The Challenge of Packing Light
Ever since my trip to San Francisco/Santa Cruz last September, I’ve become a bit obsessed with traveling light. The first to-do in traveling light according to the experts is to find a bag that works for you and still qualifies as carry-on.
For most U.S. airlines (and don’t hold me to this), that generally means a bag that’s no bigger than 45 linear inches (22″ x 14″ x 9″) including wheels and handles and weighs less than 40 pounds. Some international carriers have stricter requirements.
Most of the light-travel experts seem to prefer non-wheeled convertible bags. Losing the wheels means the bag weighs less and you have more capacity for your goods. A convertible bag typically has backpack straps tucked away into a pocket, giving you the option to carry it with a handle, shoulder strap, or as a backpack.
Wheels or No Wheels
I initially purchased a wheeled carry-on bag from Eagle Creek’s Ease collection (discontinued). The bag is beautiful, but after a test run packing for a mock trip, I realized that I would drastically need to reduce what I would bring for it to fit in the bag. I didn’t think it would be feasible for me to do a ten day trip to Cyprus with just that bag. Someone else could probably do it, but not me…at least not yet.
For my Cyprus trip, I opted for the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible. The appeal to me was more capacity. In exchange, I had to give up wheels. I took the bag with me to Vegas as a test run and I really liked it. I should note that the bag fit a TON of stuff and it’s organized nicely. I particularly liked the handy zippered pouch at the top for my liquids bag – made it easier to get through security. The compression straps locked things down to manageable dimensions.
However, once I had loaded it to the gills for my trip to Cyprus and had to carry it on my back, along with my “personal item” bag (my loaded laptop bag), through four airports, it became very heavy and man, did I wish for some wheels. So, the search for the Perfect Bag continues. I’m looking at the Eagle Creek Morphus, but I’m not quite convinced I should shell out the money for it. I’ll have to work on bringing less on my next trip or getting some wheels if I plan to travel carry-on only again.
I also brought my WordPress Timbuk2 laptop bag for my laptop of course, my Kindle, camera and cables, iPod, earbuds, purse, and a pair of sneakers that wouldn’t fit in my other bag. I wore my hoodie and jacket on the plane, mostly because they wouldn’t have fit in either bag.
What I Packed
For those who are curious to know just how much I fit into my eBags Mother Lode bag, here’s a list of what I packed as far as I can recall:
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 2 pairs of capris
- 2 lightweight long sleeve shirts
- 4 short sleeve shirts
- 3 heavier long sleeve tops
- 2 sweaters
- 3 scarves
- 1 bathing suit and coverup
- 6 pairs of socks
- 3 tank tops and 3 camis
- 1 exercise outfit (top, bottoms, sport bra)
- bras and underwear
- 2 pairs of lounge pants (doubled as PJs and comfy pants to wear on long flights)
- 1 belt
- 1 pair of flip flops (sneakers went in my laptop bag and I wore boots on the plane)
- Travel power adapters
- In my 3-1-1 bag, I packed hair gel, liquid makeup, saline spray (sinus trouble here), face wash, toner, hairspray, and toothpaste
- Other toiletries exempt from the liquids requirement: contact lens solution, lens container, and spare lenses; hair brush and comb; meds (like whole pharmacy’s worth since I was recovering from a nasty cold); and non-liquid makeup items