I almost never deviate from carry-on luggage. Black dress, black pants, a few shirts and two pairs of shoes. But, last month, I did. And, boy did I regret it. While packing for a nine day odyssey from the Rhone to Paris, I allowed visions of linen clad afternoons in Provence and swanky evenings at the Ritz Paris cloud my instincts. Though my brain screamed, “non!” to that extra dress, heels and snakeskin clutch, my heart argued valiantly. Even with a tight connection in Spain, I checked a bag. The aftermath- flight cancellations, chaotic rebooking, missed connections, baggage claim fiascos, emergency shopping and taxi challenges-were time and energy drains. And, all attributed to this one annoying checked bag. Even when the suitcase was returned five days into the trip, it continued to dog me. When stuffed with the “essentials” I had to purchase for the days sans clothing, the bag become more unwieldy. As I lugged it up the narrow steps of the TGV train, it whacked me repeatedly, a physical reminder of what a drag it is to be saddled with luggage while traveling.
Here are 7 reasons to commit to the carry on. Yes, it can be a bore, especially while in dazzling cities. But, ultimately, a lean, mean packing scenario is liberating.
1. A LARGE BAG ENCOURAGES OVERPACKING
Challenge yourself to scale everything down. Bring multi-tasking items of clothing that can be dressed up and down. For a ten day trip, pack for 5 days and plan to do laundry. And hey, you can always go shopping.
2. WITH A CHECKED BAG, YOU HAVE NO FLEXIBILITY IF YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED
If your flight is cancelled, you can’t switch airlines to catch the next flight to proposed destination if you have a checked bag. Well, you can. But, if you do, your bag stays on the original carrier so the chance of lost luggage increases.You have to wait it out (this means passengers in line for hours waiting to be assisted by the two frazzled women manning the desk) and hope that your flight is rescheduled. In either case, your luggage may still be lost. I stuck around Iberia at O’Hare for 6 hours until my flight was rescheduled. Still, my bag did not make it to Lyon. Even though the priority desk assured me that it had been transferred to the new plane.
3. CONNECTIONS INCREASE RISK OF LOST LUGGAGE
There is a high percentage your bag can be lost, especially when connecting internationally. It has happened to me countless times.
4. LOST LUGGAGE MEANS LOST TRAVEL EXPERIENCES
With a lost bag, loads of paperwork must be filled out at the airport. Then, you have to waste time buying “essentials” to tide you over until the bag shows up. You must call the airline carrier and the airport every hour (on your dime) to check on the status of the bag. Then, you have to document all of your purchases and submit receipts for reimbursement.
5. TRAIN TRAVEL IS A HASSLE WITH A HUGE BAG
If you are taking a train (I was on the TGV), lugging a huge suitcase is a liability. I still have bruises.
6. SMALL TAXIS WON’T TRANSPORT A HUGE BAG
Taxis in Europe are smaller than the US. Many can’t accommodate a big bag. So, it’s another wait until Uber or a larger vehicle turns up.
7. BAG CHECK MEANS WASTED TIME AT BAGGE CLAIM
Waiting for the bag just takes time away from travel.
How to Maximize your Carry On:
• Eagle Creek “compression” packing cubes
• Beauty/grooming minis
• Dress-it-up jewelry (bangles, necklace, long earrings)
• A goes-with-everything black dress
• A colorful scarf that can double as a shawl
• Dark denim jeans that can be dressed up and down
• Two pairs of versatile shoes.