Yes, I finally learned how to travel with ONLY a carry on bag. That’s right. NO BAGS CHECKED. At all. I was amazed at the freedom that this decision gave me as I embarked on one new adventure after another.
I was convinced that a backpack was the answer. That is, until I got sick of lugging that heavy backpack all over the place.
Yes, it was definitely more convenient not to have to plow through all the other passengers to get to Baggage Claim at the end of a long flight, but the fact that I kept smacking people in the face with this stupid backpack did NOT make for a stress-less trip, not to mention that after awhile, the darned thing was HEAVY.
This has made it necessary to come up with a new, more convenient plan.
Hence, enter the lightweight rolling bag. Now THIS has made all the difference. I am still able to travel with only one carry-on bag, easily maneuvering through the airport with no problems.
Advantages of becoming strictly a carry on traveler:
1. No waiting around for baggage when the flight is over.
You can be in your taxi or on your bus heading to your next destination while everybody else is crowded into Baggage Claim praying to see their suitcases coming though on the conveyor belt. Now you’ve gained an extra hour or two of vacation time!
2. You have much less chance of losing your luggage if you have to make a connecting flight.
Upon landing, grab your bag, and as long as YOU make your next flight, you have the guarantee that all of your belongings will make it onto the next plane as well.
3. It is just a whole lot easier to travel with one lightweight bag than it is to drag along several heavy suitcases.
Even if you have a rolling cart for your luggage inside the airport, it’s just a pain to maneuver around all the other travelers. Give yourself a break and leave some of that stuff at home!
4. It is cheaper.
This is a no-brainer: If you only have a carry-on bag, you won’t have to pay for checked bags. That leaves more money to spend on vacation fun.
How to become a carry on traveler:
1. You must be resigned to the fact that you will have to wear some of the same articles of clothing more than once on your trip.
2. Pack items that can be worn in more than one way.
For example, the black jeans that you wear in the daytime with a colored t-shirt can be dressed up for dinner out with a dressier top and a scarf or a jacket and stylish jewelry.
3. If you are staying for a long time, you will need to wash clothes, either at a commercial laundromat or in the sink at your hotel.
When I travel, I take along a small bottle of Woolite and wash a few items in the sink at night before I go to bed and hang them up on the shower curtain rod to dry. If I have heat or ac in the room, I sometimes hang my items to dry on the back of a chair on hangers in front of the vent. Making a conscious attempt to bring items of clothing that will dry quickly will hasten the process.
4. I only bring 2 pairs of shoes.
I wear tennis shoes or comfortable slip on walking shoes on the plane and pack a comfortable pair of flats. This is all that I need for a 1 to 3 week trip to Europe.
How in the WORLD do you pack everything in just one little bag?
The first step is to commit to only taking one bag on your trip. You must accept the fact that only through brutal elimination of unnecessary items will the concept of taking only one bag work. Period. (And if I can do it, believe me, YOU can do it!) Being unencumbered by a lot of “stuff” makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable trip.
1. After you have committed mentally to traveling with only one bag, the next step is to choose the bag that you will take.
An important rule of thumb is to make sure that the dimensions of your carry-on bag will satisfy the size restrictions placed on bags by the airlines. Go online and check several airline websites to determine the maximum size allowed for a carry-on bag and make SURE that the bag you choose falls BELOW that size. Some people prefer a backpack-style bag, but I personally prefer a rolling bag. I own several carry-on bags and have been most happy with these:
– Osprey Ozone 22″ Wheeled Bag
2. Besides carry on luggage, I always travel with an anti-theft purse.
Several companies carry these bags and have quite a large selection. Travelon is an excellent brand with many styles to choose from: Travelon Anti-Theft Bag
Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag
Travelon Anti-Theft Hobo
There are several features that make these bags special:
– Cut-proof shoulder straps to stop purse-snatchers
– A number of interior pockets made of RFID-blocking material to deter
-Exterior zipper locks for extra protection
All Travelon bags do NOT have all of these features, so read descriptions carefully. You will need a bag that is securely anti-theft.
3. Make a list ahead of time.
Pull out items from your closet and determine what will work with what. Organization is essential for this to work successfully.
4. The key is to only pack items that will go together so that you can mix and match.
Start by choosing your neutral colors. You should have bottoms and tops in these colors. Mine usually are:
Next, choose your accent colors. Whatever your accent colors are, you should have at least one bottom and one top in each accent color. For example, some good accent colors for the neutrals I chose could be light blue or turquoise. Having the option to switch things up can create numerous outfits. Throw in a scarf or two, and there you have it!
5. Don’t take any item of clothing that doesn’t work in the color palette that you have selected.
6. Stick to fabrics that will not wrinkle.
You surely will NOT have time to iron on your trip!
7. Try to choose fabrics that will dry quickly if you wash and hang to dry.
Things will be much easier if you can wash at night and have your clothes dry by morning.
8. Do your laundry several days before you start packing.
With the date of departure looming, you don’t want to have to run around washing clothes at the last minute.
9. Pack your bag in an organized way.
Packing cubes are a great option and can be packed like you would arrange your chest-of-drawers at home: underwear all together in one cube, tops in another. Keeping items organized as you travel is another time saver. You won’t have to waste valuable travel time digging through your bag to find a specific item. These are the cubes that I use: TravelWise Packing Cubes and these are the ones my husband uses:
Pro Packing Cubes.
10. Pack all the items in your carry-on bag that you won’t need for awhile.
In addition to my carry-on bag, I always take a large bag as a purse when I travel, and in that bag, I pack things that I will need to get to before and during my flight. Besides the obvious things like my wallet, passport, glasses, ipad, makeup and phone, I also put in the zip-lock bag of liquids that I will have to take out when I go through security.
11. When packing my carry-on bag, I have had great success by implementing the now popular Konmari method:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have used this concept in my own closet and dresser, and I have found at home and on the road that not only am I able to fit all the items in comfortably, but I am able to keep things much more organized this way.
Sometimes I use her method of FOLDING all articles of clothing into small, same-size rectangles and sometimes I use the more common method of ROLLING them into small cylinder shapes before placing into my bag. The weight and thickness of the material is usually what determines the way I pack my bag. I do whatever works best at the time and it is definitely a trial-and-error exercise.
Remember, when first becoming a Carry-On Traveler, the more practice you have the better you will be at it. Try it this time, be aware of what does and doesn’t work for you, and if you need to change something for the next trip, do it! The more you travel, the better at it you will become.