The 2014 carry on challenge

My first experience of travelling with carry on only luggage was going to Italy last year.  We went for a week, and Jet 2’s fees for checked baggage were so extortionate there was no way that I was going to be checking a bag.  I am terrible for overpacking, and it was a real squeeze trying to cram in everything I thought I needed into my case.

After we had been through security, I had taken my handbag out of my hand luggage, only to be told when trying to board the plane that I could not take on two items and would have to put my handbag back into my case.  Grumbling under my breath, I attempted to shove it back in (Jim and I had to both put our weight on the case to get it zipped back up again), only to promptly remove my handbag from the case again less than a minute later when I was actually on the plane.

Needless to say when we went to Belgium later on in the year without being subject to airline baggage restrictions, I immediately reverted to a full sized case.

Since then, I have discovered Never Ending Voyage, written by Erin and Simon who have spent the past 3 years travelling the world with nothing but carry on luggage.  3 years.  If they can survive 3 years with carry on, I am sure I can manage a few days or a couple of weeks.  So I have decided that all of my travels in 2014 will be completed with only carry on luggage.

I got this nifty little backpack from Cabin Max Luggage for Christmas, which is made to the exact specifications of Easyjet’s maximum guaranteed carry on dimensions.

2014-02-15 11

Most airlines will allow larger hand baggage than this, and indeed Easyjet also allow larger bags, however this is the maximum size where they will definitely guarantee that the bag will not have to be checked into the hold.

Having decided to travel with only carry on this year, I immediately became convinced of my packing prowess.  I haven’t had a dummy run of attempting to pack my backpack yet, and I have convinced myself that I will be able to fit everything I would normally take into full sized luggage with some clever packing and folding.

The first test will be our imminent short break to Paris.  I’m pretty sure I will not be the genius that I am envisaging and will probably have to have a hard think about what I am actually going to need, and cut out all of the “just in case” items that would usually bulk out my bag.

My main dilemma has actually been whether to pack my DSLR.  That will take up a lot of room in my backpack, and I will then also have to carry it with me everywhere I go, and it is a bulky item to lug around.  But the picture quality is so good, even in the hands of a firmly amateur photographer like me, so how could I not take it to Paris?!

If this works, there will be no looking back for me.  I really hate the whole experience of baggage reclaim at airports, from the jostling for position to get the best spot to grab and run (only to find that you are standing at the wrong end of the conveyor belt when it starts moving), to the sick feeling when everyone else seems to be getting their luggage but there is no sign of your own.

HK Airport Arrival area zone interior luggage belt information display monitors n visitors 13-Feb-2013

By YF2013 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

I definitely like the idea of having my luggage with me at all times to make a swift exit, and hopefully it will teach me not to overpack.

What do you think? Do you travel with just carry on, or are you devoted to a full sized suitcase or bag?


8 responses to “The 2014 carry on challenge

  1. I can’t remember the last time I put a case in the hold! I got a similar Cabin Max carry on trolley case to yours recently but haven’t tested it out yet – looking forward to finding out how you get on.

  2. It takes practice. I like it but I won’t be going back to those days til the kids are a bit older. You do have to be careful with going through gate points, silly as it seems since you unpack five minutes later (and could do so without hassling as many people by unpacking in the gate lounge instead).

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