When it comes to flying, there may be nothing more maddening than dealing with checked baggage.

First of all, there’s the added expense, especially as airlines are increasingly struggling to squeeze every penny out of their passengers. And while $25 to $50 per bag might not seem all that bad, if you’re a regular traveler, it really adds up.

Then there’s the ever-dreaded possibility of losing your luggage – you didn’t fly 1,500 miles to spend your vacation dressed in clothes from the hotel gift shop.

Finally, there’s the simple fact that checked baggage is a hassle. It doesn’t matter that you’ve just spent seven hours sitting on a plane – once you’ve disembarked, that twenty minutes of waiting by the baggage carousel can feel like forever.

The solution is simple – go 100% carry-on.

  • Bring the right bag!

The rules vary between airlines, but they pretty much all allow a small suitcase and one personal bag, such as a purse, laptop bag, or backpack. Take advantage of this and use the biggest bags possible. If you’re going to want a smaller purse at your destination, stick it inside a bigger backpack so that you get extra cramming space. Bottom line – think big.

  • But also think small.

The nice thing about checking a bag is that you don’t have to be as limited in terms of what you pack along, but with carry-on you have to make choices. Bring only what you absolutely need, and remember that you can always buy anything you have to leave behind at your destination. When it comes to clothes, try to bring just a few items that can be mixed and matched to make a variety of outfits.

  • Wear your heaviest things onto the plane.

If you need to bring a jacket, sweater, or suit, wear it onto the plane rather than packing it. Don’t worry about temperature – you can always remove layers once you’ve boarded.

  • Roll it up.

Lay out heavier clothes like pants, put lighter items like t-shirts on top, then roll them up. The more you can roll up, the more space you create.

  • Consider your shoes.

If you have to bring a second pair of shoes, try to pack your smallest pair, and put small items like socks inside them. If you’re bringing a pair that you’re not worried about scuffing up a bit – such as sneakers – tie the laces to the outside of the bag and let them dangle. They won’t count against your carry-on bag size.

  • Pack smart.

Remember that when you’re trying to fit everything into one or two small carry-ons, it’s going to be difficult to dig up certain items while traveling. Place possessions you won’t need until you reach your destination at the bottom of the bag, and makes sure things you’ll need such as your passport, money, snacks, and whatnot can be easily accessed.


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