Once You Go One-Pack, You Never Go Back
One-bag travel is easily the most convenient luggage option for your trip. Whether you’re planning a week-long vacation or a trip to see the world without a return ticket, one-bag travel can work for you. To be a one-bag traveler means that you pack a single bag to be carried onto the aircraft with you rather than checking your luggage. Some travelers also refer to this style of travel as carry-on only. You can use a carry-on approved suitcase. However, we prefer backpacks to avoid fighting for overhead bin space and the possibility of being forced to check our bags at the last minute.
Mistakes Were Made
On our first trip abroad, we each packed a suitcase to be checked and a carry-on backpack. Surprise… lugging around big roller bags was inconvenient! Not to mention, we quickly learned that we just didn’t need all of that extra stuff. At the end of our vacation, there were clothes that went unworn and items that were never touched. When we initially packed for that trip, we were so confident that everything in our bags was necessary. How could all of these “essential” items have gone unused? There had to be a better way.
Have An Open-Mind
When we first stumbled across the idea of one-bag travel with a backpack, we dismissed it. After hearing it mentioned in multiple places and seeing that other people are making it work, we thought maybe this idea is at least worth some consideration. As it turns out, it’s not difficult to do and there are many benefits. We cover how to select the right size bag and how to switch to one-bag travel in another post. For now, let’s focus on why you should consider making the switch.
1. Control Over Your Belongings
If you only have one bag, the chance of that bag getting lost, stolen, or damaged is greatly reduced. We’ve all seen the videos of baggage handlers at airports, in the US especially, mishandling our precious luggage. Keeping your bag with you means that you’ll never have to worry about that again.
2. No More Checked Baggage Fees
This one is simple. No more checked bags, no more checked bag fees. You do still need to watch out for sneaky airlines (we’re calling you out Spirit, Wow, and Allegiant) that are now starting to charge for carry-on bags too. Regardless, the cost of carry-on is still less than checking your bags.
3. Waste Less Time At The Airport
Waiting in long lines at an amusement park may be more palatable because there’s a fun and exciting ride at the end of the line. Waiting in large lines to check bags at an airport is just a complete waste of time. Cut that part of the journey out, use a kiosk instead, and quickly scurry along to the fun line for security! Hey, at least you’ll be ahead of all those other people who had to check their bags.
4. Remove The Target From Your Back
Tourists are prime targets for scammers, pickpockets, and thieves. The more luggage you have, the easier it is for someone to nab one of those bags. This can happen any time you’re not 100% focused on your luggage, which most people aren’t when they first arrive in a new city. Think baggage claim, in the taxi queue, while you’re sorting out a rental car, or exchanging money.
5. Fit In With The Locals
For some, avoiding the tourist-look isn’t just about safety. We prefer to blend in as much as possible. We don’t want strangers constantly in our face trying to sell us something. If you prefer to find your own way and don’t want to be hassled, one-bag travel can help with that. Nothing is a bigger dead giveaway to your tourist status than a bunch of luggage.
People often choose to adopt a minimalist lifestyle in order to simplify their life. More people are catching on to the fact that consumer goods can cause unnecessary stress in your life. Removing extra clothing and shoes from your bag and only keeping items that you love means you can get ready quickly and enjoy your time traveling, rather than spending extra time in a mirror.
Convenience is probably reason enough to make the switch to one-bag travel. Traveling abroad almost always involves a lot of walking. Big suitcases are notoriously bad for two reasons: staircases and cobble-stone streets. It’s not just about suitcase wheels either, it’s also about the weight of your luggage. We did not enjoy carrying our heavy suitcases up and down the narrow staircases of our AirBnb in Iceland. As well, so many of the most beautiful cities in the world are built on hills. Make your life easier by packing less.
Following our trip to Iceland, we knew we had to pack smarter. While planning for our next trip, we decided to make the switch to one-bag travel. Hearing about this style of travel and seeing others pulling it off made us aware, but there was a specific moment when it just clicked for us that this was the right call.
We were ironing out some details for our next trip and we realized that on one day, we would need to return a rental car by 5pm and then catch a ferry at 1:30am. This raised the question of what the hell do we do with our luggage during that time. There were no public lockers and we would have already checked out of our AirBnb in that city. We thought maybe we could kill some time at a bar, but that would be odd with suitcases. We also imagined ourselves walking through the town in the middle of the night with all of our luggage. It wasn’t going to work that way, at least not for us.
One backpack just made sense. It continues to make sense as we continue to plan our travels. The flexibility and convenience of only traveling with one bag is worth the adjustment to a more minimalist approach to travel.