5 Reasons to Pack in a Carry On Bag

5 Reasons to Pack in a Carry On Bag

The last time I checked a bag was in 2016. It was for a week in Florida in the heat of June where we wore bathing suits over 80% of the time. Why did I need a full size suitcase for that? Over packing certainly can get the best of us but when you limit the packing space it can eliminate this problem.

Since then, I have traveled with my trusty EBags backpack and packing cubes (Amazon or Ebags) over 20 times with only a carry on bag through trips of various lengths and seasons.


Here are five reasons why you should pack in a carry on bag for your next trip.

One: Save time at the airport by skipping the check-in counter

  • Sometimes the line at the check-in counter is worse than the security line. Not checking a bag makes you eligible to skip this counter all together. Get your boarding pass at flight check-in (usually available 24 hours in advance of your flight time). Upon arrival at the airport, proceed straight to the security line. If you still like having a physical boarding pass in hand (I certainly do!), print your boarding pass at home or use self check-in kiosks at the airport (majority of airlines have these) that generate paper boarding passes without waiting in the check-in counter line.

Two: Save money by avoiding checked bag fees


  • Saving money on baggage fees can go towards spending to enjoy your trip. If you are traveling, especially with multiple people, this cost can add up quickly. You are paying a round trip ticket just for your luggage. The closer you get to your flight departure, the more the price increases for checked luggage as well.
  • Major airlines such as Delta, Jet Blue, and American charge $25 per bag per flight for domestic flights on the first checked bag.
  • Southwest includes two checked bags in the price of their ticket, which typically means a higher face value ticket cost. Since we do not check bags, we do not benefit from the built in higher ticket cost and rarely fly at this airline.
  • Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier charge $30 for a checked bag but $35 for a carry on. While it’s cheaper to check a bag in this case (Kevin and I may pack one suitcase for both of us to check one bag), we actually adapted to packing small backpacks (book bag sizes) that fit under the seat in front of us to avoid the baggage fees altogether. This works for short getaways but this isn’t viable for all trips.
  • United recently started charging the major airline prices and adding the budget airline baggage policy. For their cheapest ticket option- Basic Economy- a carry on is not included and passengers have to pay $25 at the airport if a carry on sized item is brought. A downside we recently experienced: Basic Economy passengers can no longer do advance check-in, a major inconvenience which forced us to check in at the counter to validate our bag sizes and print our boarding passes. Paying an extra charge to get the Economy ticket (if it is less than $25 and you want to bring a carry on) may be the safer approach if flying United.

Three: Get to your destination faster by skipping baggage claim

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  • What a great relief it is to stride past the mob of passengers huddling around the baggage carousel. Most of us are not the lucky one whose luggage comes off the plane first and it is possible to wait up past 20 minutes for your items, sometimes longer if it takes awhile to get the plane unpacked. This also grants you first and earlier access to taxis, ride-share services, or public transportation. Getting to your final destination quickly is everyone’s travel goal when disembarking from the plane and not having checked luggage certainly helps achieve that.

Four: No lost luggage

  • What is worse than waiting over 20 minutes for your luggage is seeing the last bag drop onto the carousel and it is not yours. One of the worst ways to start or end a trip is having your bag lost. Fortunately, I have never been a lost bag victim but have heard many tales of the massive inconvenience it causes, especially in a foreign country. Using a carry on bag gives you the peace of mind that all your belongings, not just the essentials, are with you at all times.

Five: More freedom and mobility


  • My main reason for exploring carry on packing was for our two week trip to Italy. We made it to nine different cities so we needed something that was portable and safe. This lead us to choosing backpacks over a carry on sized rolling suit case. Since we were using public transportation (trains, buses) to get around, using backpacks allowed us to be compact and mobile while moving from place to place without being slowed down by a rolling suitcase. From a safety perspective as well, something strapped to your body, like a backpack, is harder for a thief to steal as opposed to a suitcase that you may not have a firm grip on at all times.

Want more packing tips? Check out these helpful links!

Happy packing =)

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