exactly what is in your pockets that could set off a metal detector and pull them out at the right moment, otherwise you might be emptying your pockets for several minutes before you can pass the security checkpoint.
6. Wallet-Phone Case
Finally, there’s the wallet phone case. If you’ve ever wanted to keep your phone and wallet in the same package, unable to be separated, this is your solution. A wallet-phone case starts as a normal leather wallet with all the useful little pouches and slots to keep your cards, cash, and change in. However, the back of the wallet forms a sturdy reinforced pocket big enough to hold most smartphones along with a small strap to hold everything in place. While this solution is a little bulkier than a normal wallet, it can also be easily stowed or clipped to your belt and ensures that you’ll be able to carry personal items with ease.
Savvy travel is all about knowing your environment and your own personal travel habits. If you tend to lose things in your carry on or over-pack emergency items when all you really need are your wallet, phone, and boarding pass, having a small additional solution to carry personal items is a great way to make sure the most vital items are always at hand.