We’ve all heard them – the horror travel stories of lost luggage, slipped discs from hauling suitcases up flights of stairs; budget airlines’ outrageous checked-in luggage fees; the hotel room where you couldn’t swing a cat, let alone find a shelf for your vanity case … If you don’t want luggage hassle in your life, join the carry-on-only club and enjoy the freedom of being first in line at immigration, dodging baggage-claim queues, trading taxis for a stroll, and having everything you need at your fingertips. Travel with a day pack using our six top tips, and you’ll never check-in luggage again!
Pick your pack
Check the carry-on baggage dimensions and weight for your chosen airline(s), then head to the shops for a lightweight day pack weighing no more than 2 kilograms. Make sure your pack has strong, comfortable shoulder straps (so it’s easy to carry) and plenty of outer mesh pockets. When on the plane, the pockets stay empty so your luggage fits into the overhead compartment. Once you hit the streets, you can fill the pockets with the sort of easy-to-reach items you’ll want to access often (such as your water bottle, sunglasses, travel guide, and snacks).
Take a mini-sack
Pack a mini-sack that folds down to fit into the palm of your hand. When you’re on the plane, use it to hold the items from your day pack that you’ll want while in the air (phone, magazine, snack, jacket etc). They can be stored under your seat. Mini-sacks are also perfect for day walks, sightseeing, and shopping trips once you reach your destination.
Unfair it may be, but it’s women who have to think hardest about downsizing belongings when it comes to packing. To fit all you need (for an infinite number of weeks away from home) into your carry-on luggage, the number one priority is reducing your makeup and toiletries so they all fit into a coffee mug. Buy some small boxes and bottles so that you can repackage the toiletries you love in travel-sized containers. Plan ahead to share bulky products such as shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen with a travel companion, or purchase these items once you reach your destination. Donate what you haven’t used to a charity before you leave for home. Limit footwear to two pairs only. Choose an elegant yet practical pair of sandals that are comfortable on the streets, yet classy enough for a night out. Wear heavier duty shoes (such as runners) on the plane.
Most mobile phones have a camera that will suit your needs so leave the big lenses at home! Sync your emails to your phone so you can say goodbye to the laptop or notebook as well. Never want to be without a book? Swap the phone for an iPad and download Kindle. Chopping and changing your devices to get what you want for the least space and weight has never been easier. Research the options before you leave home.
Love ‘em and leave ‘em
Nothing beats clothes shopping when you’re in the holiday mood, and most of us want to pick up and item or two when we’re away from home. Make sure the clothes you’re wearing when you board the plane are the sort you’re happy to part with. Exchange them for your new purchases when you arrive at your destination, and pass your pre-loved clothes on to a charity before you leave. If you plan to travel through several seasons or climatic zones, remember that warm outer layers can be picked up cheaply at budget stores or thrift shops (and nothing beats a rummage around in the op shops of another country!)
Buy services, not products
Most homeward travellers fill their luggage with purchases. Travel light by choosing to buy services instead. Swap the Persian carpet for a guided tour; choose a river cruise over a coat, a musical over a glass lampshade. Invest in memories, not luggage, and lighten your load!