Why I Only Travel With Carry-On Luggage (Plus Tips)

Updated July 3, 2017

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack Carry on luggage

I own an 85-litre backpack. Well, technically it’s 70 litres with a 15-litre daypack, but same difference. Anyone who travels a lot knows this is a little excessive. I bought it before minimalism in travel was a big thing, and when I had no idea what I should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE it, and it has now moved with me all over the world. But that’s the only time I use it, when I’m moving from place to place, or on the very odd occasion when I might go tramping (that’s hiking for anyone who’s not a Kiwi) and need a multi-day pack.

I’m much more of a carry on kind of girl, for several reasons.

Carry on only is cheaper

Have you SEEN how much it cost to check in luggage these days? I am aware that not all airlines charge to check in luggage, but this also usually means the flight is more expensive than the budget kind of trip I go for. On the odd occasion I book a flight that includes luggage, I see it as a huge luxury and consider myself to be travelling in style. I don’t know what will happen if one of these days I somehow end up taking a business class, or (*gasp*) first class!

At last glance, adding check-in luggage to a Ryan Air flight was from £35. That’s insane when you consider the cost of many of their flights are around or below that amount. Now that you can take a carry on item plus handbag that helps a lot, and unless I’m moving country, I refuse to pay that amount!

By comparison, Easyjet varies from £12-22 if you book online and goes up to £35 if you wait until you get to the counter. A little more reasonable, and you can only take one carry on bag onto the plane, but I still hate the extra cost and have other reasons for avoiding it too.

Carry on only means less time at the airport

Everyone is so automated now that I can check in, print my boarding pass, and show up at the airport just in time to get to the gate for boarding. There no need to spends hours and hours waiting to board a flight anymore. Except if you check in luggage. Bag drop speeds things up, but there’s often still a line you have to wait in and the time you need to get to the airport is much earlier.

Not to mention the wait at the other end of your flight. I love travelling carry on only because when I get off the plane, I breeze past the baggage carousels and the people who insist on standing right next to them, blocking the way for people whose bags are actually there. No waiting around and delaying with baggage coming off the plane! Also, I swear my bag is always last.

If you’re check-in bag gets lost, and it does happen, you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to locate it. Carry on only means no worries with this!

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack Carry on luggage

Convinced yet?

Seriously, you can get some awesome carry on luggage options these days, and unless you’re going overseas for a super long trip that goes over multiple seasons, or moving abroad, you probably don’t need to check in luggage.

But what will I wear?! I can hear you say.

Well, it’s all in the planning and the packing, and having the right gear.

Planning what you pack

Lists. You need one of those. Write down everything you need aside from clothes, like chargers, toiletries, etc. The must-haves. Then you can move on to the clothes. Do you really need 4 pairs of shoes for a 3 day weekend? How many times have you gone on holiday with stuff that just came along for the ride? Work on outfits that can transition from day to night, or cardigans and jumpers you can wear more than once. I find in winter I don’t need much variation since I can wear the same pair of boots and coat for most of a trip, and just change the rest! Check out these tips for packing for winter travel with carry on only. In summer clothes are lighter so I can take a little more, including dresses that work for day and night. There are some essentials for your carry on bag, but don’t take the kitchen sink!

How to pack carry on only

Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’. This is the way to pack! I always roll my clothes when I pack because they fit much better, and they also come out less creased! Stuff shoes with socks and try to wear anything especially bulky, like a winter coat.

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack Carry on luggage

Liquids

Liquid restrictions can be a pain when you travel carry-on only. Although to be honest, I’ve never had any issues and always managed to fit everything I want in, or bought what I need cheaply when I arrive. Another option is to use non-liquid toiletries. Lush has a huge range of these, and some other companies also make solid toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and all sorts of products that you can keep in small tins and not need to count as a liquid!

Carry on only travel gear

I recently made the move to getting a purpose-built carry on bag. Before this I used my Country Road bag, a staple many Kiwi girls have that’s great for short weekends away. The problem I had with using a shoulder bag was the weight. While it was convenient to not look like luggage if I ended up having to carry it around a city all day waiting for my flight, and it weighed next to nothing alone, once it was filled with clothes and shoes it could get pretty heavy.

Thoughts on the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack

Thanks to Silver Fox Travel & Outdoors I am now the proud owner of an Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Rucksack. I chose it online and it was quickly delivered to me. Next was the true test on a trip to London last weekend and it definitely passed.

Security

The Osprey Farpoint 40 has definitely been made with travelling and security in mind. A small pocket in the front of the backpack is covered with a lip of material to stop it being easily opened, so I could safely keep my passport and money in it. Next down is a laptop and document pocket which was handy, although I noticed putting my laptop cord and chucking a book in there for easier access made the pack a little bulkier. The main pocket has a mesh part to separate clothes and compression straps which I always love as an addition on the inside and outside of packs for easier packing. The Osprey Farpoint has a lime green interior, which is a little bright for my taste but the bag itself is great so I won’t be that picky! Plus you can get the outside in black or blue (pretty!).

I like the Osprey Farpoint 40 because it has proper straps and is built to be comfortable on your back. I’ve noticed some carry on backpacks aren’t built with proper straps or a frame, which can’t be great for your back or entirely comfortable. Plus it has heavily padded handles on the side and top for carrying it and a detachable shoulder strap.

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack Carry on luggage

Size

Going by measurements, the Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Rucksack at 54 x 35 x 37 is a little bigger than some of the maximum sizes for carry-on luggage. For example, Easyjet is 56 x 45 x 25 and Ryanair is 55 x 40 x 20. The last figure is the width, so basically you’re fine as long as you don’t stuff the outer pocket of the bag to bursting, and you can smush it into their little luggage checking frames if need be. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if they might bring out an option where your laptop slides into a separate pocket flat against your back, as this would cut down that bulkiness a bit.

Is investing in a carry on backpack worth it?

I highly recommend a carry on backpack rather than a suitcase. These are more rigid so if you don’t choose the right one you could be caught out with different airline luggage sizes (can they not just get together and decide on this?!). Instead, getting a purpose-built carry-on backpack like the Osprey Farpoint 40 is worth the investment.

The other reason is your carry on shouldn’t weigh so much that you can’t carry it on your back, and it’s much easier to find your way to your accommodation and if you get stuck wandering around with it, to have a backpack rather than a suitcase. I think I’ll always be a backpacker at heart!

Do you travel with carry-on are checked luggage because you’re cheap like me?

Sonja x

If you liked it, pin it!

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel backpack Carry-on only

Disclaimer: I received the Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Rucksack from Silver Fox Travel & Outdoors to try, with no obligations. I decided to write this post to note my thoughts on carry-on and review it and as always, have provided my honest opinion! This post also has affiliate links at no cost to you. 

 

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30 Comments

  • Reply Nigel & Jane July 4, 2016 at 10:56 am

    We’re away for 2 months soon on a 9 country tour and just felt we couldn’t do it carry-on. But I did look at loads of options before choosing. In fact, I made a video about my deliberations over the weekend. http://wp.me/p7ezGr-Lp

    What do you think?

  • Reply Chef William Chaney July 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Great information. We travel a lot where we need to clear customs and sometimes without that much time between flights so we have started to travel mostly with backpacks and one checked bag. Tomorrow we will be traveling to the United States with only backpacks so packing will be key. Thanks for the pic’s on how you pack.

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      You’re welcome! Hopefully you can figure something out for your trip to the US. I think carry on is definitely easier when you have limited time between flights and need to take care of your bags yourself. You’ll be amazed the things you pack that you never use and don’t need as well!

  • Reply Shayan July 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Great but there’s only luxury I neeeeeed to carry with me and that’s a good cologne. I need to smell nice and my cologne sizes won’t go through carry on…what’s the work around for that?

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Haha if they don’t make it in miniature size (which a lot do now, knowing the airport restrictions!) then you might need to think about a change unfortunately!

    • Reply Emily July 31, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      You could always get one of those perfume atomizers (or cologne in your case😉)!

  • Reply Mel - illumelation July 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Really awesome tips, thanks girl! Looking into a new backpack myself. Might check out a 40L, want to force myself to get minimal so I can focus less on whether all my stuff is together and more on awesome surroundings! Also RyanAir and EasyJet are so frustrating with their baggage fee charges. Haha!

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      I’m surprised how much actually fits! I haven’t even tried to stuff it completely full yet, but I think it would still look slim enough to get away with being slightly over the size, or it could definitely be stuffed into those measuring things they use. I can’t believe how much the charges are, it’s crazy!

  • Reply Katie July 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I am struggling so much at the moment to get away with baggage fees and find the perfect carry-on! I’ve got a hiking trip this week and was so excited when I saw this post with the Osprey – but I’ve just checked and I’ve got the 46! Wish I’d seen this before I bought it so I could have gone for the 40 haha! Definitely still using your packing tips though – great post!

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 5, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Thanks Katie! You may be able to try and get away with the 46 not fully stuffed… see how you go when it’s packed! There’s definitely a little bit of an art to packing haha.

  • Reply Norman Schwarze July 4, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Hm..I seriously never understood these kind of guides. I would never ever consider traveling with carry on luggage only. I am not even sure how you can have enjoyable holidays.

    True, some airlines (even lufthansa now) offers a light version for their flights. These are usually like 20 US-Dollar cheaper or so. You also save like 15 minutes waiting for your luggage at any international airport. also you have to consider that most airlines are actually about to limit carry-on size further.

    You sacrifice so much versatility, you sacrifice so much comfort that i find it unbearable. My carry on is usually full with gadget (camera, spare lenses, laptop etc) plus 2 essential outfits in case of any troubles.

    i have had hm..i dunno how many 500 ? flights in my life..probably more. Never lost my baggage, not even misplaced. Was never stolen or anything. I am not even sure how people manage these kind of feats.

    How do you guys limit yourself to one extra pair of shoes? what do you wear for going out and hiking? Also using bad cosmetics or even worse, using the ones offered in the hotel…why?

    sure it is easier to find a hotel with a carry on on your back than with a suitecase. Then again I never saw any reason to search a hotel on site in the first place. Prices are double than what you would get online AND you waste precious holiday time looking for a hotel..

    hm..after 30 years of semi-professional traveling..i just can’t make any sense of this.

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 5, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Thanks for your comment Norman! I definitely still have an enjoyable trip travelling only with carry on :D. Depending on the airline you can often carry a second bag, which is where a good camera bag would come in for all the gadgets.

      It depends how long the trip is of course, and the climate I’m travelling to but I can usually get by easily with 2 or 3 pairs of shoes. A carry on can hold more than you think! Many cosmetics also come in miniature versions, or if it’s a long trip then I would purchase the items once I arrive to carry for the rest of the trip.

      Often backpackers in places like South East Asia don’t book hotels ahead, because it’s cheaper to show up and negotiate. I do usually book in a advance and find getting to the hotel easier with less luggage and with a backpack. It depends on the city of course but I usually like to take public transport.

      Unfortunately I have had my luggage lot for half of a holiday before, due to an airline error :(, and a friend had his lost forever! It’s not that common but it can happen. You’ve been very lucky :).

      At the end of the day each traveller to their own, and if you are happy with checked luggage and it works for you then great! I just like to show others who might be considering a change that carry on only is possible!

    • Reply adit October 21, 2016 at 9:44 am

      You couldn’t have an enjoyable vacation without a suitcase full of stuff? That is so strange to me – how is the enjoyment of seeing a new place, experiencing new things and meeting new people that tied up to the amount of stuff your carrying with you? I also travel lightly and find it to be less stressful. I often travel were Im moving from place to place allot (often times doing so hiking) and couldn’t imagine having to drag a huge suitcase around. If you plan what your packing and your used to not having an excessive amount of stuff, you can easily fit everything you need in a 40-50L bag.

  • Reply sophie nadeau July 5, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I almost exclusively travel wit carry on now too! You save so much time AND money- yay!

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 6, 2016 at 11:22 am

      I’m all about saving money on the trip to spend when I get there haha.

  • Reply Nicole July 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Great tips, I love carry on packing! I travelled round India and Sri Lanka for 6 weeks last year with just a carry on and I didn’t miss anything at all. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks! It’s so doable, yet somehow when I move I still want to take so much stuff with me haha. Clearly I can deal with less!

  • Reply Josh Guerrero July 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    A great read Sonja! I definitely prefer just having a carry-on. For my last few trips (Ireland, Germany, and Israel) I used GoRuck’s 40L GR2. I certainly got through the airport a lot faster. Not to mention it was much easier to get around wherever I was.

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks Josh! It definitely makes it easier to get around. I’ve just finishing pacing for a 10 day trip where I need everything from corporate wear to evening wear to exercise clothes! Still managed to fit it in my 40L pack 🙂

  • Reply Mosafer October 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Since 2013 I learned to travel with just my backpacks most especially when I fall in love in outdoors. It made my life so much easier and hassles free. Also, you can move around the city with your backpack without any inconvenience. The secret is itemize everything you need let say for 7-10 days and don’t forget to bring one pair of corporate attire, a party dress just in case, a doll shoe, a slipper, and hiking shoes. All the heavy things like jeans and jacket I normally wear it to lessen the weight of my backpack.

    • Reply Migrating Miss October 14, 2016 at 10:47 am

      It is definitely so much easier in my mind! Being able to make my way to accommodation, or easily carry my bag around if I have to check out early and I’m not leaving the city, and there’s no luggage storage. This happens to me a lot! I think I’ll make a packing list of what’s essential in a carry on soon, thanks for the idea!

  • Reply Vanessa small October 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Which pack would you use if you were staying somewhere for like 2-3 weeks and only wanted to use a carry on. Which here is a purse or bag and a item that fits above seat .

    • Reply Migrating Miss October 20, 2016 at 10:14 am

      I love my Osprey Farpoint 40! The bag in this post :). I’ve used it for trips of that length before and it fits well in the overhead locker. I prefer to have a backpack than a suitcase because I find it a lot easier to get around with. In addition I usually carry a handbag that’s big enough to fit my laptop etc, although that does fit in the Osprey bag as well. I have a link in this post or in my travel resources to the bag if you want to check it out further.

  • Reply Greg Kennon February 2, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Carry on only is the only way to go! Traveling is so much better if you travel light! I am in the process of getting rid of a bunch of clothes and “stuff” so that I can travel a little lighter myself!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 5, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Definitely! I’m been based in one place for awhile now and I need to go through all the needless stuff I’ve accumulated!

  • Reply Pornchanok February 28, 2017 at 5:55 am

    What size you for this bag Farpoint 40 ,S/M or M/L ?

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      I have the S/M but that’s just about the frame, the litre size of the bag is still the same 🙂

  • Reply Agness of eTramping May 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Packing light is my method when traveling. I completely agree with you, Sonja!

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