I bet you’ve heard stories of the traveler who fit everything in a backpack for a three week jaunt across Europe. Have you ever wondered why anyone would consider such a feat as stuffing three week’s worth of clothes and travel supplies into one small carry-on bag?
I know I have! It was actually my “summer travel challenge” – to see if I could pack my family of four into carry-on sized bags for two different, twelve day family adventures. Why would I attempt such a feat, you ask? Well, I have seven reasons why it was time to stuff our stuff into carry-on bags, and forego that big suitcase.
Seven Travel Scenarios Perfect For Carry-On Bags
So here they are. My seven travel scenarios that convinced me to go the way of the carry on bag. To move away from overstuffed big bags, and into more compact, less weighty, and more efficient smaller bags. Here’s why I took on the Carry On Baggage challenge, and why you may consider it too.
1. Checked Baggage Fees
Ugh! Perhaps a necessary evil that goes along with current air travel. Or perhaps not! One way to avoid paying checked baggage fees is to not check your bag. We all want to avoid checked bag fees, and traveling with only a carry-on bag can be the answer.
Not sure what your checked baggage fee might be? Check your airline’s website, or this handy Worldwide Baggage Fee Chart from FareCompare.
2. Tight Flight Connection Times
Has this happened to you? ‘Cause I know it’s happened to me. You have one hour between connecting flights. All should be good. But then your flight lands fifteen minutes late. And there’s lots of checked luggage to be off-loaded and sent along it’s merry way to luggage carousels or the next flight. Will yours make it across the tarmac in time?
Chances are, your checked bags will make it. But I’m not a risk taker. Perhaps I’m still recovering from a lost luggage incident several years ago on my way to a world-wide design meeting. The one where I wore sweatpants and a t-shirt to the first day of meetings because my checked bag got misplaced at my connecting airport. Though it did see more of Europe than I did!
3. International Connecting To Domestic Flights
Clearing Customs and Immigration is a must-do when flying internationally. Once you land on foreign soil, you typically have to collect all your luggage – including your checked luggage – and clear Customs and Immigration. No big deal, unless that airport is not your final destination. You still need to collect your bags and clear Customs before heading off to your next flight.
Meaning – if you are flying from Costa Rica to Philadelphia via Miami, you clear Customs and Immigration in Miami, then head to the Philadelphia flight. Not complicated, but it can be time consuming, especially with tight flight connections. Been there. Done that. Almost missed a connecting flight in London’s Heathrow Airport!
4. Traveling To Multiple Destinations
Does your trip include moving around, changing hotels every few nights, unpacking and repacking every time you change destinations? Managing luggage and multiple destinations can be especially daunting when traveling with kids. The more you pack, the more you have to unpack, then repack – each time you change locations. Carry-on bags to the rescue! You can’t pack too much stuff into one of these.
5. The Need to Be Organized
The more stuff you pack, the more stuff that gets unpacked at your destination, and the less organized both your suitcase, and your room, will be. Packing less stuff more efficiently will help keep your travels more organized. A carry-on bag combined with just the right packing tools is the ticket you need to stop the over-packing.
Packing less also means less things to relocate and repack at the end of the trip. So important when you’re traveling with kids! The more stuff you bring, the more stuff is at risk of being forgotten and left behind. Like a favorite stuffed animal. Yep, did that too. Had it airlifted home via FedEx.
6. Traveling With Weight / Size Limitations
Are you traveling someplace remote? Arriving via a charter flight? Check for possible weight and/or baggage size restrictions that will limit what you can bring. You don’t want the unpleasant surprise of having to leave that overstuffed big bag behind to meet strict weight and size limitations.
Big, overstuffed bags can also weigh you down if you have lots of stairs to climb, or walking between train stations and your hotel. Been there too. Climbed four flights of stairs with a large, oversized bag. And I really didn’t need all that stuff I brought!
7. Driving A Small Rental Car
Did you opt to rent that compact car? You may need to rethink your luggage plans! Those larger bags are going to be a tight squeeze into the compact car’s trunk.
Are You Ready for The Carry-On Bag Challenge?
Having experienced each and every one of these scenarios in previous travels, I was dead set on stuffing our family of four into carry-on bags for our two summer trips. And I did it! Stick around for my next post and I’ll fill you in on how I did it – and whether or not I’d do it again.
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 bag?
Have you gone on vacation with only a carry-on bag? Would you do it again? What was your reason for traveling with just a carry-on bag? Let us know in the Comments section.
Images from Zementa (Suitcases), MikiYoshihito via Flickr (Depatures sign), EagleCreek.com (Packed Suitcase), Cheverolet.com (Chevy Sonic) and Kuster&Wildhaber via Flickr (Airplane in Sky)