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Travel Tips

Traveling with a minimum of luggage is one of the best ways to travel.  We describe a great sized bag and techniques for adjusting to traveling light.


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Travel Advice/Travel Tips -  Footloose and fancy free – how to travel light

If you are going to be taking a vacation focused on driving, hiking, museum hopping, or just wandering, try to travel light.

Note that in June 2015 international authorities indicated that carry-on bag sizes for international carriers would be reduced from 22x14x9 to 215x13.5x7.5 (all measures are in inches). At this time the guideline is not binding, but check with your carrier before assuming that your old luggage will still be allowed onboard in the future.
  • See if you can get by with one, medium sized bag that contains all that you will need for the duration of the trip
  • Although it does not work for everyone or for every vacation, you should try traveling with one piece of luggage in the form of a bag that fits under an airplane seat.
  •  In general, you should choose a soft-sided bag, approximately 9x22 x14 constructed of durable material.
    •  An example of this type of bag is shown below. We travel with an Eagle Creek product, a company that makes top quality luggage for the mobile traveler.
    • A good quality bag of this type is sold at the Rick Steves travel web site.



          The ideal trip luggage. The map is shown to provide scale

Traveling with one, moderate sized, suitcase makes for greater mobility than lugging around large suitcases.

  • When we used to carry large bags, it never failed that halfway through the trip my shoulders and arms would start hurting from carrying our herd of luggage.
  • Each bag seemed to weigh a ton. When we returned home, my wrists and elbows would ache for weeks.
  • To top it off, I would carry home clothes that I had not worn.
    • For some reason I was never invited to the queen’s banquet and did not need all that sporty stuff I lugged halfway around the world.
    • Of course, carrying a small bag helps avoid the comment made by a porter at a hotel in Hawaii who asked us "Have you heard of washing machines?"


After deciding to carry a single, medium sized, bag on our trips, my aches and pains related to bag carrying disappeared. It was easy to pack and unpack. Getting ready to leave the hotel and pack the car took a lot less time. And choosing what to wear was a lot easier. However, I appreciated the small bag most of all because they gave me a flexibility that I had never dreamed of when I carried multiple, large bags.

When you pull one bag out of your closet to pack for a trip, the first thing you are going to say is “I can’t fit my stuff in there”. Well, you can fit what you need in there but you have to be flexible and practical.

  • It is a little known fact that the United States is not the only place in the world that has laundry facilities.
    • When we travel in Europe, we often take our soiled clothes to a local laundry that provides laundry and folding services.  We drop  off the clothes and pick them up at the end of the day.
    • Doing so is neither expensive nor inconvenient.
    •  Between trips to the laundry, we wash whatever we need in the bathroom sink at our hotel and hang them to dry overnight.
    • Many hotel tubs come with a built in clothes line.
      • To be safe you can buy a portable clothes line constructed of two suction cups connected by strong cord and use it whenever you need to dry something.
      • Also, take a couple of packs of Woolite (available at most travel stores).  It takes up little space and really gets  clothes clean).

So, if we have convinced you to do some laundry, how about trying to cut your clothes down to just enough to fit in one 9x22x14-inch bag?

  • You will need to reduce the amount of clothes that you normally would carry in a larger suitcase.
    •  If the seasons require travel with a jacket, wear it on the flight.
    • If you want to take a sports coat, wear it on the flight.
  • In order to deal with inclement weather, we suggest that you pack or wear a waterproof parka and be prepared to layer clothes, if the weather turns cold.
  • It is necessary to be ingenious to fit everything into one bag. We give you some pointers in our articles on packing  and clothes selection.

We think traveling with a small bag will work for you if you are willing to give it a try. You might want to experiment with a single bag on a local trip. We routinely take ours on European excursions varying from 10 to 20 days in length.



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