10 must pack items for your carry-on

Packing for a foreign outreach can seem like a daunting task. What should I wear? Can I wash clothes or should I bring enough clean clothes for the entire trip? Will I have standard electrical outlets? Do I need a passport, (easy answer, YES)? The list of questions can be endless. First thing you should do...take a DEEP breath. This isn’t rocket science and you’ll do just fine. 

If you’re joining Dwellings, you can go to our locations page and download a comprehensive short term outreach manual from whatever destination you’re headed and you’ll find a complete list of what to pack. However, if you’re looking for a quick reference of 10-MUST-HAVE items for your carry-on bag, look no further:

  1. Passport - Unless you’re headed to a destination inside the US, you MUST have a passport. Most countries require that you have a minimum of 6 months remaining on your passport dates. Be sure to check your expiration and apply early for new documents if needed. If needed, check out the US Dept of State website for info on how to obtain a new passport. (Side note - many US based international airports now use mobile passport. This is a free app you can download on your phone. Do yourself a favor and grab this time saving tool! It’ll save you TONS of time as you enter US customs by sending you to a much shorter line.)
  2. Visa - Some international destinations require you to have a travel visa in order to enter the country, (ie Cuba). Be sure you have this document safely stored along with your passport as you head to the airport. It will be needed as you exit the US and as you enter customs at your destination.
  3. Pen - Almost every destination country still requires you to fill out entry documents prior to your flights arrival. Airlines are happy to provide you with the documents, but unless you enjoy begging for writing utensils from your seat mate, you’ll want to have a pen handy to fill those bad boys out.
  4. Power Strip - Let’s face it, you’re probably packing a phone, camera, small computer or tablet, Bluetooth headphones, portable fan, travel ninja blender and the kitchen sink. What I’m saying is, you need power. You’re house might have a plethora of electrical outlets, but it’s more than likely that your destination does not. Have this power strip handy so that everything that needs juice, gets it. 
  5. Charging Cables - This sort of goes with the power strip. I mean, what good is the power strip if you can’t plug anything in to it? Bring those cables so that the power can continue to flow.
  6. Change of Clothes - If I had a dollar for every time I arrived at a destination and my checked bag arrived elsewhere...I’d probably only have like 4 bucks, but regardless, it CAN happen. And the last thing you want is to be in the sweltering heat of the Caribbean with absolutely NO change of clothes.
  7. Medications - You might have some important medications that you simply cannot live without. Don’t let these out of your sight, (meaning, put them in your carry-on, not your checked bag)!
  8. Cash - Again, this may seem obvious, but if you’re planning on brining cash for personal shopping or donations while you’re on your trip, it’s best to keep this closer to you and not left in your checked bag.
  9. Tickets - Whether you have paperless or a printed boarding pass, don’t leave home without this! You’ll look pretty strange trying to run down the jetway with 20 screaming TSA agents in tow attempting to board your flight without a ticket.
  10. Whatever you feel you CANNOT live without - This will be different for every person. Maybe it’s your rainbow stuffed unicorn, or possibly your blood pressure meds. Whatever it might be, don’t leave home without it and make sure it stays close to you. 

Remember that everything you pack in your carry-on must agree with the TSA’s approved items list. You can find that here. Do your best to pack in a smaller, soft style backpack. Overhead storage in an airplane can fill up fast and you don’t want to have to check your carry-on. 

Jeremy Dyck