There are many advantages to traveling with just carry on luggage: not having to deal with an airline losing your checked luggage which in turn makes a big impact on the relaxing, enjoyable vacation you had planned; not having to lug around a 50lb suitcase that makes it hard to switch plans quickly, let alone, walk down a cobblestone street; and even having the opportunity to save money by not paying the airline to check your bag.
But, there are a few small sacrifices you have to make if you plan to pack just a carry on suitcase. One main question you have to ask yourself is – are you going on vacation to impress others or are you going in order to make memories and try new experiences? If the latter, here are a few tips on how to travel light and pack in just a carry on:
Choose your carry on luggage wisely
If you are going to fit everything you need in a carry on bag, look for a bag with expandable compartments, including easily accessible outside zipped pockets, sturdy and agile wheels, TSA-friendly tech compartments, and a tough but smooth telescoping handle.
Bring versatile, layered clothing
Try to pack clothes that can be worn in different situations either alone or layered with other articles of clothing, and choose colors that will mix and match well. It’s always helpful to bring a nice light jacket, scarf, sweater, or accessory to help dress an outfit up or down, depending on the situation. And to be honest, no one most likely knows, or really even cares, that you wore the same thing to dinner on night one as night four.
Ship souvenirs home
Found a great piece of art or artifact that would make the perfect souvenir but there is no way you can fit it in your carry on? Consider shipping it home. Try asking the shop you purchased it from or the front desk at the hotel you are staying at if they can help you wrap, package, and ship your souvenir – though you may want to do this ahead of purchasing said item as you don’t want to be out of options or have to buy an extra bag for checked luggage on your way home. Additionally, if you’re looking to purchase wine or beer to bring home with you, ask the winery or brewery itself. Depending on what state you live in, they may be able to ship your purchase straight to your house. They even sometimes allow you to add bottles you’ve purchased from other establishments to the shipment – doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
Wear sensible yet stylish shoes
This goes along with packing versatile clothing – bring shoes that you can walk miles in but could also be worn to a nice (but not necessarily fancy) restaurant or bar. Depending on your plans, a nice pair of sneakers can do the trick, but if you are planning on a more formal place for dinner one of your nights, opt for something leather or plan space in your bag for fancier shoes.
Packing cubes help you stay organized
Even though a carry on suitcase does not typically have so much room that you think your things would get unorganized – things can get messy fast. Packing cubes are a huge help in not only the organization of your suitcase but also the compression of your belongings to take up less space. Rolling your clothes and then placing them into designated packing cubes (undergarments, beachwear, dirty laundry — however you want to organize them) will help you maximize the limited space in your luggage. Plus, if your bag happens to be selected for a security check at the airport, it makes it a whole lot easier to find whatever it is the TSA agent is questioning and repack quickly.
If it’s a longer trip, resolve to do laundry
If you are going on a trip that is longer than a week or so, you may have to work laundry into your itinerary. But it doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour+ at a laundromat. Check with the front desk at your hotel. Many large hotels offer full laundry service where you place your dirty clothes in a bag, check off the items you need to be washed, and have it picked up by hotel staff. Then once your clothes are clean, they are delivered to your hotel room. Other hotels offer guest laundry facilities where you can wash your clothes on site with a coin-operated machine. Just make sure to check with your hotel ahead of time to plan accordingly.
So next time you are packing for your vacation, consider bringing just a carry on and experience that liberating feeling of not having to check your luggage!