When I fly now, I only bring an international carry-on and a personal back-pack. There are many reasons why but the main reason is that it saves me money and is a huge headache to carry a normal sized luggage! As a smaller guy I hate carry luggage up and down stairs or try to cram it in a tiny European elevator! I hate checking in luggage with the possibility of it getting lost. So a few years ago I turned to just traveling a carry-on bag.
Why an international carry-on?
For me it’s all about convenience. I’ve traveled with normal luggage for years and it got to a point where it was holding me back. Going up and down stairs in Europe with luggage is never fun. Dragging huge luggage through narrow streets is tough.
And so I wanted to see if I could downsize the amount of things I usually bring. I eventually was able to go for an entire 2 and half weeks with just a backpack and lovely organizers from Flight001. They organized my clothes, underwear, shoes, and bathroom products from clean and dirty and in their own compartment! I was in love.
And since then I’ve never looked back and I’m convinced that the only way to travel is with at most a international carry-on and a backpack (for souvenirs). You do not want to go around carry heavy luggage! It’s tiring, it gets old and it’s a mental strain to try to keep up with everything you brought. People usually overestimate the amount of stuff they need!
The benefits of a carry-on far outweigh the downsides of a normal sized luggage, like the following for example:
1. One thing that is noticeable is how light a international carry-on is compared to normal sized luggage. This is crucial when you’re going up and down stairs or traveling somewhere narrow. TRUST ME!
2. An international carry-on has the special ability to come on board with you, instead of underneath the plane. I’ve always liked this idea because I know my luggage won’t get lost or if it does it’s my fault. Plus you have the convenience of getting something from your bag if you need to.
3. Mentally there is a lot less to remember. With a lot less to remember, you’re able to focus on what is truly important, the trip itself. One of the most important lessons I learned when traveling is to leave most stuff behind at home where it belongs. Only bring essentially the bare minimum.
4. No waiting at baggage carousels. Enough said.
5. An international carry-on is less likely to break down as quickly as a normal piece of luggage.
6. Baggage fees! Checking in a bag has become a lucrative business for airlines and the fees are really high. For now carry-ons are mostly spared from airline fees although that may fade in the future. There are some airline who are charging for to even bring a carry-on, sigh.
7. Be able to move around much faster and more often. I’m heading to Europe in a month and will be moving to a new city every 2 -5 days. That’s a lot of traveling and carrying a normal size luggage would make it very difficult. Tight spaces on planes, trains, taxis and hotels. No thanks!
Ok, like anything there are some downsides to only having an carry-on:
1. Restricted to how much you can bring. This sounds bad but personally I feel this is a GOOD thing. Sometimes buying whatever you need at your final destination is better than bringing a lot with you.
2. Sometimes international carry-ons have to go underneath flights (on domestic tiny planes).
3. Room for souvenirs. I fix this problem buy either bringing a back pack or buying a bigger bag while on my travels and then bringing that on-board with me.
Which international carry-on to pick?
Luggage is expensive. Even international carry-on luggage is expensive. But my suggestion is to pick a brand that is reputable and has great reviews. Also test a luggage before you commit.
I have a T-Tech Tumi international carry-on and I love it. It’s the cheaper version of a Tumi bag but still looks stylish and gets great reviews.
However there were a lot of great international carry-on bags. While searching for bags I considered these companies. Always choose quality, even if it’s more expensive.
All have great bags and great reviews. The ones that are most famous are Briggs & Riley and Tumi. Flight001 has some stylish carry-on bags but not very many people have reviewed them. I recommend finding a bag that can roll on all fours! It’s not essential but definitely a great feature. However you may lose bag space if you go with this option.
Also find a packing system that works for you. A carry-on is so little, you need to use every last space with efficiency! You CAN bring 2 weeks of clothing for your vacation with just an international carry-on. Sounds difficult but it’s possible. Check out my Travel Light page and how to downsize your luggage to the max!
Go with a carry-on instead of a normal size luggage if you plan to be away for 2 weeks or less. It is possible to downsize your luggage and only bring the essentials. When you do cut half the stuff youbring, you feel more at ease, and have a better trip! Try it and look below at some other helpful travel tips!
images by: shawnvoyage