Why I Don’t Carry On My Luggage

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Why I Don't Carry On My Luggage

“When you meet a vegan who does Crossfit, which one do they talk to you about first?”

“OHHHHHHH! It’s funny because it’s truuuuuuue!” as the Family Guy character would say. But I can think of a third type of person who always seems to talk about what they do: the carry-on traveler.

It seems like everyone wants to carry on their luggage. People get complimented by others when they do. People rave about how much time they save at the airport by carrying on. People write endless guides and books about carrying on only. And frequent travelers who exclusively carry on, well, you’ll probably know by the end of your first conversation with them.

Carry-on travelers do make a lot of good points — carrying on your luggage is lighter, it’s easier to carry, it’s cheaper, and you don’t need to worry about the airline losing your luggage. And believe me, if you want to carry on your luggage, that’s great. I’m thrilled for you. But it’s not the only way, despite what carry-on evangelists would have you think.

I very, very rarely carry on my luggage. In fact, I don’t think I’ve done so since 2011. I thought it would be good to explore the reasons why I choose to check my luggage instead.

Kate, Lisa, Cailin, Mike and Steph at Bloghouse Milwaukee

I like dressing up.

Carrying on means paring your belongings down to just a few things, which becomes problematic if you’re staying somewhere for longer than a weekend. I don’t like wearing the same items again and again in all my pictures, and I don’t like looking like a hobo, either.

Checking my luggage allows me to bring a variety of clothes that make me happy, flatter me, and make for much better photos. Standing at a scenic overlook wearing a pink and black vintage-style dress makes a much better picture than a raspberry tank top that reveals your complete bra line and a black cotton skirt washed so many times it’s starting to turn greenish-gray.

I’m actually trying something new this summer. Because I’m in Europe, where people dress much more neatly and I stay in higher quality accommodation, I decided to bring all nice clothing this summer. Several dresses. High heels and nice flats. Embellished tank tops. My favorite leather motorcycle jacket. Even a small steamer to keep the dresses items looking their best.

So far, it’s paid off. I went out with a crew of locals here in Copenhagen Saturday night and I was delighted to see that I fit in perfectly wearing nice jeans, the comfiest low black pumps on the planet, a black flowy tank top embellished with blue and silver sequins, and my leather jacket.

I wouldn’t do that on the backpacker trail in Central America or Southeast Asia. Those are different kinds of trips. But for Europe, it’s good to dress up more than you would at home, and I have so many more options than if I carried on.

New Makeup

The liquids rule requires more hassle.

I love makeup and carry a big arsenal of products with me, including several liquid and gel products from moisturizer and eye cream to setting spray, brush cleaner, BB cream, various liquid liners and glosses, and more.

Packing every single one of those products into tiny containers and sealing them in bags that you can take out and separate for every flight? No thanks.

And while a small container of face wash or hair serum will last a few months, shampoo and conditioner certainly won’t — so if you’re traveling for longer than a few days, your only options are to use solid shampoo or buying new trial sized bottles wherever you go. Again, no thanks.

Laptop in Malta

Technology is a greater priority for travelers.

When I left for my semester in Florence 11 years ago, I didn’t pack a single device that plugged in (!). My film camera ran on disposable batteries; I wrote my papers at public computers in internet cafes.

How the world has changed. So many of us work online now. All but the most tech-phobic travel with a smartphone at the very least, and it’s increasingly popular to travel with a laptop, Kindle, tablet, and more tech gear. These are all items that should never be checked (see below for more on that) and they will take up priority space in your carry-on luggage.

Can you fit all your belongings into your carry-on bag alongside your tech and camera gear? Fewer and fewer people can.

Kate Double Turtle

Passengers don’t respect the carry-on limits.

With increasing fees, more travelers are carrying on their luggage — and that means you’re now competing for space with even more people.

While in a perfect world, people would obey the carry-on luggage limits and only take the space they’re allotted, this is rarely followed. Many passengers overpack and take up more than their share of luggage space, which results in the later-boarding passengers having nowhere to store their things and end up having to check them after all.

You can generally avoid this if you’re all but the last person to board, but it can still be complicated finding a place where you can store your bag. This would be easier if airline staff enforced the carry-on limits at the time of check-in, but the majority of them don’t even give you a second look.

Kate's Oprey Bag

Some airlines are strict about carry-on.

Conversely, some airlines DO enforce limits strictly — but to a worse degree. If you fly EasyJet, for example, you’re allotted exactly one carry-on item. Which means that even if you show up with a small rolling suitcase and a purse or laptop bag, they won’t allow you to board until the purse or laptop bag is packed in your suitcase.

And that means that you’ll have to give up precious space in your luggage, space that could be used for more clothes, to make room for your purse or laptop bag.

I personally think EasyJet’s policy is a pain in the ass — everyone opens their suitcases and takes out their purses as soon as they board, which delays the seating even more! — but at least they’re serious about keeping people from taking up too much luggage space.

Kate's Old Bag

It’s rare for airlines to actually lose your luggage.

I’ve taken probably at least 200 flights in my life, and my luggage has been lost a grand total of twice. That’s a rate of about 1%.

Both times, there was a clear reason for it. The first time was coming home from my semester in Florence in 2004. I was on the school’s group flight, with around 30 of us flying in a small plane to Munich before changing to a much larger plane to New York.

Because so many of us had brought several suitcases roughly the size of hippos for our semester abroad, there wasn’t enough room for all of the bags. Only some made it on the first flight; the rest were sent the next day. It was delivered straight to my home in Massachusetts the next morning, even though my flight landed at JFK.

The second time was on my way from Bangkok to Milan in 2013. I had a very tight connection in Frankfurt — 90 minutes, which was exacerbated by my incoming flight being 15 minutes late. I skipped every line, ran through the terminals, and still missed my flight; so did my luggage. I convinced the airline to put me on a flight to Bologna since I had missed my train connection; my bag didn’t get the memo in time and was flown to Milan instead.

Frankfurt is a monster of an airport — I don’t recommend having a connection there tighter than two hours when changing from international to domestic/Schengen or vice versa. I usually book a three-hour layover, just in case.

It worked out in the end. Despite Italy’s disorganization, I had my luggage delivered to my apartment by the next morning.

On both occasions that my luggage was lost, I got my it back within 24 hours of my flight landing. Now, I’ve known people who had their luggage delayed for longer than that. But it was very, very unusual.

Spacepak in Backpack

Tips for Flying with Checked Luggage

If you choose to take my route of checking your luggage, here are my top tips for doing it right.

Use Quality Luggage That You Love

If you’re using luggage you hate, you’re going to be miserable for your whole trip. Use a bag that fits your belongings, and make sure you can transport it comfortably on your own, including up and down stairs.

Here are the two bags that I use for checked luggage these days:

  • Osprey Sojourn 25-inch 60L Wheeled Pack — my regular bag since mid-2013. It’s built like a tank, has tons of pockets, and it’s easy to maneuver. I wrote a full review of it here. (FYI, I received this bag for free from Osprey in exchange for the aforementioned review.)
  • PacSafe Venturesafe 55L GII — a newer addition to my arsenal, this is the most thief-proof bag I’ve ever owned, and I love how strong the construction is. (FYI, I received this bag for free from PacSafe as part of a freelance project I’m doing with the company.)

NEVER, EVER Check Your Valuables

Valuables should always stay in your carry-on luggage and never be checked. What is considered a valuable? Anything that you would be despondent to lose. That includes:

  • Your laptop, smartphone, Kindle or e-reader, tablet, and/or any other electronic gear
  • Your camera and lenses
  • Any medications that are critical to your health
  • Any fine jewelry
  • Anything else expensive that you can fit in your carry-on bag

Get Travel Insurance

Did you know that some travel insurance companies will reimburse you if your luggage is delayed? At least my company does!

I use World Nomads and if your luggage is delayed more than 12 hours, you can be reimbursed for up to $150 per day to buy new clothes and toiletries.

Travel insurance is vital for many reasons, and this is yet another reason why.

Know Your Luggage Weight

Be sure to weigh your luggage in advance. Many budget airlines, especially those in Europe, charge you by the weight of your checked bags. Sometimes knowing the difference between 20 kg and 25 kg can save you quite a bit of money.

Pay for Checked Luggage Ahead of Time

If it costs money to check a bag, pay for it when you book your flight. While you can always pay at the time of check-in, it’s often much more expensive this way.

One example — on Norwegian Airlines, upgrading your travel class ahead of time gets you one checked bag, one or two meals, and you can choose your seat. If you wait until you arrive at the airport, it will cost more to check your bag and you won’t get the meals.

Osprey Sojourn

The Takeaway

I’m not saying that it’s bad to carry on your luggage — I’m just saying that carrying on is not for everyone and it’s not for me. Make the best decision for your own your personal travel needs.

Just know that you’re not alone, and you’re not a bad traveler if you want to check your luggage. It’s totally okay. You’ll be glad when you see how nice you look in your travel photos.

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Do you prefer to carry on or check your luggage? Why?

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145 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Carry On My Luggage”

  1. Hello! New reader here and I just want to say that I totally agree with this post. I spent my entire life traveling from Florida to Italy (moms family is there) and then across Europe. I always checked a bag and carried on a small tote with valuables, tablet, books, and a small cosmetic bag with things to freshen up with. I’d rather keep it light through the airports and on a plane.

    1. You’re so right about the passengers exceeding their travel limits. I got pushed back in a boarding line when I was visiting Rocky Mountain National Forest last week, and I had only a little carry on that fits under the seat, but I found I was the one asked to check baggage, while other passengers had 3 or 4 bags.

    2. I am with you! Carry- on luggage causes long unnecessary delays. It is also dangerous now because the overheads are bursting at the seams! If these open during rough air, someone can be killed, certainly injured. The airlines should charge to bring carry- on and make stowing free. I’ve suggested this many times. My husband & I are diamond level travelers and the carry on is our biggest peeve. I never carry luggage on board, just a pleather bag for my ipad, headphones etc.
      could you correct one thing? Your luggage dod NOT get lost. It was delayed. My husband has travelled well over 1 million miles and has only experienced DELAYED luggage 3 times, never lost.

  2. I couldn’t agree more.

    I try and pack light because I don’t like lugging too much around and I think there is definite issues with packing too much. In Thailand my sister and I were applauding these two girls for going carry on because they had quite large backpacks as carry on- only to see them pull the biggest suitcase I have ever seen off the luggage claim when we arrived. I don’t think I could pack that much if I tried!

    However there is a difference between packing light and packing only for carry on. Having that little bit of extra space means I can dress nicely and especially for European winters I can pack my nice and warm coat! Definite benefits to that.

  3. All the times that my luggage wasn’t at baggage claim was because of a missed connection or some other similar flying snafu. One time in Madrid, we just barely made our connection but the luggage didn’t. So we made our way to our hotel and lo and behold, the luggage was waiting for us when we got there. The airline was faster than the metro =)

    1. I don’t have travel knowledge, how did the airport know what hotel you were staying at? Did you have something on your luggage along with your name and cell number? Is that safe to say where your staying?

      1. DeHaven Collins

        Mary, if your bag is not waiting for you, you don’t just leave the airport. You report your loss and it is during that process that you give them your hotel information. It is not dangerous. Time for you to hop on a plane and go somewhere exciting!!!

  4. It depends. Last summer I did 6 weeks in Europe with a carry on, that got checked on the way home due to too many souvenirs. This last month we packed more and didn’t carry on.

    I prefer carry on for not having to spend 30 minutes waiting for bags. While everyone else is waiting I am already in my car heading home.

    I would love to dress better on vacation but 90% of my wardrobe is hang dry clothing. That doesn’t work in Europe when you’re traveling around to different cities. So I revert to a gap wardrobe (that never sees the light of day back home) that can withstand washing and drying at laundromats.

    Next summer will be weeks in the same city….so I’ll be packing the nicer clothes.

    1. Brenda J. Williams

      I agree with you 100%, I will take a carry on any day over checking in, my bags have been lost twice and I had to return to airport later the next day to retrieve, with carry on I’m in my car and gone, that extra money is spent having fun on vacation, depending on where you’re going, who needs all those extra clothing, thanks for your comment.

    2. Odd. I fly often and I rarely have to wait for my checked bag. By the time I get off the airplane, go to the bathroom and walk down to baggage claim, my luggage is usually going around the carousel. (I do, however, often fly in and out of large airports, so maybe people flying into small airports wouldn’t have as long of a walk to baggage claim.)

      Still, I don’t get what the big deal is with having to wait a few extra minutes. Someone mentioned they have to wait 30 minutes; I wonder where that is, as I fly into airports all over the world and have NEVER waited more than 5 minutes at the carousel.

  5. Ha, I am totally one of those ‘carry on’ people – as long as I am traveling for under a week. I’ve never lost my luggage – thank God – but I just dont like the idea of having a big/heavy thing with me, and thus suffering reduced mobility (I would probably collapse under that ginormous backpack you’re wearing!). That said – thank’s for reminding me to get travel insurance!

  6. Oh, is there a portable steamer you recommend? Everything I’ve seen has gotten lukewarm reviews at best. So I just pack a lot of thick jersey and chiffon…

    1. Hi Anna,

      My 73-year-old world-traveling aunt taught me the trick of bringing a small spray bottle when traveling. Just pull your clothes out the night before, mist them with some water, hang them up, and they’ll be wrinkle free (or near it) the next morning.

      She also irons all her clothes before she leaves, but not all of us are retired yet…


  7. I am a big proponent of checked luggage too! Not every time, but if it’s looking like my carry-on luggage is going to be heavy and obnoxiously big I check my luggage — comfort is paramount, especially since flying can be such a harried experience. I travel mostly with a partner – either my husband or friend, so another tip is to see if it makes sense to check one piece of luggage for 2 or even 3 people. Frontier airlines only charges $15 for checked luggage weighing up to 50 lbs, and actually $25 for carry-on. So when we flew Frontier from DC to Fort Myers, FL we packed only 1 bag for two people and checked it — it was glorious.

  8. Ugh. Italy. I was stuck 5 days wearing the same two outfits because my luggage was lost. That said, I’d still probably check my bag — and if they lost it again, I’d take advantage of reimbursements for “having” to buy Italian clothes. Lesson learned. 😉

  9. I prefer carrying on, but it’s not really possible if your trip is a week or longer I think (for the average person!). There have been many times that I was glad I had carry-on only!

    There was once when I was living in CA I was flying home for Thanksgiving (so 4-5 day trip, and all my winter clothing lived at my parents house, so it was easy to pack light), and I landed in I think Philly, PA 5 am on Thanksgiving day. At the gate, there were people who had been supposed to get into Hartford, CT the night before, but the flight was canceled due to fog. When the morning flight to Hartford, my flight, was delayed due to fog, I saw that the next gate over was flying to Providence, RI, and when i asked they allowed me to change to that flight but *only* because I hadn’t checked a bag. If I had checked a bag, I could have spent Thanksgiving stuck ~6 hr drive from home (while later flights that day did make it to Hartford, my original flight was eventually canceled).

    (For anyone not familiar with east coast geography, Philly is 4-5 h drive from Hartford, and Hartford and Providence are each ~ 1 1/2 hr drive from my parents place. The people whose Wednesday night flight had been canceled had tried to get the airline to just bus them to Hartford, but if they skipped that leg of their flight on their own, their return tickets would have been canceled.)

    Another instance, my first flight arrived early and I was able to get a seat on an earlier flight to my final destination, instead of having a 2+ hr layover that was originally scheduled. Once when my flight was super late I was able to just barely catch the last bus to my destination because I didn’ have to wait for the bag. Also, at my current home airport, baggage takes forever to come out on the carousel.

  10. You can still pack dressy clothes in your carry on. Silk and polyester blends, for example, pack down to practically nothing, don’t wrinkle too badly, and dry quickly if you hand wash them in your hotel or hostel. Additionally, I avoid the liquids restrictions by just buying smaller sized toiletries in the city I am in, if I can (though I also still pack small liquids to take with me in case I don’t have a chance to do that right away. After all, there is no guarantee that the airplane or airport bathrooms will be well stocked). Finally, for those who don’t want to be too dressy, but also don’t want to be accused of looking “like a hobo,” you can’t go wrong with a business casual look. It’s easy to dress up with additional makeup or costume jewelry and a jazzier pair of shoes if you want to transition from day to night.

  11. I wrote about this same thing awhile back. I got tired of people preaching to me about how checking luggage is stupid. I like my shoes. I like having outfit options. I like having room to bring things home.

    It’s not a sin to check a bag!

    I did go carry-on only when I went to NYC but I specifically packed a folding bag that I checked on the way home after a trip to H&M, Zara, and DSW. 😉

  12. Great post! When my dad was alive, he would tell me horror stories about luggage (he worked at the airport for over 25-30 years), so I hardly ever check my luggage unless I HAVE to because of that. He would also never check his luggage, so I always just did what he did and now it’s a habit.

  13. Great article, Kate.

    Having just returned from a 3-week trip to the US from the UK, this article really hit a chord with me 🙂

    As someone who is 6’2″, trying to get even one decent change of clothes into carry on is a struggle sometimes! It depends on the airline of course, but the budget airlines over in the UK are very strict about size and weight limits. I therefore nearly always check my bags.

    Like you, I do marvel at how much people are allowed to get away with in terms of carry on with the major carriers. Sometimes two or three large suitcases appear from overhead lockers, while I’m content just to bring on a small rucksack and my camera bag. Even then, finding a spot to stow them can be problematic!


  14. I used to travel for business all the time, and my colleagues would sneer at me when I checked my bags. But I reduced my stress massively by checking. One thing the Carry-on crowd are obsessed with is getting on the plane as soon as humanly possible because of the overhead space. They have anxiety attacks if they miss their boarding group. For me I would just wait until the last minute to board.

    Now I travel for fun instead of work I can check without judgement!!

  15. I always check my luggage. Usually only one bag. At the moment, I fly almost exclusively with Qatar Airways and checked baggage is free. But that isn’t the only reason. If I carry too much, my shoulders hurt and then I am uncomfortable for days after. Not a good way to start a trip. I also like to have clothing and shoe options like you do.

  16. Hahaha, the quip about carry-on-only-ers is so true. I used to be such a brat about it. The main reason I still tend to do carry on is the waiting involved at baggage claim. I can never seem to get through it quickly! Coming back from Dubai, it took 2.5 hours to get my bag back in O’Hare, so I missed my train back to Michigan (though it wouldn’t surprise me if that was just an Emirates issue. Or an O’Hare issue). Thankfully, with vacuum sealed bags, I’ve found a way to bring all of the outfits I want while still using my favorite carry-on friendly backpack. Looking decent is super important to me, too. If it causes me to lose some “backpacker street cred,” so be it. At least I can change my outfits to live out my exile in style. 😉

  17. Yeah, I don’t get the virtuous carryon-onlies either. I can do it, and do so frequently, on short business trips where I only need one change of clothing. But why would I want to if I’m going on a long vacation where I want to do lots of different stuff? 20 minutes extra at the airport is well worth it to be able to bring climbing gear, snorkeling gear, or as on the last trip, three really nice outfits for a wedding, in addition to daily wear. Yes, you can wash out clothes at the hotel and buy stuff you need, but I’d rather be doing other things than washing clothes or shopping. Backpacking trips are a whole different animal.

  18. Great points! I’m all for travelling light, but I spent my 20s travelling only with those raspberry tank-tops and pilled skirts that you talk about, and I felt like the daggiest traveller ever (which I was). I have decided that in my 30s, I don’t want to look back on my photos and feel embarrassed! The trick with packing light and having nice clothes, I think, is finding good neutrals that match.

  19. Definitely not a carry on person. Nothing more infuriating than having to lose my hand luggage space for my small backpack because half the plane brought on a freaking wheely bag as “hand luggage”. And the ridiculous wait to actually get to my seat because they people then get their bag stuck/can’t fit it in somewhere just adds to that. No harm in having a bit of patience and waiting at baggage claim, where waiting times seldom exceed 30mins in my experience.

  20. I also prefer to check my luggage even on my most journey when travelling to TBEX Europe in Lloret de Mar which was only a 4-days trip. I also like to take nice clothes with me on a trip and I don’t like to squeeze in my clothes in a small trolley. I especially don’t like to fill my cosmetics into little containers which are not big enough or where liquids tend to run out. My daypack, which I always take onboard with me only contains my Canon EOS 70D, my Laptop, my other electronics and the most essential medications, that it.

    P.S.: Inspired by your review I purchased the Osprey Sojourn 25-inch 60L Wheeled Pack in August 2013 and I using it on all my tavels ever since.

    1. It’s especially nice to look good at travel blogging events because most travel bloggers dress like crap! When you prioritize travel over all things and work in a very difficult field for making money, you tend to look like a hobo more often than not…and thanks for buying the bag! Glad it’s treating you well.

  21. Same here! I almost ALWAYS check my bag- I’ve actually taken to carrying a small suitcase since my backpack got stolen and I like it a lot. I’ve actually never had the airline lose my luggage- yet! (knock on wood).

  22. Apparently I’m in the minority, at least of commenters on this post, but I pretty much only carry on. There’s nothing wrong with checking your luggage if you want to, but the smaller carry-on requirements ensure that I have a backpack that I can actually lift and walk around with for several hours if I have time to kill before a flight or a train or something. I’m petite, so those larger backpacks are too heavy for me if I fill them (which I will, if the space is there). And yes, I could check my smaller backpack, but why pay for that if it’s allowed on the plane? I find that I can pack about the same for a week as for a month – without looking sloppy- if I plan well.

    Also, flying with a carry-on gives me a lot more flexibility in terms of volunteering to get bumped (and get a voucher) or flying standby on an earlier flight. Often if you have checked luggage you’re ineligible for those things.

    When it comes down to it – who cares? Do whatever suits you best, as long as it’s not inconveniencing anyone else.

    1. Great point, Mary B.! I LOVE to get bumped, when possible, and to take advantage of future free tickets.
      Also, I find more and more often that people are having lost luggage issues, due to planes cutting their budget to bare bones and selling out every single seat. We have only had our luggage lost once, but that was enough!

  23. I’ve never thought of it this way! When I was little I HATED carry-ons. I prefer being free to walk around airports without lugging anything behind. However I do think carry-ons are worth it when it comes to airlines like RyanAir who carry for non-carry-ons (and who will usually put your bigger carry-on suitcases in the plane at the gate anyway). Interesting post!
    xx, Pia


  24. I pride myself on how small by bag is. It’s a 22 inch eagle creek and generally weighs in at 11kg. Eric carries an Osprey Porter 46, which is about the same size, but we almost always check, like you say, for the liquids. We are testing long term travel with tiny travel size shampoo and conditioner. Not sure it will last.

  25. If I go away for a short time I will just carry-on but I like to have a big suitcase when I travel. It makes me anxious to commit to only a few outfits, I like to pack for all scenarios and weather conditions! Plus I need room to bring stuff back from my trips. I always carry on a small bag with an extra outfit and some underwear just in case…

  26. I’m so glad you mentioned how carrying too much on board affects other travelers. It irks me when someone has a huge piece of luggage on an overseas flight where checked bags are free and another person with a backpack is forced to put that under their seat. Or those travelers who put both their wheeled luggage and backpack in the overhead bin. It’s inconsiderate.

  27. In China they take hand luggage to a whole new level and if you don’t get onto the plane in the first few minutes there will be no chance of putting anything up into the hold!

  28. At one point in my life, I traveled back and forth between Hawaii and Arizona so much that I became a gold member. This meant my first 2 check in bags were free! I would check in all my bags and just use my carry on for valuables. It was so nice only having to walk on with a laptop and not having to worry about lugging my carry-on bag with me through the airport!

  29. There’s definitely times where I need to check a bag but I really am a carry on person. I find it cuts my anxiety way down, especially if flying for a press trip or somewhere I would be bummed to not have my clothes the first day. I also hate waiting for the luggage to show up at the airport. I think one time I waited like 30 mins for my luggage and in that time it meant I ended up with everyone else at the longest line for car rental at the airport. Two hours of sitting in that line I realized I would only check when I really had to because it such a huge chunk of time wasted.

    Also, times when I have gone bigger I have really regretted it by bringing too much. It’s hard to pare down but man there is nothing more obnoxious to me then having to cart a big back or backpack around. It depends on the trip but if I can carry on I always do. Though I loved your analogy at the beginning – I feel that way about Paleo people! hahaha!

  30. I’m totally okay to check my luggage, EXCEPT when I’m flying to Spain. I’ve been three times – once for a high school graduation trip (2 weeks), once for a semester studying abroad, and then again for a reunion trip with a study abroad friend. The first two times I went to Spain, my luggage got completely lost along the way and took several days to make it to my hotel / apartment. The last time I went to Spain, I went carry-on only simply because I was incredibly superstitious about having my stuff lost again.

    I’d say that even if you’re checking the bulk of your luggage, it’s always a good idea to pack a change of clothes or two, or even just a few extra pairs of underwear, in case something does happen along the way – then you at least have something to wear while you shop for new clothes!

  31. I carry on for trips less than a week (depending on what the allowance is) but I check my bag for longer trips. I hate suitcases and heavy backpacks though so I have a 40L with a 10L day pack I carry on my front and pack it to the gills – this works for me

  32. I can see why some like to check baggage. However I’m the epitome of “traveling light” style. Traveling the world and almost never checking anything. Last time I checked a suitcase in, was a month ago to Cuba and only because I brought a whole extra suitcase with clothes to donate to local kids and families.

  33. I recently went to Southeast Asia for three weeks and checked my (small) suitcase. It was free so why not? I wasn’t ‘back-packing’ through Asia, we stayed in hotels, didn’t take public transportation. Other pluses were I only had to do laundry a couple times rather than several if I had only brought a carry on. It was still small and easy enough to get around. Also my carry on with my computer, camera and essentials hit the weight limit for our internal flights so I have no idea how I would have fit everything in there.

  34. I’m able to travel either way. On a trip to the Galapagos with extra days in Quito and at an eco-lodge in the Amazon, I had one carryon and a small daypack. But, we never went anywhere that required anything nice, so I had washable outfitters pants with zip-off legs and fast-drying shirts and undies. 10 days, one carry one. But a 12 day trip to Australia and New Zealand, including 7 days of crusing (formal wear, swimwear, etc), heck yes, I check. I still managed to coordinate so that I don’t take too many shoes and I have a pair of black jeans that looks like chinos and can wear several times. I hate trudging through airports with a bag and a heavy backpack. yes, I do like my electronics!

    1. Hi, could you give me some tips as to wear to buy inexpensive wash and air dry clothing, and how do I know how much to pack for a seven month stay?

  35. It’s refreshing to hear that another frequent traveler doesn’t have the carry on fever. We carry on our Mac Airs, PJs, meds, and and ebook readers. About everything else is checked. We’ve yet to lose a bag and we don’t have to compete to cram our luggage into those tight spaces.

  36. I love this post. I hate carry-ons and rarely do the airlines lose luggage to the point that it doesn’t come back at some stage anyway. The waiting for people to shove oversized bags into that little space and end up arguing with the poor airline stewards about gate checking it because they can’t follow instructions or rules in place for ages now… it’s annoying. Whenever possible I love checking my bags,I just wish for what I pay for airfare they’d take 2 bags as with the old days instead of one and charging up the behind for the second.

  37. Taking too much luggages can be very uncomfortable on your vacation. I learned my lesson so everytime I travel I keep things simple. I take the esentials and nothing more.

  38. ive always checked on luggage. i dont think i could take enough if I just had carry on, although I am suitably impressed by people who travel with only one shirt and underwear for months on end. Yes, I have met someone who did just that!

  39. I always check luggage for most of the same reasons but I have to tell you that last year an airline lost my checked backpack FOREVER! So it does happen. (It was Tiger Air. Obviously, I’m not flying *them* again!). Now when I travel I’m very careful not to have anything valuable or loved in my checked baggage. (Although ironically the thing I miss most is the backpack itself, which I’d been travelling all around the world with for over 15 years).

  40. Brilliant post as usual Kate! I prefer to check in my stuff.
    Like you, I need to dress for every eventually especially as I do both lifestyle & fashion. I mean, last year I was on a press trip to France. I was the only British person there and the only blogger. I was NOT going to let the side down LOL!

    Also, I like hiking and walking a lot. I’ don’t want to destroy my boots so I take hiking shoes or trainers with me as well as weather-dependent stuff. I went to Lithuania & Latvia in April this year. It was snowing. Yep!
    But not to worry, I had leggings, jeans and thick socks in my suitcase. And it was a suitcase as we did Eastern European / Russian glam. I even had my fur coat with me. I didn’t need it in the end, but I had it. Just in case LOL….!

  41. We organize women only trips and tours and we so totally agree with all of what you’ve said! However there is one advantage to travelling together, which is that most airlines look at the cumulative baggage allowance for the group than for an individual which allows for at least a few gals in the group to break the travel light rules:)

  42. I think you are totally right. I used to check in and now I have to wear the same thing all over my pictures and sometimes this means wearing shorts and not dressed up t-shirts! . I might just start to check in!

  43. Interesting perspectives on this, Kate. I have been checking in my luggage more often for the sake of convenience and weight. Although I’ve had some luggage I could have carried on, I chose to check in because I hate lugging over my head and struggling with it since I have very little upper body strength. In terms of trains or boats, I usually opt to carry it with me, but at the airport, I just find it easier to check it in and not put valuable items so I don’t have worry about it. There’s always tons of hype about things like lost luggage, so it’s refreshing to hear someone say that this is a rare occurrence for them and others.

  44. Great post. I tend to do the carry-on only thing, but that’s mostly so I don’t have to pay for the cost of checking luggage (and in Canada both our major airlines are charging for checked bag, which sucks). Sometimes I’ll check a bag coming back home from a trip, because I figure if worse comes to worse and my bag is delayed or lost at least I’m at home and I don’t have to rush out to replace my clothes, etc.

  45. Interesting post, Kate.

    I swear by carry on and I always look great in my photos! I can take usually 5-6 dresses in a carry on, a nice pair of shoes, and some accessories in addition to my regular everyday clothes/shoes/athletic wear.

    I used to pack checked luggage and changed it up about 2 years ago and I will never go back.
    I am far from looking like a hobo when I travel!

  46. Thank you for writing this! I always feel like I have to defend myself for bringing a full blown suitcase. Because I write about travel shopping people assume it’s because I buy a lot of stuff but that’s not usually the reason (except maybe the 12 pounds of French supermarket souvenirs from Paris), it’s because I like to wear my favorite outfits when I travel. I’ve also traveled with friends juggling three small separate carry on bags while I can push my one bag with a fingertip through any airport or train station (I obsessively researched the lightest possible suitcase). The same carry on only folks also didn’t seem to mind borrowing clean clothes from me when their supply ran out. And you never know when you’ll be invited to a fancy event and need to pull out those heels (yup it’s happened!). And the one time my bag was delayed for a few hours (I was sleeping anyway) I ended up with an upgrade to biz class on the way home for the trouble.

  47. Great points definitely, but I always prefer to do carry-on. Less hassle, you have everything at your finger tips, never have to worry about something getting lost/stolen, and you are in full control of all your belongings!

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