Scared of losing your luggage? Here’s what you should always pack in your cabin bag - Scotland on Sunday Travel

Katie Wright runs through the items you might want to keep in your carry-on, in case of emergency.

Pic: Press Association Images
Pic: Press Association Images

The sight of hundreds of suitcases piled up at airportr recently – the result of a baggage handling backlog – is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most confident traveller.

It’s one thing if your luggage gets lost on the way home, but if you’re jetting off on a long-awaited holiday, being without your clothes and belongings, even for a few days, is a real hassle.

Even if you can claim insurance for any additional spending, you’ll still have to trudge around the shops (wasting valuable relaxation time) possibly in a heatwave, and you might not be able to find everything you need or want overseas. Not to mention you’ll have a drawer full of duplicate items when you get home with twice as much luggage.

That’s why it’s important to take essential items on board as part of your carry-on allowance – just in case the worst should happen. Here’s what you should always think about including in your hand luggage…

Important documents

Saving documents such as travel insurance policies, vaccination records and booking references on your phone or tablet is the easiest way to take them on board the plane with you– and it’s wise to keep digital copies accessible in your email inbox, too.

But for anything that has to be a hard copy, such as tickets or visas that can’t easily be replaced (even if you don’t need them until later in your trip), keep them in an easily-accessible folder or pocket in your hand baggage.

Pic: PA Photo/Alamy.


Depending on where you’re travelling, medicines can be tricky to replace – even if you have a prescription with you. Take at least a week’s worth of any medications that you rely on, and make sure to check before you travel, as restrictions on drugs such as painkillers can vary between countries.


As well as your phone and tablet or laptop, be sure to pack your chargers, cables and an adapter if necessary. A universal adapter with multiple USB ports is a great space saver and will save you having to shop around and possibly pay more for one once you reach your destination.

Pic: Press Association Images

Sentimental items

If the loss of an item would result in tears, don’t risk putting it in your checked bag. Jewellery gifted by a loved one, for instance, or a child’s favourite blanket/cuddly toy they can’t sleep without, should stay close at hand or be worn if it’s practical.

Spare clothes

Including a few items of clothing in your carry-on bag will save you from having to shop for replacements if your bag is delayed after your flight.

Top of the list should be underwear and swimwear (if you’re going on a beach holiday), plus a hat, sunglasses, and versatile items like shorts and tops so you can hit the beach while you wait for your luggage to catch up.

Always wear your most useful shoes on the plane – meaning trainers if you’re going to be doing lots of walking, or sandals if it’s a relaxed itinerary.


Unless you’re staying in a fancy hotel with mini toiletries, a small set of essentials (in bottles no larger than 100ml) is a good idea – and don’t forget sunscreen, which can be hugely overpriced in some holiday destinations.

You may also want to pack your make-up (because replacing a whole kit could be very costly) and a small bottle of travel wash – so you can launder and rewear your clothes, especially if you only have the spare clothes you’ve packed in your carry-on luggage to rely on.

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