I'll admit that I am not the lightest packer. In fact, I am quite a heavy packer. Most of my trips revolve around work, so I end up carrying quite a bit of gear with me including a 48 pound toolkit and two laptops. Between my checked and carry-on bags, I carry over 100 lbs of equipment with me on an average trip. I know that this isn't traveling lightly, but it is a style of travel to which I have become accustomed to. A recent familial obligation necessitated my traveling to Southern California on short notice, and it changed the way I'll look at traveling and packing forever.
My trip required me to be in town for two nights, and I couldn't risk having my bags delayed so this left me with only one option: carry-on only travel . It required me to pack by a new set of rules, which have opened up a whole new world of travel possibilities.
The most obvious changes were that I wouldn't be able to bring a pocket knife with me and that I'd have to be careful to follow all of the TSA rules for carry-on travel. Additionally, I needed to remember that I'd be carrying everything, so weight was also a concern.
Once I started to think about traveling solely with carry-ons, I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies:
"Take only what you need to survive" -Lone Star to Princess Vespa, Space Balls
I'd heard this phrase repeated many times over the years, but never before had I encountered the perfect context for it.
With the sagely wisdom of Lone Star ringing true in my mind, I set about deciding what would stay and what would go. Since I only needed a couple changes of clothes and an extra pair of shoes, I decided to go with a roll-a-board case that would hold my clothes and my day pack, which held my water bottle, food and my toiletries. I'll admit that I didn't do a full purge of my backpack as I should have, but time was short so I ended up lugging around a lot of gadgets that I didn't need to take with me.
In addition to the above items, I also packed a 2 pound round of cheese for my father (he really likes sharp cheddar). The cheese went into a soft sided cooler which fit nicely in my day pack. When checking into my flight I weighed in to find that I was lugging about 35 pounds of gear with me.
While sitting in the boarding area, I started to take a close look at everything that I ended up carrying with me, and I realized that there was quite a bit of redundancy. Did I really need a water bottle and a travel mug? Did I need to carry fresh fruit when dry is available? Isn't carrying 4 magazines a little excessive? Would a lighter/smaller book reduce my reading enjoyment? Do I need a comb and a brush?
Even though I had cut down the weight of my gear considerably, there was certainly more that I could have done. Realizing this, I was thrilled with the possibility of making carry-on travel a regular part of my life. In a moment of clarity, taking advantage of last minute travel deals and
spontaneous travel changes suddenly became a reality. It was as if I could finally see for myself what others had been telling me for years about what travel could be.
As it turns out, there's a great website for traveling without checked bags called OneBag. I really wish I would have found this resource before my trip to Southern California, but I've been enjoying it in preparation for my next carry-on only trip.
My first carry-on only trip went fairly smoothly, and I didn't miss any part of checking my bags (ie: having to wait at the baggage carousel, watching my bags get loaded on the plane and wondering if my bags would arrive with me) . While I wasn't able to take my pocket knife with me, that was a minor inconvenience when compared to the gained flexibility and peace of mind knowing that my bags would not be lost. I look forward to my next carry-on only trip because I've learned a lot since then, and I can't wait to really apply myself to this style of travel.
Do you regularly travel with only carry-ons? Do you recall your first carry-on only trip? Please respond in the comments section below.
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