Written July 2011

As I mentioned once before (I think?) we are getting ready to leave on a two week adventure.  Aside from all the preparations needed (and still needed!) to be done around here, there is the dilemma: Packing.

I don’t know about anyone or anywhere else, but there is a fee here for even one checked bag.  $25 for the first bag.  $50 for the second.  On every leg of your trip.  Sometimes, if you’re ahead of the game, show up early, and the person you get is in a decent mood – you can get your bags checked on through for free – or for one flat fee.  But more often than not, you are paying.

So that left us with a decision.  Or problem.  Or option.  You might say.  There is still the two free carry on item rule.  Of course, this is limited mostly to one carry on item and a purse (pack that purse full!).  If you are anything like us, you are not thinking about this until you’re at the airport, and on vacation mode, and most likely this doesn’t matter.  But to us – we are going to have connecting flights, that aren’t all booked through the same company, which means that not only will we have to check, and recheck our bags, we will be paying $25 per bag at each check stop.  Which means $75, per person.

Now, we aren’t trying to be stingy, but there is a difference between stingy and saving money.

If we can get away with it – we are going with no check bags, to china, and hopefully not paying a dime.  At least not to the airlines.

Now how are we going to do this?  Is it possible to take three adults, around the world, for two weeks, with only a carry on bag?

We will find out.  And find out we will!

When mom first heard this, she declared, a little too happily, that she wasn’t going to be bringing any clothes on the trip.  In fact, she was going to wear everything she wanted to bring, and that, would be that.

Thankfully I have talked her down from this steep ledge.

A few weeks ago her and dad took a two day trip North.  They brought a shared carry on bag.  And it was bursting at the seams.  For two days.  Her confession that she didn’t use any of the items brought just deepened her belief that she could go two weeks, in a foreign land with no luggage.

She also got patted down at the airport due to the fact that she was wearing about ten layers of clothing.  Now I will probably jinx myself here by saying this, but I have found that the less clothing you wear (while still being decent) the less troubles you have going through security.  Want to layer?  Do that after you get through the check point.


If you don’t wear it at home, you wont wear it while traveling.

OBVIOUSLY this doesn’t apply to climate changes.  I’m talking – about that shirt that is a bit too tight but is super cute so maybe you will break it out when you are surrounded by unfamiliar things.  Not true, and you will only end up taking up valuable space with a shirt that you want to throw away when you get home.


You don’t need thirty two pairs of socks, and sixty nine shirts.

If you are a custom to changing your shirt daily, and are religious about not wearing the same shirt twice in a year, then you’re screwed.  But for me, us, I find that if you bring a long sleeve shirt, and a few short sleeve shirts – you can layer, and change things up depending on weather, or event.  Bring a nice shirt, bring a comfortable shirt.  And bring a long sleeve one.  But don’t bring great uncles third cousins cardigan that has sat in the closet for years.  I know it might be wanting to get out – but the best outing for that is to the second hand store.  Not vacation.


Do NOT roll your clothes!

People say this saves space, I say it doesn’t.  Fold your clothes neatly, and nicely stack them.  Don’t put it all in at once.  Put in some clothes, then fill the little spaces with other things.  Nic-Nacks, books, cant live withouts.  Things like that.  Put them in the tiny spaces, then pile in more clothes.  You will save space this way.  Tuck things in your shoes.

And finally:

For the love of all things green, do not go without your hygiene items.

They won’t take up that much space, and we all know that there will be a loose nail, or stray hair as soon as you step on the plane.  Hygienic items don’t weigh that much, and don’t usually take up that much space.  However, if you are going strictly carry on – make sure your liquids are the correct size, and if you are traveling on multiple airlines, make sure you are in compliance with their rules as well.  No one likes a smelly person!

In short: If you don’t wear, don’t pack it.  Layer, layer, layer!  And don’t forgo the important things!


We DID it.  We successfully made it to China (and back) with only carry on items.  On the way back, we did check one extra piece of luggage (with our souvenirs/wet clothes, etc).  I even?  Managed to pack my pillow!  We might have soaked every clothing item we owned on the last day in china, and might have wore mismatched clothing on the plane home…but you know what?  We did it.  And would do it again, for sure!

2 thoughts on “Travel Tips: Carry on only -Is it possible?

  1. RoSy says:

    $25 per bag per stop is a little too steep for my pocket. Glad you were able to make it on the carry-ons!

  2. Stacia says:

    Way to go! I once forgot to pack my deodorant on a 24-flight to Melbourne. Oops. I am a big fan of traveling lightly, but maybe not that lightly..

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