One of the many great things about travel is the idea of going off on an adventure somewhere unknown, with everything that you own on your back.
It portrays a very adventurous and romantic side of travel, the idea that you are off somewhere discovering something new while not being hampered by heavy baggage. Indeed, it’s very easy to fall in love with the idea of traveling light.
However, just how easy is it to do?
Is traveling with just carry-on baggage the best way to travel, or will that mean sacrificing comfort and peace of mind that you’ve left too much behind? Let’s explore the pros and cons of minimizing your load and ditching the checked bags on your next holiday.
What You’ll Need to Pack
It’s amazing just how little we need when we travel. Most accommodation choices will provide you with your day-to-day toiletries, meaning you just need to decide which pieces of your wardrobe will win the chance to see the world with you.
Unless you’re planning an extended holiday, you should be able to pack the required amount of clothes in your carry-on.
You don’t need to leave your laptop, camera, and other electronics at home, as most airlines allow you to travel with a personal item and a carry-on bag, and electronics can be stored in your personal item. This frees up space in your carry-on baggage.
You can pack important documents such as reservation confirmations and other itinerary details in a compact folder which will take up little room. I found really good information about how to travel with carry-on in this article.
Pros of Traveling With Only Carry-On Baggage
Ditching checked luggage can save you a lot of money. Many airlines are reducing the size and quantity of bags you are allowed to check, while others are beginning to lure you with discount airfares only to hit you with greatly inflated checked baggage fees. Airlines worldwide collect billions of dollars in baggage fees annually.
Not only will bringing only carry-on baggage save you money, it will also save you time. Most of us have very limited time when it comes to taking time off from our jobs, so why waste that time checking bags and standing around a carousel watching bag after bag that isn’t yours to come off the plane?
By traveling with carry-on baggage only, you literally have nothing to lose. Airlines cannot mishandle or misplace items that aren’t checked in the first place. With millions of bags lost or mishandled each year, it takes just one more worry out of travel.
Cons of Traveling With Only Carry-On Baggage
Travelers who like to plan for any event may find it difficult to reduce their baggage to just carry-on. Many people become anxious if they feel the time will come during their trip where they are in need of something they cannot get.
This rings even more true should you find yourself heading off the beaten path or planning a holiday filled with outdoor activities. Outdoor recreation and camping requires a lot of supplies which will not fit in a small suitcase and may prove to be expensive to purchase upon arrival.
If you’re the traveler who likes to bring back souvenirs for family and friends you will be very hard pressed to fit them in your carry-on. Your loved ones will definitely know how high they rank by who made the cut when it comes to bringing gifts home if you’re limited to carry-on baggage!
Traveling with children and going carry-on can also prove to be an enormous challenge. Many times children cannot part with favorite toys or stuffed friends, and infants can require a lot of extra necessities such as bottles and nappies.
Some Tips for Packing Light
You can maximize your carry-on allowance by wearing your heaviest and bulkiest items of clothing on the flight rather than packing them. Wear a pocketed jacket to allow for more storage options which can simply be placed under your seat or on top of your suitcase in the overhead bin.
Leave your books at home and opt for the digital format on your chosen device as it will save you a lot of space and weight.
Suitcases with rollers may be more convenient but realize that wheels take up a lot of precious space within the bag, and you might be better off with a simple backpack. Also note that airlines are more likely to weigh or inspect the size of carry-on baggage that look like suitcases rather than something you carry on your back.
For those not wanting to fully commit to carry-on only, you can decide to pack a compact collapsible duffel bag inside your carry-on in the event you acquire more than you originally left with.
When to Go Carry-On Only
The business traveler will find doing away with checked baggage very easy as they will normally have few surprises to be prepared for. A few changes of clothes and a laptop is usually all that is needed for a business trip.
The solo traveler should find it much easier to travel lightly as they are responsible for themselves only. Traveling solo also means you only have yourself to count on when it comes to hauling around luggage.
If your itinerary involves changing locations frequently you will find it much easier to travel with less, and this will save you time from not having to continually pack and unpack your belongings.
I would say: whether you decide to travel with just your carry-on baggage or check a couple of bags, always remember to purchase travel insurance and get protection for your baggage and valuables.
How do you travel? Checked-in bags or carry-on baggage only?