Hand Luggage Only – It’s Not Just a Financial Decision

Travel with only carry-on luggage enough times, and you might become an expert packer.

Besides, a sizable difference in ticket prices might seem like a lucrative reason to travel with just a carryon as well. 

Carrying only hand luggage has its pros and cons, though. Keep reading to find out what the dealmakers and dealbreakers are.

The Pros

1. Beat the Wait

Waiting is the least fun part of traveling. If you’re smart about checking in online and timing your arrival at the airport right, you could save yourself from a lot of waiting.

That’s not even the best part. If you do not have to check your luggage, there will be no more wasting your breath at counters or near-tussling for a spot at the baggage carousel.

2. All Within Reach

You don’t have to wonder if you remembered to pack your toothbrush or if you threw your earphones in the wrong suitcase. You can peek into your bag at any point and take anything as and when needed, mid-air or on the ground.  

Multi-partitioned luggage is great to segregate and keep track of what goes where, so you can reach the most important items like charging cables, devices like a Kindle or tablet, glasses, eye masks, earplugs, your neck pillow, and medicines. For bags without built-in sections, put all these bits and bobs in a separate pouch for easy access.

3. Saved From Lugging 

Compact and lightweight equal less effort. A bag or suitcase with wheels is your best bet for convenience. No heavy lifting necessary, and it fits more than other types of carry-ons. No need to hunt down or pay for luggage carts either.

The trick to carrying light is to pack right. Use packing cubes and bags to compartmentalize, and roll up clothing to minimize the amount of space occupied. Be smart about layering the least to most-needed items from bottom to top. Leave electronics and metal objects for the very last, since you’ll have to pull them out at the security check.

4. Worry-Free Way

You’ve surely had nightmares of being stranded without your checked baggage in a foreign land after hearing of someone’s dreadful experience. If you only bring carryon bags, you will not need to worry about this scenario. No one touches your belongings except you, so there’s less chance of loss or damage as long as you’re responsible.

Don’t be negligent about locking your luggage with a suitcase lock, or at least a zip tie. For added safety, slap on a luggage tag or unique identifier like you would for checked pieces. If you want to keep paranoia at bay, hook on a smart tracker like Tile, Chipolo, or AirTag. 

The Cons

1. Size Constraints

As much as light baggage is nice, it means less space. The typical allowance of a carryon of 55x35x20 cm will force you to be frugal with packing. It can be tough to squeeze in all of your essentials for any trip that is longer than a couple of days. Forget about taking gifts or bringing back souvenirs, as the bag is going to be bursting at the seams as is, and paying excess fees is not worth it.

Weight limit is the other consideration, since the spectrum can range from seven kilograms to unrestricted. Don’t get blinded by the cheapest ticket. Check the airline’s carryon policies before booking. Wear your heaviest clothing and accessories to shave off the grams. Only carrying two pairs of footwear and packing multifunctional pieces will also do the trick.

2. Take Everything Everywhere

From the time you leave your home, until the time you arrive at your destination, your bag can’t leave your sight. You won’t be as free to explore the duty-frees or food court at the airport. Two hands might not be enough to fish out your mobile, wallet, or passport/boarding pass while walking around and handling the carryon plus a smaller bag. 

If you’re a solo traveler, the pain is multiplied. Imagine picking up and dropping your duffel bag every two steps while you’re in line to get a coffee, or worse, having to traipse into a dirty restroom with it.

3. Curbs on Items

You must follow the golden 3-1-1 rule of permitted liquids: 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less, in a 1-quart (950ml) transparent pouch or zip-lock bag, and only one bag per passenger. Double-check the quantities of all that goes in. Things like creams, gels, and pastes can deceptively be measured in grams on the packaging, but are considered liquids. The same goes for sauces, creamy dips, and most foodstuff that are semisolid.

The controls further extend to a list of items that might be in your personal care kit, but are branded as dangerous for security purposes. These include, but aren’t limited to, nail files, scissors, and razors. Some medication can raise red flags as well. If you’re unsure of what’s restricted and can’t find guidelines to confirm or deny your doubts, ask the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Twitter or Facebook via @AskTSA.

4. Convenience Not Guaranteed

Stowing away carryon baggage is more a combination of strategy and luck than you would think. Your boarding time, flight capacity, and seat number all add up. They’ll determine whether you get the overhead bin spot, leave your bag in the hands of the attendant to shove wherever, or have to cram it between your legs for the whole duration. 

A full flight can also mean having to check the bag regardless. If that’s the case, saving time and avoiding crowds become moot points, and you’ll be mourning your favorite perfume and the giant sun hat that had to be left behind.

We’ve given you the good and the bad of carry-ons; now it’s your choice to make. If you can pack light and don’t mind carrying all you need through the airport, a carryon may be the way to go. However, if you’ve got a lot to take (or bring back), simply checking your bag can simplify packing a lot. If you’re worried about the possibility of lost luggage, travel insurance is something you should not leave home without. While it can’t replace a lost bag, it can provide you with financial compensation should your bag go missing.

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