Updated: Feb 12
Air travel is stressful. While some stress may be unavoidable, like the long lines at security, other sources of stress, such as dealing with luggage check-in and baggage claim, can be minimized. If you think checking in luggage for your two-week vacation is inescapable, think again. Here are some ideas to help you get by with just a carry-on and by-pass the hassles (and fees) of checking your luggage.
There are several strategies that may help you survive your next getaway with only carry-on luggage.
Tip 1: Start with a Small Bag
People tend to fill up the space allowed them. The bigger your suitcase, the more you will put into it. So get started by selecting a bag that will meet the carry-on criteria.
Carry-on criteria depends on the airline you are traveling with. Below are the top domestic airlines with links to their carry-on requirements.
Tip 2: Use a Packing List
A packing list will keep you in check and help you avoid the struggle of packing clothes “just in case”. Once you have made your list, lay down all the items on a flat surface like your floor or bed and rethink everything you have selected so far. Ask yourself the question “why do I need this item?”. If any of the answers start with “what if..”or “it might be useful for..”, you might not really need to bring it with you. Of course this is easier said than done, but avoid adding unnecessary items to your pack.
Pro tip: After your trip, take an inventory of what you used and what you didn’t. Then create a packing list for future trips.
Tip 3: Choose Practical and Versatile Clothes
Remember the importance of “mix and matching”. Pack clothes that are versatile enough to wear for any occasion. Being able to mix and match pieces will help you to have a variety of outfits with fewer clothes. If you need to reuse individual articles, select fast-dry apparel.
Protip: When traveling in the winter months, look for merino wool clothes. They are compact, light, and very easy to layer. These clothes will keep you warm in cold weather and won’t smell, making them super practical when traveling. The brand we recommend the most is Smartwool: although pricier, it really lasts a lifetime if well taken care of.
Tip 4: Don’t Overpack Shoes
Shoes take up a lot of room, so travel with 2 pairs of shoes each, maximum 3. Most travel requires a lot of walking. Consider the needs of your destination and what activities you plan to do.
What works for us the best is to always bring a comfortable pair of sneakers (usually that’s the pair we will use on the flight), and sometimes a nice pair of shoes for special occasions.
For beach destinations we would opt to bring a pair of sneakers and flip flops. In this case, sandals could be a good third pair if necessary.
For winter destinations we would normally swap the sneakers for a pair of boots, and generally that would be enough.
Tip 5: Don’t Bring What You Can Buy
If you can buy items at your destination (e.g., shampoo and suntan lotion), then don’t take up valuable space with these items.
Finally, consider not just what you pack, but how you pack it. Use space efficiently by rolling your clothes and using your shoes’ foot space for packing smaller items.
Tip 6: Do Laundry at your Destination
If you are planning a longer trip, consider doing your laundry in a laundromat or select an airbnb rental that has laundry onsite. By doing this you’ll avoid having to pack too many clothes, and you don’t even need to worry about bringing your own detergent with you!
Our goal when planning longer trips is to pack enough for 7 days. We then schedule a morning or afternoon to do our laundry and reuse the same items again.
Pro tip: Find a local laundromat that offers wash and fold services. Leave your clothes with them while you are out sightseeing for the day. In some locales, this can be surprisingly cost effective and makes you feel truly pampered.
Looking for other ways to breeze through security lines, save time and frustration? Joining a program like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry will make the airport experience more efficient and stress-free.
Are you comfortable with your progress towards retirement? How about helping future generations meet their financial goals? If you have a net worth over $3 million and need help from a wealth manager, the Peak Wealth Planning team can assist you.
Peak Wealth Planning specializes in helping high-net worth individuals and families plan for the future.
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About the Author
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through company stock, ESOP shares, real estate, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning provides concierge services to meet your wealth management needs. Services include: financial planning, investment management, esop diversification, retirement income, insurance, and estate planning advice. Peak Wealth Planning is a fee-based financial advisor based in Champaign, Illinois, and Fraser, Colorado.