7 tips to fly without checking bags
My wife and I traveled to Europe for 10 days with no checked bags. If we can do it, so can you.
This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.
The first time I went to Europe, more than 30 years ago, I took only a backpack that fit in the overhead. I've taken something similar to South America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and back to Europe multiple times.
I haven't been traveling light all these years because of checked-luggage fees. Those are relatively new. Here's why I've avoided checked bags for decades:
- I've had luggage lost on more than one occasion. Think business trips are stressful? Try meeting an important prospect in the clothes you were wearing yesterday.
- Claiming luggage adds to the stress of travel. It takes time and requires fighting a crowd. I'd rather be heading for the rental car counter while my fellow passengers are elbowing each other at the carousel.
- The more luggage you have, the more hassle and expense you have. Hassle because you have to drag it around, and expense because when you check into a hotel, you have to tip the people who drag it around for you.
I'm not saying I never check a bag; there are times when I've had to. But I can honestly say I've checked none for at least 90% of the flights I've taken over the last 30-plus years.
How to travel without checking a bag
1. Get the biggest possible carry-on.
There's no reason to pack lighter than necessary. When you're shopping for luggage, go for the maximum: 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. Overall dimensions (those three added together) can't exceed 45 inches. (If you're traveling on foreign airlines, check their requirements before you buy.) Also make sure the "personal item" you're allowed to bring on board is roomy. When traveling long-distance, my wife puts her purse in a small backpack, and my computer bag is roomy enough to carry a few things in addition to my laptop.
MSN Local: Busiest travel season in years
2. Pack early.
Many people pack at the last minute, cramming in everything "just in case," then sorting it out when they get there. I get my carry-on out a day or two in advance and start carefully considering what I'll need. Rule of thumb: If you think you might want it, leave it at home. If you know you're going to need it, pack it.
I also maintain a checklist on my smartphone, so I don't forget anything.
3. Sweat the small stuff.
What's the difference between a full-sized deodorant and a travel-sized version? Not much, but when you multiply it by all the stuff you're carrying, it adds up.
I use travel sizes of everything I take, and I don't always bring everything I have. For example, when it comes to stuff like shampoo, if the hotel is likely to have it, I leave mine at home.
4. Sweat the big stuff.
The two categories of clothing that require the most room are coats and shoes. That's why I keep them to a minimum.
If I'm going somewhere cold, I wear a leather jacket on the plane. When I arrive, I layer. Warm? T-shirt or short-sleeve shirt. Getting chilly? Undershirt underneath. Cold? Undershirt with long-sleeve shirt. Freezing? Add the leather coat. Granted, this system won't keep me toasty if the trip involves lots of outdoor activities, like skiing. But for most trips, it works.
As for shoes, I try to limit them to the pair on my feet, or maybe two if I'm going to need both casual and formal. And I make sure all clothing works with whatever color shoes I take.
5. Think about what you're packing.
Every shirt I pack will work with every pair of pants, and it will all work with my shoes and belt. This is one reason why I like jeans and khakis. Casual clothing takes up a lot less space than suits and is more relaxing to wear. It's also easier to mix and match.
MSN Healthy Living: How to stay healthy when you fly
I go to New York periodically for TV appearances, as well as meetings with partner websites. In the old days, both would have required a suit. These days, having a collar on your shirt is formal. I've done network interviews in jeans.
When you get home and unpack, take note of anything you didn't use. Remove it from your list and don't take it next time.
6. Think about how to pack.
My mother was a roller -- she liked to roll up shirts and pants, claiming they took up less space and were less likely to get wrinkled. I fold some things and roll others; I can fit a rolled-up pairs of boxer shorts in a shirt pocket. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. This is another reason to start early: Try different packing methods to see how much you can compress your clothes.
7. Do laundry.
Pop quiz: You're going to Europe for 10 days. How many days of clothes do you need? Answer: Five. That's because halfway through your trip, you're going to do laundry.
When you're at home, washing your clothes is a hassle. When you're in Europe, it's an adventure. Of course, you could just turn it over to the hotel and have the staff there do it, or turn your sink into a washing machine. But wherever you are, I'd encourage you to ask around and do what the locals do. It's challenging, interesting, will provide a unique experience, and you never know whom you might meet.
What about women?
It's a safe bet that a lot of females reading this article are thinking, "Sure, easy for you to say. You're a man. But from makeup to shoes, women simply require more stuff."
I won't argue the point. But I can say I've traveled internationally on many occasions with women who brought only a carry-on. And if you do a search for "traveling with only a carry-on," you'll find articles written by women who routinely do it as well.
More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:
- 10 tips to save on baggage fees
- What's the best seat on a plane?
- 10 of the world's worst fees and how to beat them
- Smart Spending on the go: Get our app for Android or iPhone
- Government mulls looser in-flight device rules
- A $1.5 billion ticket to the moon
I am a woman and I always travel with just a carry on and personal bag. I just keep my makeup & "personal care" routine to a minimum while traveling and wash my clothes in the sink or shower. The last cruise the hubby and I took, I went 10 days out of a carry on and personal bag. I often wonder what our stateroom attendant thought of my clothes hanging all over the bathroom. :)
And before you jump all over me, I have had multiple TSA screeners praise/thank me for being prepared at security (I step aside and get my shoes off, baggie, etc. BEFORE I get to the line), my personal bag goes under the seat in front of me & my carry on goes in the overhead bin above me. I always turn my bag so the bottom goes in, that way it maximizes the overhead space (I hate people who turn them the long way or don't put their coat ON TOP of their luggage & hog all the overhead space).
Really, traveling by plane is just a matter of courtesy and common sense.........two things slowly becoming extinct.............
The people who carry on bags too big or that won't fit are bigger than the maximum allowed or the bag would fit easily in the overhead. If he is using the size bag he mentions to use, it is not causing any problems.
I respectfully disagree with kevsteck about travelling with only chedked in luggage. My wife and I have extensively travelled through out the world with a carry-on each and a travel purse and shoulder pack. We have done so on cruises and land trips with no problems.
On the other hand, on many occasions, we have experienced missing checked on luggage which greatly inconvenienced us.
In other words, rather than criticizing the author, you should know that what works for one traveler may not work for another.
The author typifies the kind of travelers I can't stand on airlines. Oversized, overstuffed carry on bags put over the seats closest to the front of the aircraft while the passenger's seat is all the way aft. I think checking bags is much more stress free. I've never wrestled or been a victim of elbowing at the baggage carousel.
I think all bags should be checked through as it would save millions of hours at security lines and reduce TSA and airline costs.
* Patterned dress shirts show fewer wrinkles than solid colors.
* Carry a steamer or small multi-voltage iron, and most hotels have irons anyhow.
* For casual, visit a quality sporting goods store and check out their 'fly-fishing' shirts, shorts and
pants. These can be hand washed and rinsed in a hotel sink and will dry by morning.
* Some places (REI and Exoficcio ) carry underwear with the same benefits, but these are quite
expensive. Better to use plain cotton, which dries just as quickly.
* Get yourself a small roller-bag that has a hard-shell on the bottom, as this is where you pack your
more wrinkle-prone clothes. Accessories and less wrinkle prone items go in the soft shell area.
* Its cheaper to buy a small pocket knife(with a nail file) when you arrive at your destination than to
pay baggage fees. Toss them or give them away prior to your return home.
* Cordovan shoes go with any color clothing. One pair will thus suffice.
* Dark grey socks work with both black and blue. One pair of brown should do it and can be
washed out in the sink if you need them more than once.
* When flying, wear layers. Less to pack and you can take things off on the plane.
Yep - here is the bum that crowds the overhead - needs help since his bag won't fit, and expects everyone to wait on him! I wish all airlines would allow only 1 carry-on the size of a computer bag!
Never shipped ahead to Europe, but I do it all of the time in the US, and it is nice to have your stuff waiting on you when you get there - plus if you get your boarding pass the day before you can go straight to security.
Don't think about yourself - there are 100 other folks that you make life difficult for!
kevstek you are an idiot.
Many car rentals are away from the airport.
Do not give up your day job of being a world traveler.
I travel with one carry on plus computer. My grandkids do the same and have ever since they were old enough to fly with me.
Moms have a propensity to over pack.
If we need some thing bad enough we get it at the good will and donate it back when we leave.
Cheap you say,nope smart is as smart does I say.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Tired of your wallet taking a beating at the grocery store? Here are some creative ways to save big on food costs.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'