With excess baggage fees spiraling out of control, learning how to pack light is becoming a serious survival skill for perpetual road warriors. Here are several one-bag travel tips to help you keep costs under control. Use them for short excursions, international vacations, train travel and road trips when you want to reduce luggage weight and logistical stress.
Equipment choice will play a large role in how successful you are with one-bag travel.
Luggage with expandable compartments or removable inserts like the Tenba laptop messenger bag for media professionals or rolling backpacks for adventure travelers will serve you well. Choose gear thatís functional and available in the smallest size possible. Universal earphones with retractable cords, tablet devices like the Kindle Fire instead of bulkier reading material and toiletry bags designed more for the gym than packing the kitchen sink are all great places to start.
Wear what you can.
Travel jackets with hidden storage pockets large enough to store a small laptop and cargo pants are a huge help. They allow you to physically wear a fair number of items and tech gadgets that would otherwise need to take up space in your daypack. When it comes time to navigate security, simply remove the jacket and place it one of the security bins like you would any other bag. Bulkier clothing and footwear are also best to wear on travel days requiring a plane ride. Save your flat-packing flip flops and thinner layering tees for your carry-on bag. Remember, it doesnít cost more to wear extra clothing, but it does to check luggage. Pack accordingly.
Road warrior wardrobe choices will serve you well.
Thin, light quick-dry clothing suitable for layering works well on the road. Not that I donít appreciate a good pair of dressy jeans when Iím traveling for a longer period of time, but leggings, sarongs, thinner tee shirts and wrap dresses will provide wardrobe flexibility while still allowing you to pinch pennies on luggage fees. Pack the thinner lightweight items and use Space Bags to save even more room.
Toiletry choices can either cost you or save you money.
Trying to squeeze on that giant bottle of perfume or specialty lotion will likely get you flagged for luggage check and result in having to watch a smug security guard toss it into the confiscated items bin. Invest in a practical kit of smaller containers that are airline approved and can fit into the one-quart bags required for TSA screenings. These containers can easily be refilled from the bulk sizes you purchase for home, saving you the cost of paying more for travel sizes of your favorite products. I like the kits that have labels included so you can easily identify sunscreen from conditioner and other frequently-mistaken personal care products.
When possible, choose solid shampoo and conditioning bars instead of the liquid versions. This will allow you more room for other products such as nail polish and skin toner. Certain cosmetics can perform multiple duties. For example, I like to use lip liner for its original purpose, as well as for lip color and an impromptu rub-on blush.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably admit that traveling with one bag has gotten more difficult since Iíve become a full-blown media professional, although I can still manage to pull it off for an overnight if minimal wardrobe changes are required. That being said, those who simply need to check in occasionally for email can easily accomplish one-bag travel. And save a ton of cash as a result!
Photo Credit: Cea