9 Things You Should be Packing in Your Carry-on

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task.  

We previously posted about 8 things you are probably forgetting to pack for your trip, but there are also a number of things you will need to be sure to have in your carry-on.

Here is a list of some of the most common things you’ll wish you had remembered to pack in your carry-on.

1)      Eye Drops– The air in planes is very dry.  Especially if you plan to sleep on the flight, you will want to pack some eye drops to put the moisture back in your eyes when you wake up.

2)      Socks– I like to be as comfortable as possible when I fly.  Often I want to take my shoes off, but don’t want to freak other passengers out by sitting in my seat barefoot.  If you pack a pair of neutral socks no one will notice you getting comfortable and your toes will stay warm.

3)      Layers of clothing– Never underestimate how cold airplanes will be.  If you are going to a tropical location, you will probably want to wear shorts and a tank top.  Even if you are not, bring multiple layers to accommodate to the cabin temperature.

4)      Billow– Okay, so you can take a little pillow and blanket, but a billow (a blanket that is stored as a pillow) is more fun.  If it is cold on your flight or you just want to snuggle up, you are going to want to bring a pillow and blanket.

5)      Water and Snacks– Relying on the plane food is a terrible choice.  When you get bored, you typically get hungry, so even if you don’t think you will use it make sure to pack drinks and a snack to tide you over.

6)      Tylenol or other painkillers– Whether you experience muscle pain, back problems, headaches from the cabin pressure, or any other issue, you will be glad you packed a painkiller for a flight.

7)      Immune System Booster- Planes are known as breeding grounds for sicknesses, take Airborne or some form of vitamin C to protect yourself as much as possible from getting sick.

8)      Everything you will need if your luggage gets lost- many people only pack the things they foresee needing on the actual flight, but if your bag gets lost you are going to want things that cannot easily be obtained at your location.  Make sure you carry-on your prescriptions, phone charger, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and anything else you wouldn’t be able to make it two days without.

9)      Hotel and transit directions in paper form- On a trip to Spain, I made the mistake of saving the address and phone number of the people I was staying with on my Iphone and Laptop.  When I arrived, both devices had died and I was without any way of locating where I needed to go.  Make sure you have exactly what you need to get to your final destination on a piece of paper or something that cannot lose power.

If you think there is anything we are forgetting, let us know below!


Top Ten: Berlin (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Berlin, Germany)

Top Ten: Berlin (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Berlin, Germany)

Top Ten Berlin Germany

Photo Copyright: Karaoke in Mauerpark: juliaviajando https://www.flickr.com/photos/juliakranz/5068594882/ Wannsee Beach: ax11 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ax11/347230273/


1. Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City on a Balloon Ride.  In the center of Berlin, you can climb on one of the world’s largest helium balloons and see the city from the sky. The balloon is tethered to the ground and releases you slowly up then pulls you back down.  For just over $25, the ride is bargain compared to the cost of hot air balloon rides.  Bring your student ID or proof you are unemployed (everyone carries that around, right?) for a discounted fare.

2. Visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Not your average Holocaust Memorial, the Memorial includes an interactive structure composed of concrete rectangles eerily reminiscent of coffins.  The concrete slabs vary in height, but are arranged in a grid, intended to give visitors the feeling of a confusing atmosphere in a structured system. Definitely a unique sight worth stopping by.

3. Attend Karaoke in the Park. A new favorite activity of Berliners is Bearpit Karaoke in Mauerpark.  On Sundays around 3 PM, grab a cool beverage and join thousands of locals for a good laugh and some free entertainment at karaoke in park.

4. Drink Beer in a Biergarten. Drinking beer in Germany is a given, and the perfect place to do so is a beer garden.  Grab a famous Berliner Weiss and relax. Try Prater Garten, the oldest biergarten in town.

5. See What the Wall was like at the Berlin Wall Memorial. The Berlin Wall Memorial offers a look into what the Berlin Wall was like when it stood.  You can climb to the top of an observation deck to see all the obstacles separating the East and West sides of Berlin, which were much more complicated than just a wall.

6. Go on a Walking Tour of the City. I like to go on a walking tour the first day I’m in a new city to figure out the layout of the city and pick up helpful tips and suggestions from the guide and fellow travelers.  Berlin has a TON of history and interesting facts that you would likely miss if you were just wandering alone, making it the prime candidate for a tour.  We took the Free Sandeman’s New Berlin tour which we enjoyedbut I don’t think you can go wrong.

7. Stop by the East Side Gallery.  You can’t visit Berlin without seeing the Berlin Wall, it’s such a quintessential piece of the city’s history. Likewise, street art is a huge scene in Berlin. Combine the two and you get the East Side Gallery. Fun fact, the Berlin wall even caught the eye of a young lady, who called it “the sexiest wall ever” and married it in 1979 (no really,it happened).

8. Relax on a Lake Shore Beach. You read that correctly, I said beach in Berlin. Berlin has a few lake options that have beaches perfect for swimming and relaxing. Probably the best known, is Strandbad Wannsee on the west side of Berlin.  Though Strandbad Grunau, located on the far east side, is said to be more charming.

9. See the City from Above.  Who doesn’t love a sky high view? Panoramapunkt is a well known observation deck that offers arguably the best views in Berlin. If you want to try something a little less mainstream, check out the relatively new Klunkerkranich, a rooftop bar and hang out spot.

10. Day Trip to Visit Sachenhausen Concentration Camp.  Located less than an hour’s drive from Berlin, Sachenhausen is also accessible via public transportation.  Sachenhausen was one of the largest concentration camps during the Holocaust, and is an incredibly eye opening experience.  There are also tour and excursion companies that offer trips from the city, so if you’re hesitant about getting there on your own, that is a great option too.
See more things to do in Berlin and start planning your trip here




What You Need to Know About TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry

Separate your liquids, take off your shoes, remove your laptop and place it all in bins. Going through security can be quite a hassle. In 2011, TSA introduced a program called Pre-Check, which one could compare to the Fastpass at Disney World for security lines.  After application approval, travelers can enjoy separate security screening with shorter lines and added benefits.  A similar program, Global Entry, allows travelers to use separate (and thus faster) lines at customs and immigration.  Are the time, cost, and effort required to get Global Entry or Pre-Check worth it though?  Here’s what you need to know about the program.


– Faster security lines. Pre-Check travelers go through separate lines in security. Upon approval in either program, you will receive “TSA Pre-Check” mark on your boarding pass, which allows the TSA officers to direct you to the Pre-Check screening area. Pre-Check lines are usually much shorter and faster than regular security lines.

– Simplified Screening. Pre- check travelers are not required to remove liquids, laptops, or anything else from their bags for screening. You can simply place your bag in its entirety on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector with your shoes still on.

– Metal Detector instead of the Controversial Full Body Scanners.  Pre-Check travelers go through a metal detector instead of the full body scanners, which are criticized for being invasive. This also means there is no need to remove your shoes, jackets (coats do need to be removed), or belts.

– Global Entry. If you opt to apply for Global Entry, you get all the benefits of Pre-Check with the addition of separate lines in customs/immigration when traveling internationally.  You also do not have to fill out customs forms if you have Global Entry.


It’s hard to put a price on convenience, but the TSA found a way.  There is a $85 application fee for Pre-Check, which is non-refundable if you do not get accepted into the program.

For $15 more ($100), you can apply for Global Entry.  All approved Global Entry applicants get Pre-Check as part of the Global Entry program. So if you plan to travel internationally at all, it is definitely worth applying for Global Entry instead of just Pre-Check.   However, more enrollment centers accept Pre-Check applications than do Global Entry. Which means if you don’t live near a major airport, you may need to travel to an office that accepts Global Entry applications.

Both fees cover 5 years in the program, after which you will need to renew to remain in the program.

Some credit cards have started to reimburse customers for their Global Entry enrollment fees. Likewise, United offers reimbursement for the fee to certain customers. Find out if you are eligible to be reimbursed here.


Pre-Check:  You can apply directly at one of 270 enrollment centers across the country (click here to find a location center), or you can pre-enroll here before going to the office to register your fingerprints and finalize your application. A few weeks later you should receive your Known Traveler Number in the mail which is what you will need to register in all your frequent flyer accounts in order to receive Pre-Check when you travel.

Global Entry:  Apply online after registering as a “New GOES User”.  After your application is reviewed, you will be notified to schedule an interview at one of the 40 centers that offer Global Entry enrollment.  Global Entry is quickly becoming a very popular program, some applicants have complained that appointments fill up months in advance. As a result of this, try not to bank on being able to get a appointment around busy travel times, such as holidays. I scheduled my appointment 3 weeks out, and I had no problem with 90% of the time slots available to choose from on the two days I would be by the enrollment center.  You will then receive your Known Traveler Number as well as a Global Entry Card in the mail.

If your passport is about to expire, you may want to wait until you get a new one to apply for Global Entry since you will have to take the new passport by a Global Entry enrollment center to have it registered to your account.

Important things to note: 

Only certain airlines use the program.  Not every flight you take is eligible for access to the Pre-Check lane.  Airlines that participate in the program are: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.  If you travel on other airlines, your boarding pass will not include the TSA Pre-Check mark.

Traveling with others who are not in the program. If you’re traveling with someone who does not have Pre-Check you may want to go through security with them instead of the separate Pre-Check lane.  Unfortunately, Known Travelers cannot bring those who have not been approved for TSA Pre-Check with them through the Pre-Check lanes unless they are under the age of 12. Only those approved for Global Entry can use the Global Entry kiosks, despite age.  If you plan to travel frequently with someone who does not or cannot participate in the program, it may not be worth it to apply.

There is no guarantee you will always get TSA Pre-Check when you travel. Even after approval into the program, the TSA can choose to screen any passenger in regular security instead of allowing them through the Pre-Check lanes.  Additionally, not every airport offers Pre-check lanes.  Smaller airports may only have general security.  Likewise, Pre-Check lanes may not be open at certain times in some airports. During slower parts of the day or on certain travel days, some airports may elect not to have a separate Pre-Check lane.

I’ve had Global Entry (and thus Pre-Check) for 6 months now, and I would absolutely encourage anyone who travels more than a few times a year to get it.  Not having to take out your laptop and liquids and being able to keep your shoes on is worth it alone. Plus you get the added bonus of feeling like you’re VIP when you gain access to the ‘members only’ part of security.