Updated February 26, 2020
Whether you travel light or bring multiple bags every time, there's an art to organizing your carry-on. It's important to stow your essentials -- from travel documents to toiletries -- in your unchecked bags to avoid complications on your next cruise.
Think of packing hand luggage as a way of having access to the essential items you'll need, both during embarkation day and once you're onboard if -- worst case -- your checked luggage is lost. View our picks for the top items to put in your carry-on and why, and you'll be prepared for any scenario.
1. Travel documents
In addition to boarding documents, cruise lines also require all passengers to present government-issued identification -- either a passport or a driver's license and birth certificate -- in order to embark. If you tuck these items safely into your smallest carry-on (such as a purse or backpack), you'll prevent loss and keep everything easily accessible.
To help you stay even more even more organized, we recommend this water-resistant travel document organizer.
When it comes to the treatment of serious illnesses or chronic conditions, medications can literally mean the difference between life and death. Pack your pills in a case that's easy to read and large enough to store your doses -- but small enough to keep with you while you're in transit. Few things are more scary than putting your meds in a checked bag and finding out the airline or dockside porter has lost it.
Create your own travel-friendly pharmacy with this travel pill organizer.
3. Wallet and valuables
Although cruise ships use a cashless system onboard, passengers still need credit cards or cash to set up their accounts. These are also essential in port if you're hoping to withdraw money, make souvenir purchases or book independent excursions when you arrive. Never ever put your wallet or purse in a checked bag. If your luggage is lost or stolen, you don't want to be caught without funds during the trip of a lifetime.
Keep your cash and cards close (and safe) with this locking, RFID-blocking Flipside wallet.
4. Change of clothes
There's nothing like a flight or a long drive to make you feel grimy. On embarkation day, you'll leave large bags with a porter at the dock, and it's not unusual for that luggage to take hours to arrive at your cabin or, in more rare cases, to be lost. To be sure you have something clean to change into before dinner, pack an extra set of underwear and clothes in your carry-on, tote or backpack. You might also want to toss in a swimsuit and pajamas in case it takes ages for the rest of your stuff to show up.
Much like having an extra set of clothes readily available, it's also a good idea to stash a few essential toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant, in your hand luggage so you can freshen up before your checked bags arrive -- or in the event they're lost. If you're flying to your port of embarkation, just remember that, per Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations, carry-on liquids must be in containers of no more than 3 ounces each, and all must fit in a clear quart-sized bag for inspection when you go through security.
Make packing toiletries easy with these reusable bottles.
From cellphones and e-readers to headphones and chargers, there are lots of gadgets you might find essential to your trip. If that's the case, be sure to keep them all in one place to avoid the loss or breakage that could result from checking them.
Also, be sure to keep the charging cords with each gadget. The last thing you want is to whip out your camera to take a fantastic photo, only to discover your battery is dead because your charger is someplace else.
Prevent your cords and wires from becoming a tangled mess with the help of an organizer for your gadgets, gizmos, cords and cables.