carry-on travel luggage

9 Tips to Help You Travel Carry-On Luggage Only

I have always been a light-packer. I am the sort of guy who is annoyed when I return from a trip with something unworn. However, I recently started a minimalist travel routine of carry-on only for the most part, even for overseas, international, and extended trips. I am still learning to minimize my travel footprint, but I am getting better with each journey.

However, many struggle with what to bring and how much of it to bring when traveling and packing for a trip. Do you want to travel with carry-on luggage only but think you need to bring it all? These 9 travel tips will help you be a carry-on-only traveler and enjoy stress-free travel.

The Advantages of Carry-On Only Travel

There are many advantages to merely taking carry-on luggage when you travel. The process will move more quickly and smoothly, and you won’t have to worry about misplaced luggage and lengthy wait times for it to get to your hotel. Traveling with just carry-on luggage is especially helpful when traveling solo as it allows you to move quickly through airports and on to your destination.

It is frequently less expensive to travel with carry-on luggage since, more often than not, additional fees are often involved. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand, so you only bring what you need to make the most of this kind of event.

It is frequently less expensive to travel with carry-on luggage since, more often than not, additional fees are often involved. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand, so you only bring what you need to make the most of this kind of event.

The Disadvantages of Carry-On Only Travel

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Traveling with only carry-on luggage is becoming more popular, mostly for one or more of the reasons listed above.  It appeals to those who don’t need or don’t want to bring everything.  Yet it’s critical to be watchful of any potential problems.

The main disadvantage is limited space. Most travelers can bring only two bags on the plane. One of which must be a small carry-on luggage, such as a purse or laptop case. Size and weight are concerns, as are the types of items, as some may not be allowed inside the cabin. Careful planning in advance can often offset any of these challenges. Still, the benefits generally will outweigh the limits unless some specific things must be taken with you; carry-on is the way to go.

Choose the Right Travel Carry-On Luggage

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Choose carry-on luggage that fits the size restrictions of your airline. The size of carry-on luggage rules can vary by airline, but in general, it should be 22 x 14 x 9 inches to fit in the passenger cabin. Small carry-on luggage is something like a purse or small briefcase. Nonetheless, it’s important to check with your airline before your trip to make sure of the size and weight limits.

In addition to carrying the bag onto the plane, you will also be carrying it to and from the airport and wherever you go, so keep this in mind. Bags with wheels are handy and easy to manage, but they are heavier, and you may give up a little space for the hardware. Hardshell carry-on luggage may be durable but may also add weight. Backpacks will help to maximize space and give you the most flexibility, but you will carry it all on your back. I have personally found that backpacks are best for me; it often comes down to personal preference.

Another consideration is the size of your bag and where it will be stored on the plane. Larger carry-ons fit in the overhead compartment, while smaller, personal items go under the seat. However, the smaller bags can take up valuable legroom; just be mindful if you have long legs or a long flight.

Know What You Need

It may seem obvious, but planning out when you need it for your trip is important. While on your trip, choose clothing and personal items that are appropriate for the environment and weather conditions. Also, be mindful of changing weather conditions and choose flexible clothing for various situations.

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Many people will pick up small toiletries or move them into smaller bottles before leaving home. While this process is helpful, it will add to what you carry and may not even be needed. Hotels often provide at least some of the basics; check into what is included before you leave. Also, do some research on what it would cost to buy the items when you arrive. In some cases, buying only what you need and saving on space and weight in your carry-on luggage may be very inexpensive. Unless needed, leave things like hair irons and dryers at home as well; they, too, are sometimes available on-site.

Plan it out

Make a list of what you think you’ll need a day or two before you pack. Look for items to cut out or downsize along the way. When packing, start by gathering all the items on your list and stacking them alongside your bag. A list of items does not provide a visual; sometimes, seeing a large pile of stuff will help you decide what you need to take and what can be left behind.

I have learned that a carry-on backpack is great for minimizing not only what you take but also what you buy on the way. When you have to carry it all on your back, you tend to be mindful of what to add to your bag.

Dr. Jeramy after a month on a motorbike in south Thailand

Pack for One Week

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Generally speaking, you should aim to bring enough outfit options for a week. You need to bring enough clothes for a week for any trip longer than a week, regardless of how long it is. Your choice of clothing will depend on your destination, the nature of the trip (business or leisure), the season, etc. Even if the journey is three months long, there is no need to carry more than seven days’ worth of clothing because every nation has washing machines.

Choose lightweight, wrinkle-free clothing that can be compressed as much as possible in luggage. Items of clothing that can be worn in different ways or layered are great for traveling because they give you the most options and are often small and light.

Although it is a good idea to include a few extra pairs of socks, underwear, and possibly a t-shirt, avoid packing too many “just in case” goods because you need to keep your baggage light, and they are not necessary. It’s easy and frequently affordable to purchase these needs when traveling, and you won’t miss them.

Plan Outfits Before You Leave

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No matter what, making sure that outfits are stress-free can be achieved by planning outfits for each day, depending on activities. This one is just as much for males as it is for women, who do this naturally. Choose colors that go well together and are neutral. With just a few pieces, you may create a variety of outfits if any shirt in your luggage can be worn with any pair of jeans, pants, or shorts in your bag. Plan your washing schedule according to your outfits as well to make sure you wash your clothes when it is most convenient for you and not when you suddenly run out of clean underwear.

Use Packing Cubes and Vacuum Bags

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Effective packing is crucial for a relaxing trip. Use vacuum bags and packing cubes to keep your stuff tidy and arranged. Clothing, gadgets, documents, and other items can all be stored using packing cubes, which come in a variety of sizes and materials. Clothing can be compressed and stored more compactly in luggage or closets using vacuum bags. In addition to keeping your belongings orderly, packing cubes are useful for short overnight trips in transit.

One thing to keep in mind is that vacuum bags and packing cubes are wonderful for compressing your clothing so that bulky items can easily fit in your carry-on luggage. In certain circumstances, you may bring 40–50% more when your clothing is compressed.

Choose Shoes Wisely

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It takes some consideration to select shoes for a journey. Where you’re going and the activities you plan to engage in will determine what you should pack. Travel footwear should be compact and designed for long distances of walking. They ought to have supportive arches and cushioned soles for comfort. Walking shoes are thicker and offer superior shock absorption and cushioning. These can be boots, sandals, or sneakers. Bring a pair of casual shoes for events or settings that call for fancy attire. But the shoes you carry truly depend on the activities you have in mind.

Packing shoes might be challenging. They can be difficult to fold into your carry-on because they are cumbersome, hefty, and rigid. Fill the shoe with smaller items like socks or power cords when you load your suitcase. Wear the pair of shoes that are most difficult to pack in your luggage if at all feasible.

Shoe shopping can be difficult

Unlike clothing, some shoe styles, brands, widths, and especially large sizes may be challenging to locate depending on where in the world you are. I personally searched for size 12 boots for two weeks in Thailand. Before you depart, give your needs a lot of thought, or at the very least, know where to go shopping. Unlike clothing, some shoe styles, brands, widths, and especially large sizes may be challenging to locate depending on where in the world you are. I personally searched for size 12 boots for two weeks in Thailand. Before you depart, give your needs a lot of thought, or at the very least, know where to go shopping.

Pack Solids and Minimize Liquids, Gels, and Toiletries

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In general, traveling with only carry-on luggage will require you to reduce the size of your baggage. Certain things, however, come with significantly stricter standards and restrictions. For instance, liquids, gels, and aerosols can only be 3 ounces each, and all containers must fit into a 1-quart plastic bag. To make your life on the road easier, look for every chance to reduce or eliminate these goods as much as you can.

I don’t carry a toiletry bag anymore. As an alternative, I pack all of my toiletries in a big plastic bag that I can easily reshape to fit in my carry-on bag. As mentioned above, it is frequently simple to refill necessities like toothpaste or shampoo because they are frequently provided within your room for free or at a reasonable cost at a nearby convenience store.

Wear Bulky Clothing on the Plane

Large and bulky clothing items can often be worn onto the plane to save room in your carry-on bag. Choose clothing that is fashionable, comfortable, and appropriate for the weather; keep in mind that it might get chilly on airplanes. Put on jeans with pockets to keep your necessities close at hand. Every time I fly, I normally wear a sweatshirt around my waist and a hoodie. That enables me to remove a small amount of weight from my bag. Even though I enjoy wearing shorts on some flights for comfort, I typically wear pants because they take up less room in my carry-on bag.

Get TSA Precheck

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TSA Pre-check may not seem like it belongs in a post about carry-on luggage, but I can promise you that it is an essential component of your travel arsenal. If you don’t already have one of these, I highly recommend getting one if you travel more frequently than a few times a year. You’ll save a ton of time by not having to stand in line. While flying with just carry-on bags, a TSA Pre-check will also help speed through security.

If you have a pre-check, you won’t typically need to take off your shoes, belt, or other items you might be wearing, which is wonderful if you’re carrying extras. Also, screening is simpler because you are less likely to need to take out laptops or other electronic devices, making the entire procedure simpler.

Conclusion and Why Travel Carry-On Only

Overall, traveling only with carry-on luggage has many benefits, and I think most people will find that it makes for a much easier and smoother travel experience. Though it may be necessary at times to pack more and check luggage when flying, most travelers will save money and be able to keep track of their bags themselves. This is better than giving their bags to someone else or, worse, having them damaged, lost, or stolen. Lighten the load on your next trip, choose to travel by carry-on only, and take note of the difference.

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