I believe anyone can travel with nothing but carry-on luggage. Really! Find out why I love it so much.
There's a fun television ad in Canada. It shows a woman shopping at Ikea and, when she looks at her receipt after paying for everything, she thinks that something is wrong. The prices are too low. They must have made a mistake. So she starts rapidly walking away while trying not to call attention to herself. And when she gets outside, she yells "START THE CAR" to her partner. Of course, it's all a clever shtick for Ikea. The message is that their prices are so low that it feels like you're getting away with something. But what does this have to do with traveling with carry-on luggage? Absolutely nothing - except that traveling with carry-on luggage is so awesome you feel like you're getting away with something. I kind of feel like that woman every time I scurry past the baggage claim carousel and hightail it to the shuttle buses ahead of everyone else. START THE BUS!
6 reasons to always travel with carry-on luggage.
I’m completely devoted to carry-on only luggage – you've probably already figured that out by now! I think that only using carry-on adds tremendous value to your travel. Just think...
(For those inquiring, our usual carry-on backpack is the Osprey Porter 46. You can read our reviews with tons of pros and cons here and you can buy it online for under $150).
With all the advantages of carry-on luggage, why then do people still insist on packing huge suitcases? Here are some of the best excuses I've heard!
Potential problems, pitfalls, and concerns with carry on lugguage.
“I don’t want to look the same every day.”
But you DO look the same every day! You look tired from lugging your huge suitcase everywhere! And like everyone else, you’ll wear the same things again and again no matter how much you pack. Everyone has favourites that make them feel good –you’ll naturally wear reach for the same few things. So you might as well just pack those things and that’s it! (Plus, if you truly crave variety, check out my post on "throw away packing". It's a game changer!)
“I don’t know what we’ll be doing”.
Fair enough, not everyone is a crazy planner like me! But unless you highly suspect you’ll be participating in an extreme sport or going to a costume ball, you are much better off packing for climate and weather, not theoretical activities. If you feel you really do need a wide variety of clothing for a wide variety of activities, focus on packing lightweight, made-for-travel clothing (we're big fans of Tilley).
“I’ll need something for the different occasions”.
I do appreciate this sentiment, as travel is about trying new things and having special memories. While you may be addicted to book club or duck hunting at home, when you travel you’ll be branching out and trying new things. Like a day on safari and a night of wine tasting. Or an archaeological tour in the morning, an afternoon at a gallery, and an evening at the theatre. There are easy ways to deal with this. Stick with a little black dress and switch up your look with silk scarves and bold jewelry. Using those same scarves and dressing up your safari T-shirt and archaeology tour jeans to be ready for the gallery. Stick with high quality, climate appropriate fabrics, and one main color palate.
“I want the photos to look good”.
Do you really think bringing 10 different T-shirts makes great travel photos? If you want to have beautiful photos, invest in a great camera and a photography class. Consider taking a make-up lesson and getting a great haircut before your trip. Use the internet and learn how to tie and wrap scarves. Bring clothing you can layer and accessories you can swap around. And remember: Travel photos are not about an homage to you – they are about capturing the memory of a place and experience.
“I have so much special stuff”.
While it's always nice to have a book or hand for some downtime, chances are you won’t have much time for your hobbies when you travel. Limit how many items you bring. Some needlepoint while relaxing in a hotel room is fine. The quilting and crochet materials can stay home. Many specialty items – from golf clubs to camera tripods – can be rented on the ground for less than the cost of checking your bags. And more than ever hotels can provide you with short term, free loans of everything from fitness clothing and yoga mats to curling irons and make up mirrors.
Technology has made it possible that we don’t have to carry magazines, books, guidebooks, CDs, even notepads, maps, or documents. The space that I save by eliminating outdated technology and gear means more room in my pack. I’m able to pack light enough that my special stuff –like my prescription snorkel gear – can squeeze into my bag. I know another friend who was able to take along a pair of rubber boots in her carry-on bag (for a garden tour).
“I have kids!”
Granted, I am no expert in this field, but I know plenty of people who travel with ease, balancing both kids and carry on. (Case in point: Check out this awesome blog post by More Than Main Street!) Traveling parents and their carry-on only crew make an effort to plan in advance and have detailed packing lists. They also have high quality, well designed bags to maximize space and packing cubes to keep everything organized. Days are well planned so outfits and clothing are optimized.
I know one couple who budgets time in their schedule to do laundry every two days. At first they thought it would be a waste of time. In the end, the parents would fight to see who would get the “treat” of a peaceful reading session in the Laundromat! (And we're converts now too!) You can call ahead to have local pharmacies deliver (for free!) items like diapers and formula to the hotel.
Once you travel with carry on luggage, you won't be going back.
If you’re making the switch to carry-on only for the first time – good for you! Start small, and try to go carry-on for a short getaway that doesn't include any special or unusual events. Make notes after each trip to see what you used, what was dead weight what was invaluable. Before long, you’ll be a packing champion – with no excuses to use anything but carry-on only!
I want you to weigh in! What's your biggest packing challenge?
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