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10 Smart Things To Pack in Your Carry-On (And One Not To)

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Packing for a vacation, business trip, or mandatory family visit can seem like solving a jigsaw puzzle. How do you bring everything you need and still abide by the TSA’s rules? Plus, accidents happen, people lose things, stuff can get stolen—and airport purchases are expensive. Plan ahead by strategically packing these items in your carry-on luggage for happier travels. 

1. Collapsible Water Bottle with a Filtering System

Airplanes are dry and those little water bottles you get on the plane aren’t enough to keep you hydrated throughout the flight. A collapsible water bottle with a filter can be filled with tap water after going through security, and even when filled, they take up less room than a normal reusable bottle.

2. Daily Medications

When packing your medications in your checked luggage, you not only run the risk of it being stolen, but, should your luggage get lost, you'll also find it’s nearly impossible to get a refill far from home. In addition to your prescription meds, pack any over-the-counter medications you might want during your flight in your carry-on. 

3. Phone Charger

No matter how great your phone’s battery life is, don’t assume it’s going to have enough juice to get you to your hotel. Keep your charger with you in case your phone needs a quick boost, especially if all the information you need to get from point A to point B is saved in your email inbox. 

4. Any Documents You’ll Need Throughout the Trip

Of course, keep your wallet, passport, and flight tickets out of your suitcase. Also, if you have physical tickets (for train trips or events such as the ballet or sports), an invitation with an address on it, or any other papers with no digital counterpart, pack those in your carry-on. And it's a smart idea to print out tickets, directions, and itineraries that you’ve stored on your phone just in case.

5. Any Valuables

Airlines and airports are doing more to stop luggage theft, but incidents do still happen. Keep your camera, jewelry, computer, and other luxury or expensive items with you at all times. Even articles of clothing have been stolen out of suitcases, so assume that if you splurged on it, it belongs in your carry-on. 

6. Entertainment

Unless looking out the window is enough to keep you occupied throughout the flight, bring a book, magazine, game, or other source of amusement. But stay away from the giant hardcovers that will weigh you down; opt instead to stock your e-reader or audiobook library—but bring a magazine for take-off and landing, when all electronics must be stowed under the seat in front of you.

7. A Change of Underwear

Keep a change of underwear with you in case your luggage gets lost or you want to freshen up post-flight.

8. Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Facial Wipes

Give your final destination a good first impression by brushing your teeth and washing your face before leaving the airport. Keeping a small selection of toiletries in your carry-on prevents you from having to rummage through your suitcase in public.

9. Location-Appropriate Clothes

Heading to the tropics to escape the blistering winter? Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bag to accommodate the new climate. You don’t want to start your vacation off with heat stroke!

10. A Satisfying Snack

The small bag of pretzels and a can of soda handed to you by a friendly flight attendant doesn’t always cut it, so pack your own lunch or snack. As long as it’s wrapped and a non-liquid, it can go through security. Plus, it’s certainly a cheaper alternative to buying a pre-made sandwich at the airport. 

And One Thing Not To Pack: Your Sweatshirt

Airplane cabins are notoriously chilly, so be sure to bring along a cozy sweatshirt or lightweight jacket (and socks!) for your trip, but don’t pack it in your carry-on. Airlines don’t count sweatshirts and jackets as one of your allotted two free bags, so drape them over your arm to save precious real estate in your pack.

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Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
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Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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What Happens When You Flush an Airplane Toilet?
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For millions of people, summer means an opportunity to hop on a plane and experience new and exciting sights, cultures, and food. It also means getting packed into a giant commercial aircraft and then wondering if you can make it to your next layover without submitting to the anxiety of using the onboard bathroom.

Roughly the size of an apartment pantry, these narrow facilities barely accommodate your outstretched knees; turbulence can make expelling waste a harrowing nightmare. Once you’ve successfully managed to complete the task and flush, what happens next?

Unlike our home toilets, planes can’t rely on water tanks to create passive suction to draw waste from the bowl. In addition to the expense of hauling hundreds of gallons of water, it’s impractical to leave standing water in an environment that shakes its contents like a snow globe. Originally, planes used an electronic pump system that moved waste along with a deodorizing liquid called Anotec. That method worked, but carrying the Anotec was undesirable for the same reasons as storing water: It raised fuel costs and added weight to the aircraft that could have been allocated for passengers. (Not surprisingly, airlines prefer to transport paying customers over blobs of poop.)

Beginning in the 1980s, planes used a pneumatic vacuum to suck liquids and solids down and away from the fixture. Once you hit the flush button, a valve at the bottom of the toilet opens, allowing the vacuum to siphon the contents out. (A nonstick coating similar to Teflon reduces the odds of any residue.) It travels to a storage tank near the back of the plane at high speeds, ready for ground crews to drain it once the airplane lands. The tank is then flushed out using a disinfectant.

If you’re also curious about timing your bathroom visit to avoid people waiting in line while you void, flight attendants say the best time to go is right after the captain turns off the seat belt sign and before drink service begins.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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