I’ve never been one to pack a million suitcases to take on a one-week trip. Instead, I try to limit my luggage to one checked-on piece and maybe one carry-on. However, since most airlines now charge for checked on luggage, I’ve had to get creative with my packing. In my pursuit to save anywhere from $25 or more, or the cost of checking on luggage with major airlines, I’ve figured out a solution for cutting the cost of flying: Take a backpack!
One thing I’ve realized during my traveling is the less you have to carry in your hands, the better and a backpack is a perfect solution. Carrying a backpack on your back down a tight airplane aisle is much easier and faster than wriggling a smallish carry-on down the aisle. Does a backpack work for every trip? Of course not. But it will work for many trips, especially if you plan accordingly:
- Travel to tropical regions – the warmer the climate, the less bulky clothes you have to pack.
- Travel during the spring and summer season – again, warmer temps mean less bulky clothing.
Most backpacks expand more than you think. For example, my $40 backpack that I use for my books, work and school was a great option for me when I traveled to New York this past May. I took a couple of pairs of pants, a few shirts, a sweater, a light-weight windbreaker (it can get cool in New York in May), and a pair of slip-on shoes. I was able to squeeze it all into my backpack.
I even packed my toiletries in the front, small pocket using Zip Lock baggies and small containers. I kept my toiletries to a minimum since most hotels provide hair dryers, small shampoo and conditioner bottles, and a few other things you might not want to take with you – and friends and family can share if you’re staying with them instead.
A few tips for using a backpack in lieu of any other luggage:
- Wear your most bulky clothing that you’ll be taking on your plane ride, including heavier shoes. Smaller items fit more easily into your backpack.
- For women, you can still take your purse. I was able to fit a couple of items in my purse once my backpack became over loaded.
- Make sure your backpack can fit under the seat in front of you for standard class travelers. The benefit of a backpack is it’s easier to take than a small carry-on and will fit in front of your legs so you don’t have to fight for a space in the overhead compartment. You also won’t have to wait to grab your bag when you depart the plane.
This summer, I’m attending my sister’s wedding. I plan to take my backpack and that’s it. However, my husband and I will need access to our nice clothes; a dress, a suit and dress shoes. These items won’t fit in our backpacks and will become horribly wrinkled if I try to stuff them in. Solution: We’re shipping our “nice” clothes ahead of time to the hotel. Using UPS or FedEx and shipping a garment-sized box (flat and mid-length) will cost just less (about $5.00 less) than checking one piece of luggage. And, there’s less chance of the suitcase getting lost since we can track the shipment with a tracking number!
Summary of benefits of taking a backpack on a trip:
- No checked luggage fee.
- Reduced possibility of luggage getting lost.
- No wait time at the carousel after leaving the plane. Just grab your backpack and go!
- Hands-free bag. You can actually hold on to your kid, your coffee, or your partner without loosing your grip on one or the other.
As far as I’m concerned, backpacks are the best invention since sliced-bread.
How do you travel – light or heavy? Would a backpack work for some of your trips?