<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=766060260189124&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Packing A Carry On VS Checked Luggage

Posted by Cherish Germaine on 8/31/16 11:30 AM


When getting ready to live abroad for a semester, you are going to need to pack everything into a couple of bags .... but where to pack everything? 

In the past, we've given our insider tips on what to pack for your semester abroad, but if you're wondering whether to pack something in your carry on luggage or checked luggage, you've come to the right place. 

Pst: We're also here to help you plan your gap year!

Before you start packing, make sure you check and double check the baggage requirements and restrictions with the airline you are flying. Most airlines allow 1 or 2 checked bags, one carry on item and a personal item, before they start charging ridiculous fees, but make sure you check with your airline, don't just assume!

Carry On (and/or Personal Item)

Pack things into your carry on and your personal item that you'll want in case your checked luggage gets lost, and things you'll want during your flight (like your book or laptop). Here's what I like having in my carry on: 

An extra outfit (or two)

Packing an extra outfit is a great idea just in case you or your checked luggage get delayed a day or two.

Some toiletries

Stuck on a long flight? You are going to want to wash your face and brush your teeth about 11 hours in. Just make sure you pack your travel-sized versions so they make it past security (bottles larger than 3.4 oz aren't allowed!).

Pst: Here's how to make all of your liquids fit in your carry on. 

Passport and Other Important Documents

Don't accidentally pack these in your checked bag! Not only do you need your passport to get your plane ticket but you also need it when you arrive in a new country. Here's our passport safety tips so you won't have to deal with the headache of losing your passport.  

Besides my passport, I like having a print out of my itinerary, important phone numbers and other important info to have in case of an emergency.


Some flights give you a decent amount of food during long flights, but I still prefer to pack my own snacks. Pack snacks that don't crumble easily and remember - no liquids.

Something to do

You'll want to bring something to entertain yourself during your layovers and flights but you'll want to make sure you don't bring too much stuff  —  I would recommend bringing a Kindle (or a book), a small book of puzzles like sudoku or crosswords, a deck of cards, and your smartphone. Don't forget to bring headphones, so you can listen to music, and your charger(s). 

Extra Cash

I always carry some money with me in case your credit/debit card isn't accepted or doesn't work. It's always best to be prepared.


If you're going to be traveling with a laptop, don't pack it in your checked luggage.  

On this note, really anything of value should stay in your carry on so that it's always with you!

ILP China

Main Suitcase (Checked Luggage)

With your checked luggage, what you pack in it isn't as important ... as long as it all fits, you're pretty much set. However, here are a few things to keep in mind when packing. 

Teaching Supplies/Prizes

 If you're going abroad with ILP, you'll need to pack your own prizes and teaching supplies (after all, you'll be traveling and teaching English to a class of cuties!) There should be in your checked bags. Just in case your bags get lost, we highly recommend splitting your supplies and clothes between 2 bags ... you don't want to land in a foreign country and realize that the suitcase that made it there only contained things like glue sticks and construction paper! 


You don't worry about fitting your huge bottle of shampoo and conditioner into your suitcase when you can just buy these when you arrive. Travel size containers are great to use while you get settled, then you can just run to the store and grab full-sized versions of what you need. 

But, we still suggest you bring your own deodorant to last the whole semester.  Some countries don't have it readily available to buy or it is really expensive or it doesn't work all that great, this is especially true in Asia. With all other toiletries, unless you are super picky on what brand you use, save the space and buy it there. 

ILP Europe

Ready to travel abroad? International Language Programs (ILP) send volunteers to many countries around the world. You'll be able to make a difference teaching English abroad or by volunteering in an orphanage .... but will also have weekends off and vacation days to explore other countries! 

See what it takes to be an ILP volunteer here, and get your questions answered by chatting with an ILP representative: 

New Call-to-action

Topics: Semester Preparation, Travel Tips

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

Popular Posts

Subscribe to Email Updates