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The Carry-On Conundrum

Flying in an airplane can be a trying experience – you basically allow yourself to be hurled through the atmosphere inside a metal tube, and that is an intrinsically unnatural thing. The long lines, the interminable wait, the mediocre food, the helplessness of being trapped inside a cramped space with a couple of hundred people for long hours… the experience can easily turn into a nightmare.

Fortunately, technology can help save your sanity or simply help you pass the time. Your trusty gadgets can help you survive the ordeal of a plane ride.

However, a new challenge comes up whenever you bring something inside a plane. Repeated security checks (and locally, the threat of laglag-bala) are always a hassle. Compounding this annoyance is the fact that the rules change in every airport. Some are lax, while some are stricter and would require you to take out all the gadgets in your carry-on bag for inspection. And since airport security pretty much have the final say on what you can and cannot bring, there’s one rule you should remember: don’t bring anything you’re not prepared to lose. Whether it’s due to unscrupulous baggage handlers or just an overzealous security agent, you may be forced to leave behind your precious gadgets.


Tablets are a godsend for the traveler. It’s powerful enough to do most of the functions of a mid-range laptop and far lighter to carry. Aside from its entertainment functions, you can also load the presentations and documents you need to study for your business trip on your tablet so you can do away with your laptop. For those long flights, bring along a tablet holder (like a gorilla pod) – it might just save you from neck pains.

However, as stated before, rules change on every airport. Tablets are generally allowed in your carry-on bag – unless (for whatever reason), the security personnel wants you to bring it out.


Not everyone would love to hear star-crossed lovers Tenten and Serena go through their Fil-Italian love story. And it would be quite annoying to keep hearing the various beeps and explosions of video games. For the peace of mind of your fellow travelers, keep your entertainment private by using earphones.

As an added bonus, noise-cancelling earphones will also help you block out crying babies, the strange noises of the plane, and all other distractions. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled noise-cancelling earphone, you can be comfortable (and tangle-free) in your own bubble with such an indispensable travel device.


Cameras and lenses are generally ok to stay in your bag; tripods (and selfie sticks), however, can be construed as a club-like weapon. Best thing would be to separate it from your main device. Put your tripod (if you really have to bring it) in your luggage and keep your camera in your carry-on. Your expensive investment might not survive the notoriously uncaring practices of baggage handlers.  Word of caution: you might encounter complications regarding your extra batteries. Inspectors might get iffy when you bring a good number of extra batteries so it’s best to do some advance research on how many you’re allowed to bring.


It’s tempting to just put your big, heavy laptop in your check-in luggage, but unless you have a back injury, I won’t recommend it. There’s simply too many things that could go wrong. It’s too tempting a target for theft or might simply end up in the other side of the world. Fortunately, your other devices (tablets, notebooks) can do most of what your laptop does, so if possible, just leave your laptop at home. But if you absolutely have to bring it with you in your trip, put it in your carry-on bag.

Supposedly, there are some bags that are inspection-ready and you won’t have to pull out your laptop when you’re going through the security check, but I’ve found this to be a hit-and-miss thing. Depending on the airport or even at the mood of the security officer, they might ask you to put your laptop on a separate plastic bin to go through the machine.l4


Traveling involves a lot of planning; you can have a thousand and one things to mind and still forget the essentials. Power adaptors are one of those things that people usually forget, and it’s an annoyance you can do without. I once had to get inventive when I forgot my adaptors – the hotel didn’t have the proper adaptor for my devices so I had to plug my tablet and phone on the USB ports of my room TV. It was inefficient and it took a lot of time, and it taught me to never leave my adaptors behind again.


All the gadgets in the world will not avail you if you don’t have power. Since power drain is a notorious problem for most smart
devices, you’re bound to be a wall-hugging, outlet-hunting shmuck if you don’t have a reliable powerbank with ample fuel for your devices.

Of course, not all powerbanks are created equal. Since space and convenience is a concern, pick the highest-capacity/most reliable/space efficient powerbank you can find. Do away with those cheap, low-capacity freebies a lot of companies give out as corporate giveaways. This is an important peripheral and you should get one that wouldn’t let you down.


This one doesn’t need to go in your carry-on, but would be a useful tool in your travels. Water is something you’ll always need, especially if you’re going through all the famous sites. However, even a small water bottle can be quite expensive – particularly if you’re in tourist-trap places such as Rome or Paris. A reusable filtration bottle can save you hundreds of dollars in your travels.

Keep them in your luggage when you’re in the plane and then bring them in your backpack when you’re about to hit the tourist spots. Not only will you save money, you’ll be safer from untimely tummy troubles just in case the water is suspect where you’re traveling.


Flying and kids are a bad combination. But if it can’t be helped, a portable game console can help your kid not lose his mind. Bring a Nintendo 3Ds, a Sony PS Vita, an Nvidia Shield, or if you’re old school – the trusty brick game and you’re guaranteed hours of fun.

However, you should always be considerate with your fellow passengers. Since video games can be noisy, make sure to turn down the sound or use.


Another one of those often-left-behind essentials, organizations systems (like the Grid It) can make your travel a lot easier. If all your cables and powerbanks are in order and in one place, you won’t have to scramble and search for them every time you need something.

Also, when your cords are all tangled up and all over your bag, it could look something of concern in the security scan and will result in closer inspection and delays. Save yourself the trouble and organize them properly for a breezy time in the security queue. (Photo from )

Not everyone loves the in-flight entertainment in airplanes, so it’s best to bring your own devices with you when you fly. By keeping convenience and consideration for others in mind, you can lessen the hassles of flying and maximize the fun in your travels.