Gesten Van der Post

Gesten Van der Post

Traveller extraordinaire. Very little is known of Gesten except that he (maybe she) likes croissants. And coffee.

What NOT to Pack in Your Carry On Bag

Travelling light usually means carry on bags only. To avoid problems with security, make sure you know what you can and cannot pack in your cabin baggage.

We all love traveling, right? Well, of course! Traveling means meeting new people, having new experiences, checking something off our bucket list and getting to know ourselves a little bit better. And every trip starts with deciding what to take with us in our luggage. But, when you think about, it would best to bring just one carry-on bag. It is going to be easier to move around, you will have less stuff to lug with you, and of course, it is going to be much cheaper as you will not have to pay the luggage fee. However, carry-on bags, just like regular luggage, come with some restrictions. So, if you plan or traveling soon and taking only your carry-on bag, here is some advice on what not to pack in your cabin bag.

Liquids over 100ml (3.4oz)

The ‘liquids rule’ is pretty universal, and almost all flying companies have the same rule – all liquids must be packed in bottles or containers that are no bigger than 100ml (3.4 ounces). Also, all of these containers must be placed in a clear zip bag as well. Even if you have full-size bottles that are only half full, you will have to live them behind. What you can do is simply buy travel size containers and fill them with your shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, or any other liquid you need. You can also buy other things that are already made to fit into your carry-on bag like travel size toothpaste, soap, different moisturisers and so on. This is a very helpful airport tip if you want to travel in a hassle-free manner.


If you’re planning on travelling to somewhere with a high crime rate, you might be considering something for self defence. Pretty much any item that can be considered a weapon won’t be allowed in your hand luggage, so best leave it at home, or in your hold luggage. Pepper spray, for example, is never allowed in carry on luggage, but could be allowed in your hold luggage. But, not every airline company has the same rules, and it also depends on the country you’re heading to. Make sure to check the regulations before you start packing items like pepper spray or mace.

Guns, of course, cannot be carried in your hand luggage – and many countries won’t permit importing guns either – so check with your destination and airline before packing a firearm.

Sharp Objects

It can be easy to forget that a simple pair of scissors or a shaving razor could be misconstrued as a weapon, but sharp objects will definitely be confiscated at security. Avoid bringing any knives, scissors, metal nail files, razors, box cutters, ornamental swords, Swiss army knives and so on. All of these can be confiscated by the agent easily. If you’re just off on a long weekend, travelling for longer, or if you’re moving to a new city such as New York, remember to keep your sharp objects in your hold luggage!

Tools and sharps need to go in hold luggage! by Juraj Varga from Pixabay 

Sporting Equipment

Most sporting equipment also falls under the potential weapon heading, so keep them in your checked luggage. Things like golf clubs, baseball bats, bows and arrows, darts, or indeed anything with stick, bat or pole in the name can easily be used as a weapon. If you plan on having an active holiday, simply rent that sporting equipment when you arrive at your destination. However, if you are really attached to the equipment you already own, you can put it into your checked luggage, but never in your carry-on bag.

Fruits, Vegetables, and Meat

This rule can vary depending on the airline company you are using or country you’re visiting. If you’ve been on a weekend trip somewhere nice, any maybe you want to bring your family or partner some delicious treats to try, make sure to pack it in your checked luggage. You can usually bring food to eat during the flight in your carry-on bag, but make sure to eat everything before you land. Some countries do not allow bringing any agricultural products and the agents may confiscate them on your arrival.

Some meats may not be allowed in hand luggage
Mmmm, forbidden sausage!  by alexandbremer from Pixabay

Combustible items

Lighters, matches and any other easily flammable items are strictly prohibited on the plane, both in your carry-on bag and in your checked luggage. So, be sure to leave these at home. You can easily buy them anywhere when you arrive at your destination. Moreover, if you plan on bringing your cooking and camping gear, you must check the regulations. Some companies allow bringing camping stoves, for example, only in your carry-on bag, and only if they are completely empty of all fuel.


Moving to a new home? If your partner has reminded you that you’ll need to put some shelves up when you arrive, you might need to put those tools in the hold. Most tools could be construed as a weapon, including power tools and items such as hammers and screwdrivers. Er on the safe side and don’t carry tools in your carry on luggage.

Image by free stock photos from from Pixabay 


Obviously, right? Live animals in your carry on bag are a no-no, unless you have organised it with the airline before hand. Domestic flights are more likely to let you take an animal on, no problems, but international flights may require permits, quarantine, jabs and other such precautions.

This also applies in the case of dead animals, or sample tissue, body parts or dried animals. Hopefully you’re not bringing back your game hunting trophy (we definitely disapprove of that – animals look better alive, so just go on safari instead), but you may need to check import rules around animal parts.

Some items you can pack in you carry on luggage

These items may not necessarily be banned, but you might need to pay attention to how you pack them.


Some airlines request that you stow them in your checked luggage, others may allow them in your hand luggage. The best bet is to check with your airline. Normally, you will need to remove the battery and put the liquid into your liquids bag.

Perfumes & aerosols

Yes, you can carry perfumes and aerosols in your hand luggage, but they need to comply with the 100ml rule. They also need to fit in your liquids bag.


When carrying medication in your hand luggage, it is highly advisable to get a note from your doctor about your medical requirements before you travel. If you require a large amount of medication that might use up your carry on allowance, some airlines will let it through as additional luggage, at no extra cost, with prior arrangement. Contact your airline before flying to confirm.

Smelly food

Dried fish, smelly cheese, funky fruit? In theory, these are all allowed in your luggage but are subject to the rules of your destination country. Keep them sealed as best as possible to keep the stinky in.

Try leaving France WITHOUT buying cheese! by corinnabarbara from Pixabay


Your smart devices, laptops and other gizmos are all allowed in your hand luggage. You may need to take them out of your bag when going through security and you will most likely need to either put them in ‘flight mode’ during the flight, or switch them off if they don’t have that option.

Items like drones, professional cameras and other electronics are also allowed. But, keep in mind the size of your carry on luggage!

Need a good carry on bag? We recommend these great quality cabin sized luggage bags. Get all your stuff in, and look cool doing it.

Travelling light is the way to go, but make sure you stick to the rules regarding what you can and cannot carry in your hand luggage. You might find yourself starting your trip with an unwelcome detour…

Have we missed anything? Let us know if there is a crucial item you should not pack in your carry on luggage. And, feel free to share airport nightmare stories with us in the comments below!

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