We all have seen in the past couple years how the airline industry has changed the “rules of the game” and has challenged us to become “light” travelers.

But, what is being a “light” traveler?

It’s the kind of traveler that reduces his/her luggage to a simple carry-on luggage that can be placed on the overhead compartment of the plane or under the seat in front.

The Benefits of Being a Carry-on Traveler 1

Although there is no standard dimension to define a carry-on luggage, since each airline operates different airplanes with different restrictions, the average carry-on size limits can be measured as:

22in (55cm) x 14in (35cm) x 9in (23cm)… with a maximum weight of 40lbs (18kg), though, some airlines limit carry on luggage to about 15lbs (7kg)

So, what are the benefits of carrying less with you?

1.  Save on fees

Most airlines charge fees for checked-in luggage. The average fee for the first checked-in bag is $35. Um, those $35 dollars look better in your pocket or spent on something nice at your destinations, not fees.

Let’s just hope most airlines don’t follow Spirit Airlines ridiculous carry-on fee idea. They charge up to a whopping $45 dollars for one carry-on!

2.  Have instant access to your stuff

Many times, especially during long-haul flights, you might find yourself looking for something that might be in your luggage (i.e. book, iPad, toiletries, anything). 

A carry-on gives you the flexibility of having everything with you, and within easy access. This is also great when you have long layovers at the airport and are bored to death.

3.  No lost luggage

You may find it surprising how many times airlines lose luggage these days. There is an average of 6 to 8 reported lost luggages for every 1000 passengers.

4.  No fear of losing your valuables

It’s also surprising the amount of reports for lost valuables. Last year T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) received 11,700 claims of missing or damaged belongings.

5.  No wasting time waiting for your luggage

After a long flight, who would want to spend an extra half hour waiting for each luggage to arrive? With a carry-on, you just pick it out of the overhead compartment and you’re on your way.

6.  Easier international connections

Most international connections will require you to pick up your checked-in luggage on baggage claim after the first flight and re-check it on your new flight. 

If you have a tight layover or if your first flight delays, you might not have time to re-check your luggage. A carry-on makes international connections much easier and faster.

7.  Agility and flexibility

Isn’t it nice to walk around freely without feeling like you’re dragging so much dead load? A light carry-on luggage –whether it’s a backpack, a side bag, or a small luggage with wheels– will allow you to wander around at a quicker and effortless pace. 

After walking a long distance, or even after a few minutes of walking, you will be grateful that you’re carrying a light bag.

As you can see, a good travel motto can be “less is more.” Carrying less baggage with you will give you so much flexibility that can be translated in more time and money, and less stress and limitations for your trip. Plus, packing light is a challenge we all love as backpackers.

What’s your take on traveling with just a carry-on?

Adventure Awaits


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  1. I’m with you on this one. I recently bought a couple of Tom Bihn bags so I could be a carry-on traveler. I’ve already traveled to San Francisco with this set-up and found it highly enjoyable. Can’t wait to take it with me to Argentina!

    1. @Keith – I haven’t tried the Tom Bihn’s bags, but I’ve heard they’re really good and easy to carry. do you recommend one Tom Bihn bag in specific?

      @Nick – I haven’t checked a bag in the last 3 years. I just avoid it. Oh, I know how much it sucks when a bottle of Rum (or whatever liquid) opens and spills all over your clothes. It happened to me once.

  2. I try to never check any baggage, not just because of cost just one less thing to worry about.

    The last time I checked a bag, a bottle of Rum I brought back from Honduras broke. That was my fault though, I forgot I had it in there and had to check it at the last minute.

  3. Norbert, I use the Smart Alec with MacBook Pro Brain Cell for a small backpack and the Aeronaut for my main bag. Check them out!

  4. I never, ever check bags anymore and love it! I originally stopped cause I got tired of lugging around a bag full of stuff I barely used, and now that the airlines charge for checking bags, I doubt I’ll ever go back. I have a school backpack that I use for all my trips – not pretty, actually fairly ugly, but the perfect size.

  5. Hey Norbert,

    I couldn’t agree more. After traveling as much as I have. I will not give up my carry-on until pried from my cold dead hands. Actually, I suggest boycotting Spirit Air’s new charge to carry your own bags policy, but that’s just me.

    1. Ashley, I realized that too. I used to pack stuff that I never used. But with practice you learn to measure more accurately what you really need. But just having a carry-on or a backpack will force you to be creative with space and pack only the necessary. Now I’m a happy backpacker.

      Devin – Well, I’m boycotting them being one less customer. I think it’s ridiculous what they are doing. I’m no analytics professional, of course, but in my opinion that move will backfire on them (that is if the other airlines don’t join them).

  6. I think I have had to check luggage twice in the last 10 years and that was only for very long trips. If I don’t have to check luggage then I don’t. I don’t like to pay for luggage checking either. I wonder if it is cheaper to ship the stuff that doesn’t fit into my rolling duffle bags.

  7. @mike “I think I have had to check luggage twice in the last 10 years and that was only for very long trips. If I don’t have to check luggage then I don’t. I don’t like to pay for luggage checking either. I wonder if it is cheaper to ship the stuff that doesn’t fit into my rolling duffle bags.” i have a similar experience, the carry on luggage rules may have changed but the fact reamins that you should keep all valueables in your carry on,the idea is simple yet effective,for your safety