How To Carry-On Like A Pro

Mallory Brander
February 8, 2022

Five connections, two flight cancellations, and one forty mile-per-hour wind accompanied landing later, I have safely arrived in the Netherlands. Only one problem: the same cannot be said for my two neon orange suitcases. 

Luckily this isn’t my first time around the lost luggage block. In 2018 while traveling with a knitting production company (yeah you read that right), I was scheduled to be hitting five countries in nine days: Finland, Denmark, Norway, France, and Italy. I packed one large suitcase to the brim with all of my favorite pieces. With me on the plane I carried a small backpack packed with snacks, sunglasses, and scripts for the upcoming shoots. First stop: Finland. 

We arrive in the airport and one by one our videographers' clunky camera equipment appears on the baggage belt. One by one we watch our fellow airline patrons snatch up their bags and head on their way. Finally after one strange sole duffle bag has circled the stretch of black rubber belts, we accept that our bags have been lost. We file our luggage claim and leave with our backpacks and bad attitudes in hopes to find a shopping center. 

While Finland isn’t exactly the fashion company of the world, I had nothing but the clothes on my back so I quickly realized I needed to purchase some necessities. After much searching: we located an H&M and some form of drug store. Two plastic H&M bags, four countries, three sink-launderings, and eight sweaty summer days later: I was reunited with my bags. 

So this time around, I wasn’t taking any chances. 

After a somewhat treacherous entry into the Netherlands, learning how to traverse the tram system, cross endless canals, and maneuver the local markets without all of my luggage was made endlessly easier by my field researched carry on necessities. Here’s a comprehensive list of the things that made this luggage misalignment much, much easier:

  • ALL of your travel documents (passports, ID, tickets, treat these like gold when cruising different countries).
  • Every. Single. Pair of underwear you own (trust me this is what you’ll miss the most).
  • On a similar note: socks socks socks! (you don’t want your dogs to be barking after days of repeat sockage - and those are the slowest to dry after a sink scrubbing).
  • Chargers and converters (in this tech-defined world, not having these is pretty much a non-starter).
  • Two pairs of jeans (easiest thing to mix and match with: they’ll give you some normalcy).
  • Your biggest, comfiest tee shirt and a pair of sweats (for lounging purposes and …unless your roommate is cool with you sleeping in your birthday suit… you’ll be happy you have these).
  • A basic sweater, tee, and tank (layers are key, especially in the precarious amsterdam weather, and you have some variety).
  • Workout top, leggings, and sneakers (be sure to have the things that you need that help you maintain your routines. I personally workout for at least thirty minutes a day, so these things were life-savers).
  • A comfortable but stylish pair of shoes (not only will this save weight in your checked luggage, but you’ll want to have reasonable footwear options when running around the city).
  • Travel-sized toiletries (other than under-garments, this is what you’ll be missing the most…especially if you’re traveling to a country where your favorite products may be not so readily available).
  • An awesome roommate who will share her clothes and toiletries in a pinch (this may be a hard one to fit into your carry on, but for me it was the most crucial piece of the puzzle. Whether it was for a button up to look presentable during a job interview or a spare rain jacket to battle Amsterdam’s unpredictable rain patterns, my roommate was the true key in this carry on success story).
  • A good attitude (I know, I know, it’s cheesy AND easier said than done…But the most crucial part is to remember that your bags will arrive eventually and you have enough to focus on with exploring your new home to be thinking about your precarious possessions!).


More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Mallory Brander

<p>Hey everyone! I'm Mallory, a 20 year old originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Business and minoring in Social and Economic Justice as well as studio art. I'm a people person who loves all things travel so I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad in Amsterdam this spring!</p>

Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Tulsa, OK
Business Administration
Explore Blogs