Traveling Light, Traveling Right: The Alternative to Packing
You know what it’s like to pack for a trip. Choosing what to wear, making a checklist so you don’t forget anything, and stuffing clothes and shoes into your luggage can be both time-consuming and frustrating.
You have to find room for things, rearrange things, and then hope that all those things don’t get jostled around too much before you’re able to unpack them.
Once you’ve finally got your suitcases prepared for the trip, you have to haul them to the airport and check them at the counter before you can go through customs. During the flight, you might wonder whether your luggage is on board or if it got lost somewhere.
When you land, you’re faced with the task of finding the baggage claim, pulling your suitcases off the baggage belt, and lugging it behind you to the pick-up area. That is keeping your fingers crossed that nothing happened to your luggage: leaks damaging your items, lost luggage, or mix-ups that slow down your arrival at a much more comfortable location.
There’s a solution to this that not many consider. Why not try getting by with just a carry-on bag, rather than suffering through the suitcase scenario?
With a little forethought, it’s easier than it sounds. You just need the right bag, the right items, and a little bit of prep work. It may seem a little strange, or even counterproductive, but open your mind and give this alternative a shot and you might find that the results make your life a lot easier.
One-bag travel is efficient, cost-saving, and takes all the hassle out of packing a bag. A little preparation is all you need to make this bold travel choice work for you.
Get the Best Bag
If you’re serious about not checking luggage next time you fly, you’ll need to shop around for the best bag you can find. You need something that will fit in the carry-on space without too much trouble, but it also needs to hold most of your essential items.
We’re going for quality over quantity here, if we’re taking only what you can carry on the plane. You want the best bang for your buck, and while you might spend a little more now, you’ll save yourself a lot in baggage fees and time saved later.
For United Airlines, the maximum size of a carry-on is 9 x 14 x 22 inches. To make the most of this space, try to find a durable bag with fabric sides. You’re really looking to maximize the amount of stuff that you can fit in the bag because you have to cover all the necessities. This does mean you’ll have to sacrifice some extra items, but you’ll find that the hassle you avoid by choosing this method is worth the minor sacrifice.
Duffle bags can be a good choice here because you can mold the bag to fit your items. Another good choice are versatile backpacks made of anti-blade material. The high-end bags can be worn as a tote, a cross-body bag, or a backpack, and are durable enough to hold up over many trips.
The anti-blade protection makes it difficult to slash the bag from outside, and these bags also include lots of zipper locks and secure pockets. With a high-quality travel bag like these, you can fit everything you’ll need but also make sure that it’s secure for your trip.
You’ll want to make sure that your bag works for whatever airline you choose, but many have similar standards.
For travel, preparation is key. Many of the problems you encounter can be prevented or at least mitigated by proper prep work. When you’re trying to travel light, research is even more imperative. You have to know what you can get at your destination, and what you’ll need for the kind of trip your making. One-bag travel depends on making the most of your time and space, so be prepared!
Once you have your travel bag, the next step is to check with your destination to see what amenities are available to you. If you’ll be staying in a hotel that provides basic toiletries that will meet your needs, you won’t have to worry about packing those. If laundry facilities are available, plan on taking fewer clothes and washing what you do bring every night or every other night.
Here’s one other check-ahead tip: find out where the shopping centers are. If you know in advance what kinds of shopping options are available to you, you can make shopping for extra clothes an adventure at your destination.
These new wardrobe pieces can also serve as souvenirs, and you can ship them home at a nearby post office or UPS store before you leave town again. With the money you’ve saved by avoiding checking lots of bags, you can come home with extras, and still spend less than you would have if you’d brought a lot of luggage.
Minimize Your Bring-Along Belongings
The easiest way to save space in your carry-on is to bundle your clothes as tightly as you can. Use rubber bands to hold rolled socks in place. Vacuum-sealed bags are great ways to compress clothes. Shoes are especially clunky, so try to choose just one pair that can be used for everything you do at your destination.
If you can afford to, maybe buy a pair at your destination if you find that you need them. Roll your clothes tightly if you can’t vacuum-seal them, because you can always take care of any wrinkles when you get to your destination.
Electronics are your best friend for maximizing your entertainment in the smallest possible package. Books, music, and entertainment can be stored on your phone or a small-sized tablet rather than taking up extra space in your travel bag.
Thin headphones easily slip into a bag with clothes, if you don’t want to use earbuds instead (which are even easier to fit). If you decide to bring toiletries, invest in some small containers or use trial-sized samples, and pre-pack your toiletries in something like a snug Dopp kit that fits well in your bag and is easy to get to.
Learning and Optimizing Your Travel Experiences
Make a game out of this. Each time you travel, take note of what you really need and what you can get by without. Take stock of what you have used before. If you know what you can get at your destination, you can figure out what to cut from your “luggage budget” for this trip.
If you’re not very organizationally inclined, but you know others who are, ask them for help in packing for the perfect one-bag travel. You might find that flying without a suitcase is a lot of fun.
Certainly, it’s much less of a hassle and it’s cheaper.
The important thing is to remember the absolute necessities and minimize anything else. One-bag travel is about planning and cutting out what doesn’t work. The idea may seem a little intimidating at first—traveling far from home with just one bag?
That sounds impossible! But it’s not, and the first time you are able to walk straight off a plane and out of the airport without having to wait for baggage claim or hassling with lost luggage, you might never go back.
Remember that the money you save can be used for more souvenirs, even some you ship back to yourself! Taking the extra time for planning can save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration as you become a one-bag travel master!