A few years ago I discovered the idea of traveling with just one, light carry on bag. Which at first, it seemed like a total impossibility! But sick of dragging so much stuff along (most of which we didn’t use or really need), I decided it was worth a try. And I’m so glad I did! Carry on travel has made our journeys nearly stress-free and so much more enjoyable!
When I look back at how we used to travel, it seems like a nightmare! We stuffed our bags (the greatest number allowed), as full as possible. Sometimes even sitting on them to get them closed! And then like the man above, struggled to cart them along!
But perhaps the thought of traveling with only one carry on bag seems impossible to you.
But keep in mind, that unless you’re a hiker going way out in the bush or forest somewhere, you’ll almost always have water available. Water? What’s that got to do with it?
Well, the real trick to Carry-On Travel is washing things out as you need them! Just before retiring for the night, give your undergarments and shirt a quick wash up, and they’ll probably be dry by morning. Of course, traveling with lightweight, quick-drying fabrics helps a lot too. And remember, most places in the world have laundry services, dry cleaners, or laundry mats. Head out to one and meet some locals! It adds more real-life experience to your travels. Which to us, is the best part of traveling!
And just look at all the great advantages of carry-on travel!
No baggage claim lines!
With no bags checked, you get to just breeze past the baggage carousels. (And possibly be the first to snag a taxi or board the bus or train!)
This literally rescued me the last time I flew to the USA. Passport lines, baggage claim, luggage inspection and re-check lines were all long at JFK. And there is no way I would have caught my connecting flight in time, if I’d had bags to collect and recheck!
Shorter customs inspections.
Even if they do inspect your luggage, it shouldn’t take long with nothing but a small carry on. They can see what you have at a glance.
No extra baggage fees.
Hey, travel costs enough as it is. Why add to it? And, you can treat yourself to dinner out with the money saved!
Less risk of lost, stolen, or damaged bags.
Theft is greatly reduced when your one bag is always near you. And the airlines can’t lose or damage it if you never check it. So you never arrive without clean underwear! It also seems pretty impossible for anyone to lose their own bag; but as they say, “Never say never!”
Back when our mountain of luggage followed us everywhere, we once left a movie camera (borrowed from a friend, no less!!) in the car upon airport arrival. Thankfully, it was a friend’s car, not a taxi!
Not only our journeys are less stressful, but so is our time away. Not having lots of bags to keep track of or having to dig through piles of clothing brings me a sense of peace and freedom. Which brings me to the next point.
You can change plans, even adding extra stops.
You can add extra stops or little side trips to your journey, because getting around is so much easier. Why miss out on great experiences just because you’ve lugged a lot stuff you don’t need, and might not even use?
Get around more easily.
This is an important one, here in Europe. Cities are old, and full of stairs, bridges, and buildings without ramps. Dragging lots of bags up and down is not fun. We’ve done it. And I say, “Never. Again!”
It saves your back.
I’ve actually boarded planes and trains with achy back and arms from lifting too much heavy luggage. Not a good way to start a trip!
You don’t stand out.
Stand out as a helpless, confused tourist, that is. Zipping around with only one bag helps you seem confident and less likely to fall for both tourist gimmicks and thieves.
You’ll probably use all the clothes you take.
I’ve returned home only to realize I never used many things, killing my back for nothing! And these days, with airlines cutting luggage amounts so much, we can’t afford to take extra, unnecessary items!
It’s better for the environment.
First off, the less luggage (and other stuff) we buy, means less production of goods in general. And traveling light means using less fuel and equipment for bag transport. Which of course, means less consumption of natural resources and less pollution. So carry-on travel is not only smart, but environmentally wise too!
“Great!” you think. “But what if I don’t pack enough? Or find I need something?”
We’ve been traveling the Carry On Way for a few years now, and so far this has rarely happened. (And only in the beginning, when we were first starting out.) But you know, you could always buy a couple of items, if really necessary. And at least then you’d be getting usable souvenirs! Not dust-collecting baubles made-in-China, nearly guaranteed to break quickly or end up in an attic or garage sale!
But what we like best about Carry-On Travel is that traveling this way frees us to concentrate on new sights, new experiences, learning new things, and making new friends!
What will really count once you’re back home — how well-dressed you were? Or the fun, meaningful, and relaxed time you had?
Why trade adventure and new experiences for the burden of dragging lots of clothes around?