First time flying: How to pack for your first flight

First time flying: How to pack for your first flight | Mexatia

From year to year airport controls are becoming more rigorous; more and more items are on the “forbidden items” list and the airlines are changing the way of business so the flights are becoming more expensive, the services offered during the flight are being charged more often and there are more luggage restrictions.

No matter which airline you have chosen, your first flight can be quite stressful. Before you get on the plane, you need to be very well informed. There is lots of “little things” that are of a great importance and you need to know them all before heading to the airport. More about the procedure on the airport you can read HERE, and below you can find few useful first time flying tips and learn how to pack for your first flight.

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What MUST I take on a trip?

There are only two things you should never forget: the identity card or passport (depending on where are you traveling to) and money and/or bank cards. You can survive without all the other things. Those are the main two items you should be especially taking care of while traveling. The lost document brings problems both in the destination and your native country and money… well, you know. Among the other things you need to bring, there are the camera, cell phone, and earplugs. Earplugs can be very useful if you are going to sleep in hostels, airplane or any noisier place.

How much luggage am I allowed to take on board?

Each plane ticket clearly states the quantity and weight of luggage you may bring with you on a board. Economy class passengers are allowed to carry one piece of hand baggage (some companies allow you to also bring a laptop bag, ladies handbag or some other small bag, while some are strictly limited to that one piece) and one piece of checked baggage without a surcharge. Please note, if you are flying with low-cost airline company, you will need to pay for anything bigger than hand luggage.

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The weight allowance differs from company to company, but usually weight limits are from 8 (up to 10) kg (from 17.5 to 22 lbs) for the carry-on baggage and up to 23 kg (51 lbs) for the checked baggage. Any excess weight is properly charged, so it is cheaper to bring less baggage or, if you really need it, check-in the additional bag. Prices for the extra bags differ from airline to airline, but usually they vary from €50 to €100 (or $) per bag (for example, Delta charges $100, Croatia Airlines and Lufthansa €75). Some airlines, like Emirates or Qatar, allow you to bring 30 kg free of charge. However, you cannot check in additional luggage but only pay for extra kilograms – which can be extremely expensive. 

Always check luggage restrictions of your company and do test packing to make sure you will not spend few more hundreds just because you needed ten pairs of shoes. The key question is how you will know how heavy is your luggage? Online you can find lots of different and cheap luggage scales that can be of enormous help while traveling. I got mine for around $5 and it was the best traveling investment so far.

Luggage is also limited by the size. The total sum of hand luggage dimensions is limited to 115 cm (45’’) and checked baggage to 158 cm (62’’).

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Suitcase sizes – photo credit: Amazon


What can I put in the carry-on luggage? How to pack?

Hand baggage packing can be a real challenge, especially if that’s all the luggage you are traveling with. There are precise rules what you can pack into a carry-on and what is strictly forbidden.

Firstly, put all the electronic devices in the hand luggage. Airport workers will throw around your checked luggage and nobody will care if your laptop arrives at the destination with a cracked screen. So – all the electronic goes to the carry-on luggage. Cash and other valuable items also (money, keys, documents, glasses etc.).

The number of liquids you can bring to the cabin is strictly limited to 1 liter (33 oz) and every individual liquid must be in the container not bigger than 100 ml (3.3 oz). So, in hand luggage, you can pack up to ten liquids which must be placed in a clear plastic bag with zipper (similar to those for freezing food, just make sure that it has the zipper). The bags can be taken of bought at the airport. Term “liquids” includes things like lipsticks, mascara, toothpaste and some other items that we might forget when packing so they can make problems during the security check. The “liquids rule” does not apply to the fluids bought at the airport after passing the security control, so you can buy water, wine or some other liquid in the duty-free shop.

The hand baggage must not contain any sharp object (like knives, scissors, metal nail file, corkscrew…), weapons and weapon-looking toys and other potentially dangerous items. Such things can be transported in checked baggage only.

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Am I allowed to use electronics during the flight?

The electronics may be used during the flight, only not during the takeoff and landing, or when the cabin lit sign prohibits the use of electronic devices. So yes – you can listen to music, take pictures, use a laptop or even a mobile phone (last two only in the airplane mode).

Where do I collect my checked baggage?

Checked baggage needs to be collected at the destination airport. If you have the connecting flights (for example Zagreb – Zurich – New York City), the luggage is almost always collected in the final destination, in this case in New York City. Please take note, if you are flying to the USA, you will need to collect your luggage in first US destination, no matter is it final or not. Before landing, the cabin crew usually tell at which conveyor belt you would be able to find the luggage from your flight. Also, you can always check it on the screens located near the conveyor belts. The room where they are located can easily be found by following the direction of “baggage claim” signs after getting off the plane.

In order to easily find your luggage, buy some easily recognizable bag or put some sign on it. Usually, all the bags are black, blue or red. Yes, red. So buy yourself a different one, or put something bright on it (scarf, sticker…). It will make your life easier.

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Before the flight, always check what rules apply to your airline because some things can differ from company to company.

Have a safe flight!

Ps. If you are an experienced traveler, all of this may seem like a piece of cake. But remember how confused you were before your first flight! Do you have some other tips & trick how to pack for the first flight?


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18 Discussion to this post

  1. Arzo Travels says:

    As a travel addict flying has become so natural to me but I think this post is awesome to those who haven’t ever flown or hardly fly. Good tips!

  2. Sarah M says:

    Yes it does all seem so obvious now but I can remember my first long haul flight where I didn’t know where to get my bag from or whether to collect it in the connecting airport or whatever. They sometimes assume a knowledge that newbie travellers don’t have.

    • Luckily, my first flight was part of an organized trip to Rome, but the second one was a long haul to NYC. I had no idea what to do or where to go, as much it was self explanatory. Experience means so much in situations like this!

  3. Stacey says:

    Great post! Its awesome to have a guide because things change so often these days with regards to carry on ittems and luggage size etc. I always worry about my carry on size when travelling with different airlines

  4. These are really great tips for first time travelers. But even seasoned ones, I have gotten used to certain airlines and sometimes assume a new airline to me will be the same. You should always check because every airline has different rules on carry on and checked luggage. Also good to know what you can bring in a carry on, I see so many people get caught up waiting because there bags have to be checked several times. great tips!

    • Thank you! I was surprised the first time I have flown with Qatar because they did not allow me to check in additional bag, I would need to pay the crazy price by kilo.

  5. ilive4travel says:

    Great tips for new travellers. It’s surprising how many people don’t check weight allowance for their flight, it’s always the thing I do before booking a flight to make sure I won’t have a problem with my backpack or if I need to put heavier stuff in my hand luggage 🙂

  6. Great advice for a first timer. I have flown many times in my life but when I talk to people here in Fiji, so many of them have never been on a plane, let alone out of the country. It must be quite scary particularly as an adult to fly for the first time. The things we take for granted! Over the years you get better and packing your carry on and get a bit of a system going on.

  7. Janine says:

    Packing tips are always so important as the airlines change their requirements, prices, regulations etc. I love the new light luggage as the weight doesn’t take too much of your quota.

  8. Courtney Jones says:

    Great article for first time fliers! It’s hard to remember my first flight, but I can almost guarantee I had no clue what I was doing!

  9. omniyafareed says:

    there are some awesome tips in this article, especially for people who haven’t traveled before or dont have alot of travelling experience.

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