Why you should travel with just a carry-on

We are all guilty at some point of over packing for a trip. The plan is to go away for a week for a family trip and the trunk of your car looks like the Samsonite Outlet Store just had a going out of business sale. A suit case for your shoes, a separate bag for your cosmetics and makeup, another for all your electronic devices, kids toys and a wide assortment of sunblocks from SPF 5 to 80, you know…so you can get that nice gradual tan.

I opened my wife’s suite case once and she had four pairs of shoes, three dresses, four pairs of shorts, two bathing suits and six shirts. We were staying at a time share in Florida and hanging out by the pool for the week. Really? A bathing suit, flip-flops, a couple of t-shirts and a hat and I’m all set!

There a re a few important reasons as to why I prefer to just take a carry-on when I travel.

Less to worry about. I really dislike packing and I dislike unpacking even more. When I pack for longer trips I always forget to pack something basic, yet important like my toothbrush or my cell phone charger. I’m so concerned about making sure I don’t forget anything I think that I might need that i forget to pack what I actually need. Stupid, I know but we all do it. So keep it simple.

Less stress at the airport. Maneuvering around the airport can be a real pain. Hauling your luggage up to the counter to check in hoping that you are not over the weight limit. Security is always a concern as well. Trying to carry multiple large bags through the airport makes you an easy target for thieves and pick-pockets. If you are too concerned about keeping track of all your bags it’s easy to get distracted and that’s when you become a victim.

Here is how it used to go for my family when we travel with a lot of stuff. Climb in the attic to get all the bags, load ’em up with a bunch of stuff we don’t need, cram them into our trunk and then stack the excess bags in the back seat, lug all of the bags up to the check in attendant at the airport to have them checked in, and fumble through my wallet for tip money to give to the agent. Once we land then it’s a mad rush to the baggage claim to get a good spot to collect our luggage. As the carousel spins around I can’t help to wonder if our luggage actually made it on the plane to begin with.  Then, cram them in the back of the Uber or rental car and then lug them into our room.

Here are a few helpful tips to get the most out of your carry-on:

Pick the right bag: Make sure your bag meets the requirements of the airline. If it is too big then you’re will have to check it in, which defeats the purpose. I prefer to use a duffel bag. Because it doesn’t have any wheels or heavy material it is considerably lighter. It also fits easier in the overhead compartment, under the seat or the carry-on tester. Plus, you look less like a tourist with a duffel over your shoulder instead of rolling a suit case down the street.

Pack outfits not pieces. Pick a couple of outfits that you can wear a couple of times if you need to that are light weight. Avoid packing individual pieces that may not be worn. It takes up too much valuable space. Also pick outfits that can be mixed and matched with your other outfits for more combinations.

Keep your toiletries light. Packing things like travel size tubes of toothpaste and deodorant can be a real space saver. Repack liquids in small, clear travel-size bottles no more than 3.5 ounces. I never pack shampoo, conditioner or soap. They are almost always provided where ever I travel.

Pack your bag correctly. I learned from an old room mate who was in the army to roll, not fold. Reason number one, it can be packed much more tightly when you roll everything up tightly. Number two, when you roll you clothing correctly you can eliminate a lot of the wrinkles. Win-win in my book! Also, use all available free space. This one should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. I use every inch. Fill your shoes with socks, or toiletries, put small items like cell phone chargers in the little pockets of your bag. I pack my bag in layers. Starting from the bottom I pack from side to side filling all the spaces then starting a new layer.

Wear your bulkiest clothing items on the plane. I’m tall so my clothing naturally just takes up more space than other people. I wear my jeans, sneakers on the plane and tie my light jacket or long sleeve shirt around my waist. This leaves me valuable space for more clothing in my bag. 


Duty Free hack. This is a cool trick I learned. Once you pass through security you can buy items from the duty-free shops in the airport and they don’t count against you when you get on the plane. When you make a purchase ask for a large bag. You can put your extras like your jacket, book, hats or electronics in the bag and free up your hands of loose items or space in your carry on that’s bursting at the seems.



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