Newswire Travel & Leisure

How to Only Pack a Carry-On for International Travel

In May of 2022, I eagerly landed in Milan as post-COVID travel was making a comeback, and The Destination Designer team was embarking on our first destination scouting trip of the season. As I waited at the baggage carousel, I soon realized that my luggage had not made the trip as easily as I did. The ordeal resulted in a five-day headache that left me without clothing or personal items. Worse, I spent countless frustrating hours on hold with airline customer service, taking away valuable travel time.

Many are excited to explore new destinations, and with the travel season upon us once again, it is essential to consider packing wisely. While checked bags may seem more convenient for those who need to bring more than just the essentials, statistics show that lost or delayed baggage is becoming an all-too-common issue. Lost or delayed luggage is especially problematic for international travel requiring connecting flights. We all remember photos of the sea of undelivered luggage at some of Europe’s busiest airports last summer. To avoid the hassle of lost luggage, limiting yourself to a carry-on bag this travel season may be the best decision you have ever made. Keeping your bags with you ensures a worry-free vacation, allowing you to focus on creating new memories with family and friends.

According to a report from SITA, an aviation technology company, there were approximately 21.6 million mishandled bags worldwide in 2022. Meaning that for every 1,000 passengers, around six people had to deal with lost or delayed luggage. Six people may seem like a small number, but when you consider that these statistics only include reported numbers from major airlines, the issue of lost baggage is significant.

There are many reasons why lost baggage occurs, but the most common include baggage transfer errors, mishandling during loading and unloading, and issues with baggage tags. The more intentional reason is theft, a problem despite using TSA-approved locks and other securing devices. Whichever the reason for lost or delayed luggage, this disruption causes significant stress for travelers left without their belongings, especially in a foreign country where they may not be familiar with the language or customs. In some cases, lost luggage can even cause a traveler to miss a connecting flight or important event, leading to further complications and expenses.

As I finalize my custom travel clients’ itineraries, I recommend that traveling with only a carry-on bag can help mitigate these risks this season. Additionally, you will save time upon arrival and make travel between destinations much easier, especially if your trip includes train travel.

There is a silver lining to traveling with only a carry-on bag. It will help simplify your travel experience. Have you ever returned home from a trip and thought to yourself, I did not even use a third of what I packed? I have been there. Forget lugging around a heavy suitcase or navigating crowded airports with a bulky bag. Instead, you can move more freely and quickly, which can be especially beneficial for international travel, where you may need to navigate unfamiliar airports and transportation hubs.

Of course, there are some limitations. Be mindful of the size and weight restrictions set by your airline and any restrictions on liquids or other prohibited items. Be especially careful when booking budget air carriers for short hops within Europe. Most allow for smaller-sized carry-ons than US-based carriers, and these size restrictions are commonly enforced. You will need to be strategic in packing your bag to ensure that you meet the requirements and pack all the essentials required for your trip. Below are some of my favorite strategies to help when I travel with carry-on luggage only:

  1. Organize your suitcase with compression packing cubes to maximize luggage space and compartmentalize items.
  2. Use an expandable, zippered tote as your personal item. Most airlines allow a carry-on size suitcase and one personal item. Maximize your luggage with a large tote that has extra zippered space to expand the bag, which is great for any items you may purchase during your travels.
  3. Stick to one color palette when coordinating your vacation wardrobe. This will allow you to easily mix and match your outfits without overpacking items you may not even wear.
  4. Familiarize yourself with amenities and services available at your destination; are laundry facilities available, or does your hotel provide laundry service? Knowing this information before travel can be particularly helpful for longer or more active vacations.

With a bit of planning and forethought, traveling with only a carry-on bag is a great way to simplify your experience, and it may become your new favorite way to travel.

As a comprehensive custom travel planning team, The Destination Designer can offer a multitude of travel hacks to make your life easier while you are on the go. To create a memorable trip tailored to you without hassle, contact The Destination Designer, and let us take it from there.

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The Destination Designer – Custom Travel Planning