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Day 170: Why I Will Strive to Go Carry-On Every Trip, Every Time

Day 170:  Our missing piece of luggage, found the next day.

Day 170: Our missing piece of luggage, found the next day.

Some trips it is just not possible to carry it all in carry-on sized baggage. It depends on the weather, the airline’s carry-on baggage restrictions, your need to take certain stuff (maybe you have some books and gifts to bring along) that you normally wouldn’t. In our case, Pat and I decided to do a year’s worth of clothes shopping in America — something we aren’t usually accustomed to doing.

Still, after our big trip to the USA, I will be converting back to my old ways of less is more in terms of a backpack in hopes of being carry-on friendly as much as possible. Why? Here’s why:

Your checked luggage could get lost or delayed.
Yes, even after the tumultuously long journey from Las Vegas to Sydney, on arrival we found ourselves waiting at the luggage carousel for one of our checked bags. It went around and around until finally no new bags were dropped; we were missing a bag. To our surprise, there was already a long line at the baggage service center of people from the same flight that were also missing some luggage. It turns out that our suitcase was on the next flight out, but it also meant that we had to wait another day for it to arrive.

You could be without important items for longer-than-expected periods of time.
As we stood in line at the baggage service center, I kept thinking about the stuff inside that bag like the new clothes I bought in the States and my $1200 TMJ appliances that I wear at night to keep my jaw aligned and my head from hurting. I cursed myself repeatedly for not chucking the latter into my carry-on like I so diligently used to. For those, it’s not the money that’s the issue; it’s the fact that I can’t find a TMJ specialist in Australia, let alone a dentist that can process the same types of appliances. Plus, I had already been without them for 2 days, and a third day was just going to add to the amount of discomfort I was bound to feel.

Your checked luggage is open to TSA search at any cost.
The suitcase that did arrive in Sydney with us was another special indication of why I need to go carry-on. Even though I’m sure the lock on that suitcase was TSA approved, they proceeded to break the zippers to get the lock off. In other words, the suitcase was damaged just so TSA could get a closer look at what was inside.

Checking luggage can cost you money.
This trip did not involve any extra baggage fees, but there are several airlines around the world that require a fee in order to check a bag. In that case, it is easy to see why going carry-on only would be a wiser, more budget-friendly option.

There’s ease of mind knowing that everything you brought with you is with you at all times. Sure, it may not be easy to whittle down your list into a carry-on size, but it can be done. I’ll hopefully make it happen from this point forward on every trip I take.


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13 Responses to Day 170: Why I Will Strive to Go Carry-On Every Trip, Every Time

  1. David June 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi Brooke,

    We recently went carry-on only for a trip through South-East Asia, and I’d be really reluctant to check-in luggage again. We are a family of four, with 1 child aged 4, the other aged 2 – if we can do it, anyone can!

    • Brooke July 2, 2011 at 12:08 am #

      Congrats! I’m a firm believer in packing less, normally, so I just need to get back in the habit 🙂

  2. Sarah June 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Sweet list!

    And, if you don’t have a lot of room in a bag…you have no choice but to pack light.

    I know that has been said over and over on just about every travel blog BUT I’m pretty much a broken record…..with an abnormally light carry-on bag.

    • Brooke July 2, 2011 at 12:07 am #

      I know, I love the small bag no choice thing 🙂 People usually think I’m a pack nazi hehe…. “Is that all you brought?” YUP! Alas, this trip was different… we had gifts for people and then went shopping to bring back cheap stuff to Oz.

  3. Tony June 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    A couple of years ago, I flew to Melbourne with carry on but when I came back, it was deemed too heavy so I had to check it. Of course it got lost and had to be delivered to me the next day by courier. The doorbell rang, the guy said sign here, passed me the bag then shot off down the stairs. When I went to put the bag down, I noticed one side looked normal but the other had been smashed in. The courier was uber careful to pass it back without me noticing it’s mishandling by whoever destroyed my bag. Cheers Qantas.

    • Brooke July 2, 2011 at 12:05 am #

      Ugh, that sucks! I sometimes watch baggage handlers tossing bags around and while I understand they are probably tired from doing that all day, it’s still someone’s stuff. boo

  4. Daniel June 30, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I really want to do this on my next trip. Even though I will be carrying few clothes, I am going to Paris + UK in November, so I will probably need some warm extras. Including my DSLR, I am not optimistic about success.

    I have already paid for the checked addon with Air Asia. The carry on weight limit is 7kg which I’m certain I cannot do, and I think the bag I want to use (24L) is just over the size limit.

    If I could carry my camera bag, and not pack it inside, then I might make it. But their rules don’t state one extra item such as laptop or handbag etc like many other airlines do. Unfamiliar airline, I don’t want to test the boundaries.

    • Brooke July 2, 2011 at 12:04 am #

      I think if you could carry your DSLR as your extra, it could work. Why not try calling the airline to see about their extra carry-on policy?

  5. Fred July 1, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Good to see someone else spreading the carry-on only gospel!

  6. Tijmen July 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    I’m definitely planning on going with just carry on luggage for my trip to Asia in a few weeks. So far I always end up carrying a way to big backpack that filled up with pointless crap in only a matter of weeks. A smaller backpack should solve that problem 🙂

  7. Shereen July 13, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    I say it over and over again on my blog, too. I think people just don’t KNOW how to travel light and are afraid to try it. My husband and I pack in one large carry-on that goes in the overhead and one small one that goes under the seat. That’s it. No matter where we go or for how long. As long as you are prepared to rewear in different combinations (if you even care that much) and do some laundry, it’s totally doable and super easy. I also don’t trust that my bags or everything in them will get to my destination with so many people handling them. And I like to just get off the plane and go!


  1. Weekly Travel Blog Links — LandingStanding - July 4, 2011

    […] pure “carry-on” travelers even though many of Meg’s friends think she is crazy. Brooke shows the world that having only a carry-on is really the smart way to travel […]

  2. Saving Money at the Airport | Brooke vs. the World - October 15, 2011

    […] Go carry on only and double check restrictions! You don’t want to pay to take luggage, do you? The best way to avoid this issue to just take carry on, and to also make sure your carry on options are checked and double checked. Paying to check a bag while already at the airport can be significantly more expensive – and of that I am not a fan! […]

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