How to Travel with Carry-On Only

Traveling with half of a carry-on bag became our reality when Dylan, our 21-months-old boy, joined us on a “mission” of exploring the world. Since we do not travel for extended periods of time, checked luggage never appears to be needed or appropriate. On the contrary, the small carry-on bags always give us extra flexibility and save tons of money. With the hand luggage, we are able to stick to budget airlines and forget fees associated the checked baggage.

Keeping that in mind, advantages of traveling with only the carry-on bag are pretty much endless (when you comply with airlines rules, of course). But with Dylan, we’ve been forced to go a little bit extreme and use only half of a carry-on bag per person. The other half in both of our carry-ons is usually occupied by the little traveler’s stuff. (Babies do really need a lot of things!) With such little space left for us, the adults, we have to become creative. After almost two years of traveling with half of a carry-on bag per adult, we came up with some tips and tricks that really work for us. Hopefully, you will find them practical and useful as well.

Traveling with carry-on bag, More than Destination
Traveling with half of a carry-on bag is simple when you make it a habit.


1. Master Minimalist Packing

It could not be simpler than that. Pack only what you need and leave the rest at home. But is it really how most of us do? We seriously doubt because this is what put us in troubles quiet a few times. When traveling with half of a carry-on bag, you need to start separating the “want” from the “need”. It’s not difficult at all when you get in habit of doing it.

Think about it this way. Do you need more than ten new outfits when traveling with half of a carry-on bag considering that your trip lasts ten days and wearing new attire every day is at most importance for you? The answer is obvious: “No.” Then take out of your carry-on that eleventh pair of shorts or twelfth, thirteenth, or even fourteenth t-shirt. Is your carry-on feels lighter instantly?

Let us make even more room in it. Instead of bring a whole new outfit for a day, pack a few versatile items that go well with some other clothes. For example, you can match that neutral color shirt with black pants and your favorite travel shorts. Bingo! There are three items in your carry-on bag that will create new looks for you for two days. Go on and take out another extra shirt or skirt. Do this exercise a few times until you comfortable with your choices and at the same time do not feel deprived or forced to wear the same clothes over and over again.

This tip is also useful for your toiletries, makeup, and other travel gears such as cameras, chargers, tripods, etc. that you absolutely need when traveling with half of a carry-on bag.

2. Get over Fear of Forgetting Something

Admit it, we all suffer from it. It is like our internal alarm clock that goes off every time the travel bags are out and ready to be filled. As much as we are happy about upcoming trips, the fear of forgetting something takes hold of our minds and drains us of all excitement. Just the idea of raveling with half of a carry-on bag stresses every single cell of our bodies.

Stop! There is a simple solution to it. When in panic, relax and watch, listen to, or do something funny, something than makes you laugh. The packing… Just do the things outlined previously and do not worry about the rest. If upon arrival at your destination, you, all of a sudden, notice that toothbrush or comb was left behind, go and buy a new one. There is 90% chance that you do not travel to Antarctica or Siberia, or any other deserted places where you will not be able to find a store.

More than Destination, Traveling with a Carry-On
Do not be afraid of forgetting something.

3. Do Your Laundry when Traveling

If you are lucky one and travel for a long time, do not be in a rush to trace your half-full carry-on bag for a checked suitcase. Rather, make it a habit to do laundry at a new destination. You can wash small things in your hotel room and let them dry there. For heavier items, use public laundromats. This is a one of the most economic tips we discovered when traveling with haft of a carry-on bag per adult. The prices for using public washing machine and dryer vary from place to place. In Los Angeles, for example, you can get your clothes clean and dry for less than five dollars. In Rome, for the same service, we paid seven euros.

4. Make Yourself Familiar with Airline Policy

Oh, we screwed up with it big time. During our recent European adventure, we booked tickets from Rome to Barcelona with Ryanair Airline. They have really cheap flights. We like traveling on budget, don’t we? But it was not so simple. This airline has strict rules regarding traveling with a carry-on bag. They literally measure dimensions of all handbags right at the gates. We are not going to list all the measurements here, but let us tell you one thing. Amount dozens of people boarding the airplane that day, every third passenger traveling with a carry-on (we are talking about lightweight, small size handbags here) had to pay extra fee of 50 euros and check in their bags. We were not exempt from it. So, go figure… We encourage you to use our bad experience and always, always check the sizes of the allowed carry-on bags.

Traveling with halt of a carry-on bag, More than Destination
We had our share of ups and downs while traveling with half of a carry-on bag per person.

5. Leave Extra Space for Gifts and Souvenirs

Even when traveling with half of a carry-on, leave some extra space for unexpected purchases. Do you remember the time when right before getting on an airplane, you were in desperate need of that travel book at Hudson Bookseller?Or that handmade fan with Spanish motives that you could not pass by? Nothing wrong with buying some gifts or souvenirs from different locations in the world that remind you about your travel adventures. But make sure to have enough space in your carry-on to shove them in without facing overweight luggage fees.



  1. Travel Bags
    June 24, 2019 / 6:15 am

    Thanks admin for sharing this informative article.

    • Zhanna
      June 24, 2019 / 9:35 am

      I’m glad you found it useful.

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