Pros and Cons of Flying Carry On Only

For those that know me you would agree that I am pretty low maintenance.  I don’t use much make up, or other devices for my hair, so that saves a lot of space.  I am not a shoe person so rarely travel with more than one pair.   I also tend to put on my rose colored glasses when it comes to the weather forecast for where I am traveling and I just want to believe that it will be perfect weather and I won’t need any rain gear or stuff like that.   So why is it that I do not travel carry on  only?

Are you up for the challenge of traveling carry on only?   There are certainly some advantages but of course also some disadvantages as well.
First up the PROS:
#1 – Less waiting.  You do not have to get in line to check your bag or have to wait for your bag to show up on the carousel.
#2 – No lost luggage.  You know where your bag is so you are the only one that can lose it.
#3 – Save money on bag fees (although that might not be true on all airlines)
#4 – Easy access.  Everything you are traveling with will be just above you so you can get it at anytime during your flight.
#5 – Less weight to lug around from one place to the next.

Now the CONS:
#1 – Limited space.   You will have to narrow down what you take along with you.
#2 – Prohibited items.  Some things cannot be carried on so you will have to really think about those liquids and other items that cannot be carried onto a plane.
#3 – Extra work.  You might have to do laundry while on vacation since you cannot pack as many clothes.
#4 – No Overhead Left – Sometimes it seems like everyone is doing carry on only and that overhead bin space fills up for your get on and then you end up having to check in anyway.
#5 – Lifting – you have to be able to lift that bag up into the overhead and get it out.

Before taking the leap to carry only traveling it is smart to do some pre-planning.  You will want to be sure you choose the right bag.   Since you are going to squeeze everything you need into this bag be sure it is something that makes it a little easier.   While some people might prefer a backpack for their carry on I definitely prefer the rolling bag.   I have heard some amazing things about Away   I think it will be my next purchase to try out.  (if you use that link to buy one we both save $20).   


Next up, you will want to double check your airlines rules.   Maybe should do that before buying your bag just in case, but if you already have the bag just make sure it does qualify as a carry on for the airline you are flying.   Also make sure to compare the fees, in case you are flying one of those airlines that charges for a carry on.
​Get organized – some packing cubes like these  will help squeeze in as much as possible, plus help keep you organized.   Make sure you leave out the things that cannot be carried on.   If you have some liquids you just have to bring that are either small enough or can be put into smaller containers like these  then take them along.   Just be sure to pack them somewhere easy to remove when you go through security.   It might be easier to just buy certain liquids when you arrive.


Don’t forget you also get a personal item that has to fit under your seat.   Be sure to maximize this option as well when squeezing in everything you will need.   I tend to choose a soft sided tote, like my Vera Bradley, which has plenty of little pockets inside.   This is also where I keep my laptop so that it is easy to take out when going through security.    One note of caution though is when picking your seat on the plane certain ones will not have under seat storage so think about that before choosing.
When might it be hard to try and go carry on only?   If you are going somewhere that is cold  it could be hard to pack all the cold weather stuff into just a carry on.  If you are traveling through different climates during one trip you will need a variety of things that might be too much get get it all into a carry on.  We once did a cruise that started in Florida and ended after a visit to Alaska so I think it might have been really hard to pack for that in a carry on.   If you are traveling for a special event where you might need to bring along some more formal clothes and shoes that could make it hard to go carry on only.
If you have a trip that is pretty much going to have just one type of weather, especially something like a beach trip, packing in a carry on should work out pretty well.     Who knows after you do it once you may never check a bag again!
note – any amazon links are part of the affiliate program and I will be donating any proceeds at the end of the year.