Laura Yuen: How to travel with just hand luggage – and some tips if you can’t
If you love something, set it free – by packing it in your checked bag.
Meaning: You may never see him again.
Flying with checked baggage is a gamble this summer, especially if you’re traveling overseas. Staffing shortages at airports during a summer of pent-up travel demand have not only delayed and canceled flights, but are conspiring to thwart planned suitcase trips containing all of our favorite things.
“I would say to travelers flying in or transiting through major airports like London Heathrow, Amsterdam and Paris that you might as well flip a coin to find out if your bag is going to get where you’re going,” Kyle Potter said. , editor of Minneapolis-based Thrifty Traveler.
Social media is full of horror stories of bags that have gone missing forever, been sent to faraway places, or found their owners weeks after returning from vacation. In May, nearly six out of 1,000 checked bags were “mishandled” — lost, damaged, delayed or stolen — according to the most recent federal data available.
While that doesn’t sound terrible, it “doesn’t reflect the true start of the summer travel season,” Potter said, “nor does it reflect how well things have gone in Europe.”
Earlier this month, Delta sent a plane from London to Detroit with zero passengers – but around 1,000 lost bags, which were then dispatched to where they needed to go.
The advice travel experts continue to give this summer is to pack only what you need in a carry-on. If you can achieve this, you are a deity in my book. Aside from my 20s when I was backpacking through Asia and washing my socks in hostel sinks, I tend to prepare for all possibilities when packing my suitcase. It’s even worse now that I have kids because I fear moral judgment if I haven’t planned for the unlikely.
I asked Potter and other carry-on crusaders for their advice on minimalist packing. Here is what they said:
Carry larger items on the plane
Space-saving sandals go in the bag, bulky sports shoes on the feet. Also wear thicker clothes like jackets, sweaters, hoodies or jeans during the flight. When packing, opt for quick-drying clothes from outdoor stores like REI that can be crushed in your carry-on.
Roll your clothes
My friend swears by rolling her clothes, military style, like little Twinkies. You can also buy TSA-friendly compression packing cubes that can help you fit more clothes in your bag, or at least help you stay organized.
Ruthlessly rate your outfits
Another friend says she questions every piece of clothing. Can it be worn multiple times, multiple ways? Elements that cannot be “team players” stay at home.
Potter, who admits he’s a “pretty simple dresser” by nature, chooses versatile clothes: basic t-shirts and quasi-sporty clothes that work just as well on the hike as they do in the pub. “People have this urge to contribute as much as they can,” he said. He encouraged me to think back to the last time I checked my bag “and take a mental inventory of everything you packed and never carried.” uh.
No better gift than cash
I have childhood memories of my mother packing her suitcase with containers of Pond’s cold cream to give as gifts to relatives while traveling abroad. Sorry, aunt – this time you get money.
When Gatachew Teklu, owner of Admas Travel, returns to Ethiopia to see his family, “I just give them money instead of buying all this stuff from TJ Maxx and Marshalls,” he said.
Get the most out of your personal item
Don’t waste the space under the seat in front of you with a small purse. A medium-sized bag or backpack with multiple compartments can hold electronics and headphones, a fresh set of clothes, and airport essentials. Just measure the dimensions and check airline restrictions to make sure you can fit it under the seat.
You can still do the laundry
No matter how long your trip, only pack a week’s worth of clothes. When selecting your accommodation, consider an Airbnb that has an on-site washer and dryer or a hotel that offers laundry and folding service, Potter advises.
Traveling with children
When Oakdale’s Allie Hawley March travels, each child gets their own backpack. E-books are essential. If your child is old enough to use a booster seat for the car, consider inflatables like the BubbleBum to save space. On her last family trip, Hawley March said: ‘The booster seat literally fit in my carry-on, along with all my clothes, and was in my bag under the seat in front of me. No luggage rack or checked bag. It was amazing.”
How is it to win the bonus round?
“I don’t want to try to jam the kids AND a rolling suitcase,” said Hawley March, who hasn’t checked in for a bag in 20 years. “I want both hands free so I can hold small people – hence a backpack. And then if the kids all have backpacks, they may be responsible for their own gear.
If you need to check a bag…
Be sure to pack the essentials in your carry-on: medication, toiletries (travel size, of course!), clothing and shoes, valuables, contact lenses, and any outfits you plan to wear on occasions specials such as weddings.
Apple AirTags or similar wireless tracking devices “are pretty close to an absolute must-have right now,” Potter said. This won’t prevent your bag from getting lost, but it can help you get it back faster since you can pinpoint its location. I found them on Amazon for $27.50 each, or $89 for a set of four.
Buy your plane ticket with a credit card that includes baggage protection, which can reimburse you for the cost of a change of clothes and toiletries during your trip if your baggage has been significantly delayed or lost. Although airlines may be responsible for some of these costs, sorting it out can take time, Potter said. Be sure to obtain documentation from the airline regarding your lost baggage and keep receipts for your purchases.
Another option is to purchase standalone travel insurance. But be sure to read the fine print and make sure your policy includes baggage coverage.
Already converted? Potter said most travelers have their routines and don’t want to be told there might be another way. But he’s convinced that in this unpredictable and potentially stressful travel season, some of us could open our minds – and our carry-ons – to the beauty of traveling light.
“The only thing worse than going somewhere for two weeks and not having all the clothes you want,” he said, “is going somewhere for two weeks and not having clothes, period.”
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