I was talking to a friend not long ago and she mentioned that when I travel, she would describe my style as both planned and spontaneous and a good balance of both. I considered and that you know what? She’s right. There’s a few things I plan very much in advance when it comes to traveling and some things I just do on a whim. One of the decisions I spend time really considering before travel is how to pack for the smoothest trip. This means answering the question – “Is it possible to only carry on bag?” and the answer I hope to usually get to is “yes!”. To me, it’s so much easier to just fly with a carry on and no checked luggage. It saves me money and it saves me time.
Think about it this way:
- Checked bags are more to haul through an airport
- Checked bags are heavy which means I will sweat when I’m hauling it around or lifting it
- I have to worry about how heavy it is and if it goes over the weight limit
- I have to pay more for it on many airlines
- I have to haul it in and out of my rental car when getting to the location
- There’s a change it may get lost or not get to my destination when I get there
To me, that’s hassle. And some things that are out of my control. So when possible, I only travel with my handy dandy backpack and my @Away carry on bag. They’re perfect and work for me.
If you think you may need a checked bag, ask yourself these questions:
Question 1: How long will you be gone?
If it’s under 10 days, you can probably get by with a carry on only. I’ve done it. Just pack 1-2 pairs of shoes, wear any thing clothing when possible, and make sure your pieces can be worn with each other. Roll your items or trifold them so they all fit well. Put anything else that doesn’t fit in your carry on in your backpack or personal item. Don’t bring bulky clothing unless necessary. Wear items on the flight that take up the most room. Things like a big sweater or sweatshirt, a jacket, or boots are all items you can wear to fly rather than pack.
Question 2: Do you have connecting flights?
If you do, chances of baggage getting delayed or lost is higher. If you have multiple stops, consider if you do REALLY need a checked bag or not. If I have connecting flights, they have to be over 90 minutes in order for me to bring a checked bag AND I have to be gone for over a week or have a specific event I’m traveling for.
Question 3: Are you traveling with anything that needs checked?
If you don’t have to check anything, then don’t. Figure out how to avoid large liquid containers or hairsprays. Reconsider any knives or other weapons that I’m thinking you likely won’t need unless it’s a hunting trip. If you absolutely need to take something that needs to be in checked luggage, then take checked luggage. Just budget your time and money and strength accordingly.
Question 4: Do you just really need the space of an additional bag?
For some people that are traveling through various climates, or are going to a specific event like a wedding, or have to bring supplies for a conference or a party, then pack what you need. If you need to check bags then do it. If there’s a chance that the items you initially traveled with you won’t need on the way home (favors for a party or giveaways for a conference) then put those in a foldable or small bag to check them. That way you don’t have to worry about them on the way home.
As you can tell, I really avoid checked luggage. It dampens my fast paced travel style. I do not like waiting for the luggage to get to the belt or to track it down if it’s lost. I don’t like having to haul extra bags or just even worry about them. I know not everyone is like that so do what works for you.
If you’re in the market for a new checked bag, I can’t recommend the company @Away enough when it comes to their hard luggage. I also really like @Lo&Sons for a workbag or @Patagonia or @NorthFace for a backpack. I have all of these and they are great for various types of trips.