Packing to Fly Without Checking Your Bags

Flying is all about convenience, and what could be more convenient than grabbing your carry-on, getting off the plane, and walking directly out to a taxi or rental car without having to wait around at the baggage claim carousel? Of course, you have to be prepared to travel lightly if you don’t want to bring along a giant suitcase, but with a little extra effort, you can skip the baggage check altogether and just sail on through the airport with your one bag.

1. Know the Baggage Limitations

Do a little research beforehand to find out what your limits are for a carry-on. If you do not currently have a bag that will suit your needs as well as the airlineā€™s regulations, then it may be best to shop for suitcases or a new carry-on bag. It needs to be able to fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you, so small suitcases, overnight bags and backpacks typically work. You can only have one carry-on plus one small personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag. If you have a decent-sized personal item, you may be able to use that for packing smaller items, such as hairbrushes, medication and electronics. For anyone who’s decided to try out CheapOair, they have links to all the major airline’s carry-on policies so you can see immediately what’s allowed and what’s not.

2. Remember the 3-Ounces Rule

If you’re carrying all your luggage onto the plane, you’re going to have to remember what’s prohibited and what’s allowed. Take travel-sized hygiene products along with no more than 3.4 ounces of liquid or gel. That means leave the regular-sized shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste at home. You also can’t bring most tools, anything sharp or weapons. If you absolutely need to bring along scissors, golf clubs, knives or safety razors — disposable razors are permitted — then you’re going to need to check at least one bag.

3. Pack Only the Essentials

The key to taking everything in your carry-on is only packing the things you absolutely need. If you’re staying at a friend’s house and have easy access to laundry, you don’t need to pack more than a couple days’ worth of clothing, leaving more room in your carry-on for other things you do need. Leave your laptop at home and stay up-to-date with your Facebook and email using your smartphone. Ask the people you’re visiting ahead of time if you can borrow a sweatshirt or coat while you’re there, and you’ll have even more room!

4. Check In Online

The best thing about traveling light is that it allows you to zoom through the airport. If your airline lets you check in online and you’re not checking any bags, you don’t have to stand in line at the ticket counter or kiosk. Just show up at the airport with your boarding pass and head straight to the security line. Be ready to have your carry-on inspected, especially if you have a lot in there, but if all goes well, you could be at your gate in a matter of minutes, ready to board your flight.

If you don’t have a lot of stuff to bring along with you, why spend all that time checking your baggage and waiting for it to be delivered to you? Figure out how to pack the essentials in your carry-on, and you’ll spend less time waiting in line and more time doing a crossword while sitting comfortably!