Slobodanka Graham

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Want to know how to fly and travel with carry on only?

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You need to know the most valuable tips for carry on luggage

You need to know the most valuable tips for carry on luggage

Light luggage means easy travel

Since 2010, I've been flying and travelling with carry on luggage only. For novice travellers, this might seem strange: why don't I take up the airline's offer to carry 20+ kilograms in the hold on my behalf? It's simple: I don't want to burden myself with all that weight.

When I travel, I like to be footloose and fancy free. I like to make quick decisions and move fast. If I'm dragging a dead weight behind me, I can't travel easily. Worrying about all those bags makes me extremely tired!

I know there's an argument for filling your bag with holiday purchases. But honestly, in this digital age, when everything is available online, why do you need to shop on holiday? I don't know about you, but I'm reducing the amount of 'things' I have. I'd rather fill my head with holiday experiences than my wardrobes with clothes. 

The ultimate light travel

Travellers often ask me: 'How will you manage with washing?' 'What about toiletries?' I've honed my wardrobe to travel with the bare essentials - and still look attractive on a night out.

The starting point for travelling light is using the right bag. I've found the perfect carry on suitcase - the most important attribute being it's lightness. But there are other benefits of travelling with a small carry on bag. These are things that I've learnt along my journey.


My top 10 tips for carry on bags only

#1: Small bags are perfect carry on luggage

By travelling with a light bag, you don’t have to put your luggage into the airplane hold. This means you always have your bag with you: you have more flexibility and less likelihood of loss.

#2: Carry on bags fit into small hotel rooms

In some countries, hotel rooms and other places of accommodation may be small. The room may not have enough space to fit large suitcases as well as one or two people comfortably. Small suitcases, on the other hand, can fit inside or at the top of wardrobe nooks.

#3: Carry on bags fit in restricted packing space

 Disembarking at Ile des Pins with my carry on bag. I test drove the Pakt on this trip.

Disembarking at Ile des Pins with my carry on bag. I test drove the Pakt on this trip.

If you're taking a small group tour, the organisers may specify one small bag only per person. This could be because the bus or small plane may only have enough packing space for the tour's limited number of passengers. You don’t want to miss the bus!

#4: Carry on bags make train travel easy

Most trains have overhead luggage racks that are perfect for small bags. There's not much choice for large bags: no more luggage compartments. If you’re boarding in a hurry, it can be challenging to maneouvre a large bag through narrow train corridors, not to mention sitting uncomfortably with your large bag at your feet for a few hours.

#5: Carry on bags make good footrests

Put your feet up during long layovers or when waiting for flights, trains and any other transport. Flying from Australia to Europe, I've often stretched out at Dubai airport with my legs on my carry on case.

#6: Carry on bags are easy to carry

Small, light bags are easy to lift in and out of planes, trains, cars, buses and boats. They are light enough to pick up and run with if necessary. Small soft bags are easy to lift up stairs, over cobblestones, and carry over obstacles.

#7: Carry on bags mean a select wardrobe

 My curated travel wardrobe. My undies and t-shirts were in a drawer. I never felt deprived of anything to wear.

My curated travel wardrobe. My undies and t-shirts were in a drawer. I never felt deprived of anything to wear.

With considered planning and preparation, one small bag provides enough clothes and toiletries for a comfortable holiday, business or family trip. Never worry about what to wear: your curated wardrobe is pre-planned.

#8: Carry on bags mean airlines don’t ever lose your bag

Your bag is always with you. By not putting your bag in the airplane hold, you don’t risk the airline rerouting your bag. Avoid the unnecessary time and anxiety of getting your bag back. Losing my bags for six weeks was the catalyst for my travelling with carry on only.

#9: Carry on bags mean you are flexible

As your bag is always with you, it’s easy to change travel plans on a whim or through necessity. If you’ve checked in your luggage, it’s impossible to change your flight. But with carry on luggage only, you can choose another flight time, or even another destination.

#10: Carry on bags save you time at arrivals

Avoid the airport baggage carousels. No need to stand and wait anxiously as the carousel goes round and round, waiting for luggage that may never come. Walk through passport control and exit customs within minutes of landing. There’s no better feeling when you’ve arrived after a longhaul flight!


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About the author

 Lifting my light bag

Lifting my light bag

I'm Slobodanka Graham, content entrepreneur and extreme light traveller.

It took me about 30 years to learn how to be a light traveller. I hope with my tips and advice, you'll learn the ropes faster.

I'd like to know what are your top travel tips, particularly which bag you like to use. Send me an email or comment to this post.

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