So you say you want to travel light and are itching for something new? Before you go out and buy a new piece of carry-on luggage I suggest you first do a little research. Start with checking the carry-on policies of the airlines you frequently fly. Check the policies of each airline website individually or use a site like Seat Guru for research.
Here’s the current carry-on restriction for the two airlines I fly most.
Jet Blue – In order to fit in the overhead bin, your carry-on bag must not exceed 22″ L (55.88 cm) x 14″ W (35.56 cm) x 9″ H (22.86 cm), including wheels/handles, on all of our aircraft types
In order to fit under the seat, all personal items must not exceed 17″ L (43.2 centimeters) x 13″ W (33 centimeters) x 8″ H (20.32 centimeters) on all of our aircraft types
American Airlines – Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 23 x 36 x 56 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
Your personal item must be smaller than your carry-on baggage (like a purse, briefcase or laptop bag) and fit under the seat. Diaper bags, child safety seats and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your carry-on or personal item.
Selecting a Carry-On
Look for a bag that rolls easily and will be comfortable to carry through the airport and lift into the overhead. My Antler has four wheels and effortlessly glides through the airport. If you’ve never owned a four wheeler, I suggest you give one a try.
Vintage pieces can be quite stylish. Vintage pieces usually need to be carried in hand so opt for one small enough to be your personal item. For effortless travel through the airport It’s a plus if it fits easily on top of a wheelie. Always try to have one hand free to hold your coffee.
When you find what you think is the perfect bag, take it home, DON’T REMOVE the tags. You want to make sure the bag will work for you so pack the bag like you’re going on a 5-day vacation. You don’t need to pack the exact items just pick a fair representation of what you would normally take with you on vacation or business trip.
Can you fit everything inside?
Can you lift the bag over your head?
Is the bag sturdy enough just in case all the overheads are filled and you need to check it at the gate?
Can you put your personal item comfortable on top of the luggage and not have it flop all over the place?
If you travel with your laptop, can the luggage be used as a table?
If you can answer yes to these basic questions then it’s a keeper and you can confidentially remove those tags.
My Travel Light Gear
The three pieces of luggage I find indispensable are my Kipling 24 x 15 x 10 for those times that I’ll check luggage or for a fun road trip by car. I use the Antler Camden hard shell 21 x 14 x 9, and a 17” travel satchel made by Sole Society for standard plane travel. I still have a 32-inch suitcase that I use for storage in my closet and that suitcase went on so many trips with me that I can’t bear to get rid of it. You might not believe me now but at some point, you may also become emotionally attached to a piece of luggage, so select with care.
When I made the decision to no longer check my luggage I bought a carry-on that was slightly smaller than allowable on Jet Blue, this way I never have to worry about size restrictions and my bag won’t get too heavy unless I’ve packed in full of winter boots and cashmere sweaters! Lifting my luggage into the overhead when it weighs 50 pounds just isn’t as easy as it once was. For the times I travel solo, I always make sure I can lift my own bag. The flight attendants are not required to assist, I’ve been told that it’s some type of regulation that prohibits the attendants from lifting your bag for you. Makes sense, as a traveler we need to be mindful of our limitations and if you can’t lift your bag then better to just check it.
My Satchel goes on just about every trip with me, its fits nicely under the seat and I fill it with all my plane paraphernalia, electronics and things to make my trip comfortable.
What’s inside my satchel?
- Prada Cosmetics Bag
- Flight 001 Liquids Bag
- Zippered Pouch with (noise cancelling earbuds, adapters and cords for iPhone, iPad and Mac Air, Mophie back up battery)
- Small medicine bag(moleskin, travel scissors, band aids, alcohol wipes, small tube of travel Advil, Melatonin, low dose aspirin, Benadryl allergy (just in case) , individual clothes detergent packet
- Clutch Purse with eyeglasses, sunglasses, wallet, keys, and travel documents.
- iphone, iPad, Mac Air ( if it’s a short flight 3 hours or less I usually pack my laptop in my carry on.
- Karma Go (personal WiFi Hotspot)
- Large lightweight Scarf
If I’m checking luggage I would also keep a change of clothes and P.J.’s in my satchel. Once I was stuck in Amsterdam overnight due to a missed connecting flight and all I had was my purse and Airline issued toothbrush, not very pleasant of an experience. My coat was packed in my luggage so I couldn’t even venture outside without freezing my tush off.
This part took me several tries but finally got it together. I would inevitably bring too many clothes and shoes, half of it I never wore. I was afflicted with a bad case of “just in case” syndrome. You know who we are, you’re packing and thinking that, hum, just in case we go out to a five star restaurant I’ll need my strappy sandals and cocktail dress.
On a couple of my trips I carefully planned out several outfits and listed each item in my Trip List app. As I wore an item I checked off the little box next to it. I quickly saw a pattern, I am a comfy dresser, given the opportunity I’d rather wear an awesome pair of ballet flats than those strappy stilettos. I have a bit of a shoe obsession and tend to take way too many pairs, most of which never see the pavement.
What’s in my suitcase?
For a Summer Las Vegas weekend girl’s trip is soooo easy. For this trip I’ll take my Antler and a large tote large enough to accommodate any shopping I might do at the lovely Fashion Show Mall located on the Las Vegas strip.
- Ballet flats – J.Crew Gemma flat in Black
- Flat Sandal – MIA strappy gold sandal
- Low heel walking open toe – Korks
- Jersey dress- sleeveless
- A-line black jersey skirt
- Jeans- ankle skinnies
- White T-shirt
- Black T-shirt
- Cardigan – blue for a pop of color
- Casino purse – small to fit money, id and room keys.
One and I’ll say it again just ONE “just in case” piece. A girl does after all need to be somewhat prepared for the unexpected.
The above list will take me from shopping at the lovely Fashion Show Mall, to hitting the blackjack table to dinner at a nice restaurant. The trick is that every piece of clothing you bring must be in good shape and the best quality fabric you can afford.
I tend to lean toward neutral colors in my everyday wardrobe and find this fits nicely with my minimalist wardrobe choices.
With a little practice you soon will be on your way to packing perfection.