Traveling with just a carry-on can be scary and difficult. While only have one bag and (maybe) a personal item can be restrictive, many travels have more freedom without checked luggage. Checked bags will not only cost you more money, you risk the chance of the airline losing your bag, and you have to wait longer to get your luggage after the flight. In this Carry-On Challenge blog, I offer airline tips for traveling with only a carry-on.


Carry-On Restrictions and Size

All airlines differ on the size allowance for a carry-on. For most carriers, a carry-on is a small backpack or suitcase that is supposed to fit in the overhead compartment. Most airlines also allow you to bring one personal item for free, which fits under the seat in front of you or on your lap. Depending on the airline, you may also encounter a small fee for a carry-on, but those carriers often allow you to bring a backpack as a personal item. Unfortunately, all airlines have different policies so be sure to read the carry-on size chart for your flight. Many airlines also have a weight limit for carry-on. One helpful tip I use is if I can have both a personal item and a carry-on, I try to either wear or pack heavier things in my personal item because those are often not weighted.


Choose Your Airline Accordingly

Before you purchase a plane ticket, be sure to do some research on what airlines charge for a carry-on. While one ticket may appear cheaper initially, that carrier may have higher fees for a carry-on. Additionally, other airlines already factor those costs into the ticket price. If you know you are going to max the carry-on limit and may be at risk for additional charges, be sure to also research which airlines are stricter with their policies. The last thing you want is to be boarding the plane and be charged a high rate because you don’t meet their restrictions.


On the Plane

Before you get on the plane, be sure to rearrange your bag and put the things you need during the flight on top. If your carry-on is at the higher end of the restriction, it’s also helpful to board the plane early. While it may not always be possible, boarding early will almost guarantee that there is room for your bag.  

By just packing a carry-on, you save time, hassle and money. It may be a challenge, but with a little discipline, you can travel with ease. Be sure to check back soon for my next Carry-On Challenge where I will offer packing technique tips that will help save you space!


Paul Deloughery is an law insurance dispute consultant and avid traveler. Check out his latest Travel blog or visit his Twitter!