May 152013


How much baggage do you need?

My 25 year-old niece visited us for a week this spring. She deplaned with her shoulder-strap purse and one small tote bag. That was it. No checked luggage.

Thirty years ago, I, too, often travelled with only a carry-on bag. But with each passing year, I seem to have accumulated more baggage. And there have been instances of frantic repacking and re-arranging at the airport to stay under the fifty pound per bag limit.

Sometimes there were extenuating circumstances. With each trip to the west coast to visit my daughter, I’ve slowly migrated her personal belongings. My husband and I have transported pickles, perogies and home-made preserves to relatives.

But that doesn’t fully explain it. For some reason, I seem to need more and more of my own stuff with me. I pack stuff just in case I may need it. Only to discover I don’t. I look around my house and realize it too contains more stuff than I need. There are things I don’t use but have hung onto just in case.

As I start to think about my next airplane trip, I wonder if I can manage with just carry-on baggage. There is something appealing and freeing about that prospect.

There is an art to carry-on travel. A carry-on that weighs so much you can hardly handle it is no advantage. Some planning is required to select dual-purpose, mix and match, wrinkle-free clothing. And a ruthless attitude to make do with less. Be prepared to wear the same clothing more than once. Only one or two pairs of shoes.

Travelling without checked baggage is easier in some circumstances than others. In my niece’s case, she was coming to the Phoenix Arizona area in March. No need for heavy sweaters. A petite thing, she’d packed mostly dresses that didn’t take much room. Her young feet could handle hours in flip-flops. No need for heavy sneakers or orthopedic shoes. In the days of yore, when I was a master of carry-on travel, there were no computers and other electronics travelling with me. And carry-on baggage size limits were a little larger than today.

I will strive to travel lighter, even in those situations where it is necessary to check a bag. But I think I may manage the next air travel trip with just carry-on. It remains to be seen, but I think I can do it.

He who would travel happily must travel light. ∼Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Simplicity is making the journey of this with just baggage enough. ∼Charles Dudley Warner

How much baggage do you need? Do you have any tips for travelling light?

  2 Responses to “To Travel Light”

  1. I have the opposite problem Donna. I’m determined to travel with the absolute minimum that I need. So I end up doing things like going someplace with a relatively warm climate but that goes down to 50 degress or less at night and I have only shorts and T-shirts. As far as my house having stuff that I don’t need? That’s a whole different story.

    • Ken, you’ve just pointed out the biggest challenge with travelling light – having what you need for various situations and weather. Like so much in life, it is a bit of a balancing act. I haven’t quite mastered it yet.

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