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Carry-On Luggage - My journey to en-LIGHT-enment

Carry-On Luggage – My journey to en-LIGHT-enment

by Mary Chong
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When I use the phrase “carry-on luggage only” with friends and family I normally get a chuckle and a “you’ve got to be kidding me” as a response. But I’m serious about this….really serious.

Outside of the obvious reasons like saving the $20-30 that we now have to pay the airlines for each piece of checked luggage or making a fast getaway once you get off the plane.

My reason is more personal. Here’s why…

A little while ago on a 14 day cruise through the Mediterranean, my husband hurt his back. There I was at the end of the cruise – all 5 feet petite me – with 2 pieces of 28-inch luggage, 2 carry-on luggage PLUS hubby in a wheelchair trying to get around the airport in Barcelona, then connecting at JFK in New York before getting back home to Toronto. Talk about frustration! luggage-carousel

After that trip, we decided to scale down and on our 21-day adventure through Asia, we travelled with 1 piece of 28-inch luggage and 2 carry-on luggage. (Baby Steps!) But in my opinion that was still too much baggage to deal with.

The Calculated Traveller in me feels that in case of emergency, I need to be able to take care of ALL our belongs by myself. Single handed – I am woman hear me ROAR!

Now, I’m ready to take the plunge. Carry-on luggage only…1 bag each = freedom!

This decision comes with challenges…


  • What type of carry-on luggage should I choose?
  • What about weight limitations?
  • What size works for all airlines – domestic AND international?
  • What about the 3-1-1 liquid rule on the plane?
  • What about clothes and laundry?
  • …and what about my shoes????

So follow along on this continuing story of my journey to en-LIGHT-enment:
Part 2: Carry-On Luggage – One Bag to Hold it All
Part 3: One Bag Carry-on Only Challenge – Update

Are you a one bagger? Have you got any tips to share on how you travel with carry-on luggage only? Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear about it!

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Helen Stucky Risdon December 19, 2013 - 5:35 am

You are so right! I pride myself in traveling with my two carry-ons only. I arrived for an 8-day Excellerated Business School for Social Enfrepreneurs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and accumulated 10.5 kg of notebooks, books and papers.

With the holidays, I bought great functional gifts that Malaysians use. Had to buy another bag. With my food travel bag and a fanny pack, I am an extra wide version of a single woman wagon train. Proof that a nearly 60-yr old woman can be strong and body- mind-spirit however…

I am considering waiting for the teleportation technogy or buying a comfortable pair of red shoes so I can click my heels together to get back home to Kansas!

Teresa May 15, 2013 - 8:37 pm

I laughed out loud at the description of you with ALL the luggage AND hubby in wheelchair (sorry). It sounded like something that might happen with me and my hubby :-) I definitely prefer to travel with only a rolling carry on now whenever I travel. If I am going to be gone more than a week, I know I will be able to do laundry and re-wear my weeks worth of clothes (that fit nicely in my carry on). I wear my tennis shoes and jeans on the plane (as well as a light sweater) and pack one pair of comfy sandals only. I pack a few of these great long dresses (sort of spandex material) that don’t need ironing and roll up quite nicely. They are casual but can just as easily be dressy at night. Underwear and a few tops to go with jeans and I am set. I don’t use a blow dryer, curling iron, hair spray or other products so my make up fits in a small bag. There is a wonderful sense of freedom in traveling with only 1 bag and not having to wait in baggage claim is an added bonus!

Pam Daniels April 2, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Hi Mary. After years of searching for the perfect luggage, I finally made my own. I thought you might enjoy taking a peek. The design I’ve been working on is live on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform where people can invest in an idea they want to see turned into reality.

If you’ve got a moment, check it out and spread the word!


Mary Chong April 8, 2013 - 9:08 am

Thanks for sharing Pam! Interesting project you have going. Hope it comes to production.


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