In my previous post, 7 Scenarios for Traveling With Carry-On Bags, I mentioned taking on the Carry-On Bag Challenge. Well, here it is, the results of my family’s own Carry On Bag Challenge.
Summer vacation had arrived! Time to pack our bags and head off for not one, but two twelve day family trips. So why oh why would I ever consider packing the family into four carry-on sized bags for twelve days of travel? Was I insane? Or was I clever as a fox?
Or maybe just a bit of both! Read on and decide for yourself.
Why Take The Carry On Bag Challenge?
Why was the Summer of 2013 the summer of my Carry-On Bag Challenge? Because at one point or another during our travels, we would encounter practically every scenario mentioned in 7 Scenarios for Traveling With Carry-On Bags, including:
- Flying on airlines that charge crazy checked baggage fees
- A tight flight connection time
- An international flight connecting to a domestic flight
- Traveling to multiple hotels and destinations
- The need to keep everyone and everything organized
- Driving a small rental car
Yep, that’s right. We missed just one scenario during our summer travels – the weight/ size limitations. But not really, if you think about it. Our bags still had to be light enough to lift into the overhead bins, and small enough to meet carry-on size limitations.
The Summer Travel Plans
And just where we traveling to? What were the trips that drove me to the Challenge?
Trip #1 – Twelve days visiting family across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan. Traveling by flights with stopovers and a compact rental car. Staying in hotels and family homes in five different locations. Adventures included family barbecues, water activities, hiking, a major league baseball game and a rustic night at camp.
Trip #2 – Twelve days exploring Nova Scotia, Canada. Traveling internationally by airplane, clearing Customs and Immigration in Toronto before our flight to Halifax. Mid-sized rental car for driving around the Province. Changing lodging four different times. Adventures included city wanderings, exploring historical sites, hiking, biking, kayaking and beach combing.
So yes, you can now see why traveling with carry-ons might be the solution to our complicated travel plans. Read on for how we did it.
The Nitty Gritty Details of The Challenge
The Objective – to stuff everything my family of four would need into one carry on bag per person. Yep, you read that right. One. Carry-on Bag. Per person. Here’s the specifics for this family’s Carry-on Baggage Challenge:
- One 6+ foot dad. Clothes and shoes are definitely bigger than mine.
- One teenage boy. Not as tall as his dad, but wears same big sized shoes.
- One nine year old. He’s big too, wearing the same size shoes as mom.
- One mom. Not big, but loves her shoes and clothes. 🙂
- Two LLBean QuickLoad Upright Rolling Duffle Bags
- One Eagle Creek Ease Upright 21″ International Bag
- One TravelPro T-Pro Bold 22″ Expandable Rollaboard
- Eight Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes
- Several SpaceSaver Bags
- One small back pack
- One shoulder bag
- Enough clothes per person for five-six days
- Four packable rain jackets
- Three pairs of shoes each – one to wear, two packed
- Toiletries for four – all meeting TSA requirements
- Three cell phones, two iPads, three cameras, a laptop, and all their cables and chargers
- Five to six paperback books
- Two packable towels, two flashlights, and a first aid kit
- Four water bottles (empty of course) and snacks
Everything had to fit into four carry on bags, one per person. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t go. Ok, so I nicked a little space from my nine year old’s bag. He didn’t need that much stuff, and I really wanted that extra pair of shoes. Which I admit now, I really didn’t! 🙂
We also had three small personal bags – a shoulder bag, a computer bag, and a small backpack. Just enough space to hold the electronics, a book, and a few snacks, and small enough to fit under our seats.
Traveler’s Tip – Check the dimensions of the carry-on bag you plan to use, and compare them with your airline requirements. Don’t get stuck at the gate with a bag that doesn’t meet the specific airline’s requirements, else you might find your bag whisked away with the rest of the checked bags.
The Carry-On Bag Challenge Results
So the question remains – was this challenge a success? Absolutely, unequivocally yes! Yes, there will be a few tweaks for our next trip, but we will most certainly be traveling with just carry on bags again. Here’s a few Challenge highlights – and low lights!
What worked best?
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes. Love these! We each had two cubes – one large and one medium. Not only were they spacious enough to hold nearly all our clothes, they helped keep our bags very well organized.
The TravelPro T-Pro Bold Carry-On Bag. My new-found best travel friend. It was my first trip with it, and it was great. It fit well into tight overhead bins on the plane, and the pockets on the inside helped keep small stuff from getting lost.
What needs to be tweaked?
Traveling with a multitude of electronics charge cables and battery pack chargers. I stuffed them all into a zip-lock bag. Suffice it to say, it was a tangled mess. Failed miserably. Any suggestions?
Packing smelly sneakers. Our shoes got quite wet, and were not dry before we packed for home. I put them into plastic grocery bags, but the smell still permeated through. Definitely need a better solution here!
Do you have any solutions for my packing flops? Let me know!
Will You Take the Carry On Bag Challenge?
How do you pack for your travels? Do you overstuff the biggest suitcase you own, hoping it makes the airlines weight restrictions, or fits into the trunk of the car? Or are you a minimalist, squeezing every inch out of that teeny tiny carry-on luggage?
Have you done your own Carry-On Bag Challenge? Let us know your results and any tips in the Comments section below.
Stay tuned for my final post where I’ll fill you in on some helpful tips you too can use to complete your own Carry On Bag Challenge.
Images from C.Biederman (Suitcases, Packing Suitcases), Wikipedia (Map of Nova Scotia, Canada), Eagle Creek (packing diagram), TravelPro (T-Pro bag), Flickr via Jim Bauer (Storm Trooper Cables ), and Flickr via Kick Photo (SmellyShoe).