About 6 or 7 years ago I was introduced to the concept of traveling without the hassle of checking luggage. I was apprehensive at first but after just one international trip I fell in love with check free travel.
Most major commercial airlines will allow you to board the plane with one carry-on bag typically 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) and one “personal item” (purse, briefcase, laptop bag, small backpack.) If you are judicious with your packing you will find yourself with ample cargo space to survive a 7-10 day adventure.
Here are the pros and cons of check free travel:
Save Time. When checking a bag it is not unusual to step off a multiple hour flight and then spend an additional 30-45 minute awaiting the uncertain arrival of your luggage. At this point in your trip fighting your way through a pack of stressed, tired and highly irritable travelers to stake claim to one of the several dozen black rectangular roller bags is probably the last thing on your vacation to-do list.
Not checking a bag allows you to simply disembark the plane, walk out of the airport and start your adventure.
Save Money. Generally, checking a bag will run you about $25 each way. This means you and your travel mate will spend an extra $100 just to transport luggage. I feel this $100 is best spent on a couple pints and an entrée in your destination city, but to each their own.
Peace of Mind. There is no worse feeling than watching your valuables being tossed into the under belly of the aircraft by baggage handlers that appear to be taking part in some type of Nordic strong man event. At that moment you can be fairly certain that everything in your bag that can break is broken.
On the other hand it is an extremely comforting to know that your valuables are with in an arm’s reach at all times. The peace of mind this provides is priceless.
Liquid Limitations. Airlines limit the liquids that you can bring onto the plane. All liquids, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and fit into a single quart-sized clear, plastic, zip-top bag. With those limitations it may be necessary to forgo the Aqua Di Gio, but fortunately items like cologne, sunscreen and hairspray can be purchased when you reach your destination.
Space Limitations. Traveling with one bag will force you to be a little more strategic with your packing strategy. Since you will not be able to bring every article of clothing you own, try to stick with one color scheme. Ideally pack pants and shirts that you can mix and match to make multiple outfits.
A couple other suggestions – pack some powdered laundry detergent in a Zip Lock bag so that you can wash a few items that you may want to wear again. Pack some old clothes (pajamas, underwear) that you can throw out at the end of your trip to make room for souvenirs.
Traveling with just a carry-on bag and a small messenger style bag has been a game changer. It is truly liberating to just touch down in a new city and immediately start your adventure. My advice for any frequent traveler is to ditch the baggage!
Special thanks to the good people at KingsLeather for providing this carry-on approved travel bag. Cabin Max bag available on Amazon.com
-AZ Survival Guide