Packing light is the key to being a Thrifty Traveler. At some point in our lives most of us have been guilty of traveling with a massive checked bag. As you travel more and more, you quickly come to realize you don't want or need all that extra gear. Worst of all, many travelers waste time and money sitting in line to check those bags, instead of carrying-on for free. Let me explain why I only travel with carry-on luggage.
Carry-on is Free
U.S. airlines have slowly rolled out Basic Economy fares nationwide, and those high-fee fares are now spreading worldwide. Thankfully, Delta still allows free carry-on with their Basic Economy fare. Other U.S. airlines that still allow free carry-on include Alaska, jetBlue, and Southwest. If you must check a bag then snag one of the many airline co-branded credit cards which will allow you to avoid checked bag fees.
Face it, you don't need half the gear you bring on vacation. You return home and half the clothes you don't even wear. I recommend only packing the bare essentials. I recommend renting an Airbnb with a washer and dryer to wash your clothes a few times during your travels or look for pay by the pound laundry services. You can easily cut the amount of clothing in your bag by half by washing your clothes at least once during your travels.
Avoid Check Bag Lines
Checking in online and carrying-on is the fastest way in and out of the airport. I feel sorry for all those poor people standing in long lines waiting to check their bags. The airport is bad enough the way it is, let's avoid as many lines as possible.
Avoid Lost Bags
Although airlines don't lose bags as often as in the past, it's still a possibility. Carrying-on is a simple solution to avoid this problem. If you do check a bag, make sure to check out Delta's new $50 million technology which allows you to track your checked bag via the Delta app.
Avoid Baggage Claim
Most of us can't wait to get out of the airport and start exploring. You rarely see business travelers sitting at baggage claim after their flights. They quickly deboard the plane and head out of the airport. Wasting time sitting at baggage claim and jockeying for position to claim your bag is something we should all avoid.
Don't be Weighed Down
My favorite part of traveling with a carry-on only is the freedom to travel however and whenever I want. I can bring a carry-on roller bag or larger backpack and ride the subway or go for a long walk on my way from the airport to the hotel, which is something I wouldn't recommend with a beastly roller bag. Having a large bag usually means you have to take a taxi, which can be expensive compared to public transportation. You might tell yourself that you can still take public transit with a large bag but let's be honest; having a large bag on the subway or train is stressful and awkward.
I almost always travel with a smaller backpack and a carry-on bag. Most airlines allow you a carry-on bag and a personal item (backpack) aboard. Always make sure to carefully read each airlines weight restrictions to avoid additional fees. If you've never tried carry-on, give it a shot. Your back and pocketbook will thank you.