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A lot of my friends have asked me why I only travel with a carry-on. The real answer is my husband. Our biggest blowups in the travel department used to be about luggage. When we first started this trip, I couldn’t fathom stuffing all my belongings into a backpack. Side story – I hated carrying all of my weight on my back. Amos was such a little sweetie pie and he carried my backpack for me sometimes. I’m not his princess or anything. Fortunately, I got him on the suitcase train a few months ago and I think he’s starting to come around to that idea. Okay, now back to the real story. We’ve been traveling now for a year and a half and I’ve only checked my luggage in once. The only reason I even checked it in was because we had a layover in Qatar and we wanted to explore without having to lug around our luggage. The longer I travel, the more I’m thankful for my husband’s “carry on only” rule. Some people think I’m nuts for only living out of one backpack/suitcase for so long, but I promise I have good reasons for it. Here’s why I only travel with a carry-on.

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1. Save Money on Airfare

Some airlines charge an arm and a leg to check luggage in. *Cough Ryanair Cough* It’s almost the same price as your flight sometimes which is crazy to me. Some airlines are nice and include that cost in the actual fare. If the price includes checked luggage, there’s no reason not to check your bag in. If they charge, save the money and go with a carry-on. Use the money you save for meals or activities in your destination instead.

2. Spend Less Time at the Airport

I always feel sorry for the people standing in the ridiculously long queues at the airport waiting to check their luggage in before their flight. Standing in this queue tested my patience once so I try to avoid it all costs now. Save yourself time and frustration by traveling with a carry-on only. Also, this will allow you to skip baggage claim when you land and you don’t waste more time in the airport. I want to start exploring my destination asap and start eating all that yummy food as soon as I can.

3. No Worries About Luggage Getting Lost or Damaged

You have the ease of knowing that your luggage is on you at all times. You don’t have to worry about it getting lost in transit or being mishandled. Fun fact – I checked my luggage in for the first time a few months ago and the airline lost it. Yeah, airlines will possibly reimburse you for losing your bag but it’s a pain to fill out all the paperwork and go back and forth with them. Plus, it’s sad to lose your belongings that you so dearly love. Also, who wants to go shopping for a new wardrobe when they could be exploring?

4. Easier to Be Mobile

I can’t imagine hauling around more than one piece of luggage on the cobblestoned streets in Italy. If you have a carry-on, you can just throw it on your back or easily push it around and not have to worry about it. It’s going to be a fight between you and your multiple pieces of luggage. You won’t win.

5. It’s Safer

With a carry-on only, your luggage stays with you at all times. You have your eyes on it during TSA checks and you don’t have to worry about luggage handlers during flight connections. We took a ferry in Indonesia to get from one island to another and they made people with huge bags store it somewhere else on the boat. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable doing that. I want to be able to keep my eyes on my belongings at all times. Since we had smaller bags, we were able to stuff them under our seats.

6. Less Likely to Forget Something

The less stuff you travel with, the easier it is to keep track of your belongings. When you live out of a carry-on bag for a while, you’ll find a way to pack your bags in a way where everything has a place. This helps you keep track of your items and you can make sure that they made it into your bag where they belong.

7. Less of a Target

You’re going to attract attention when you’re pulling around a bunch of luggage. You scream, “Hey, I’m a tourist.” You’re less likely to get noticed if you have one bag. Don’t make yourself a target for pickpockets and thieves. Plus, thieves know that your backpack or small suitcase isn’t filled with expensive things like jewelry and electronics so they’re less likely to mess with you.

8. Fits in a Locker

It’s safe knowing that your belongings are locked away when you’re staying at a hostel. This is especially key for budget travelers. Most lockers at hostels can only fit carry-on sized bags only. If you have more than one piece of luggage, you’ll have to divide your belongings up so you can store your important things in the locker. That leaves the other half of your belongings open for possible theft. We were in Venice for the day and we paid a tourist office to hold our bags while we explored. Our backpacks fit into the locker. People who had more than one bag weren’t able to use the lockers and their bags were placed in a random room with no security.

Are you a fan of traveling with just a carry-on? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you found this post helpful for when you’re debating between a carry-on and checked bag. Don’t forget to pin it for later!

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About Author

Disha is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has visited 85+ countries with South Africa and the Maldives being her favorites. She gets butterflies sharing her travel and life experiences through words. She loves freedom, sunflowers, and long walks on the beach with her husband. She's obsessed with helping others live a life they don't have to escape from. Lastly, she makes travel more accessible and attainable for others.

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  1. Hey Girl,

    I travelled with a carry-on only for the first time a couple of months ago. I loved it! You’re so right, so much less hassle, safer, and less expensive! I don’t know that I will ever go back to checking baggage. It does take a little more planning and thought to pack. I really had to whittle things down and think about if I’d actually use them on my trip. It was totally doable though, I even came home with one outfit I never even wore!

    I love your blog. You always have the best tips! Safe travels!


    1. YAAAYY!! I’m excited that you had such a great experience with carry-on only. It really is life-changing. Thanks so much for being a fan! 🙂

  2. I’m with you on carry on only. I try to travel as light as possible. The other week I had 11 days in Bulgaria and everything, including my electricals and camera weighed in at 6.1kg. I was travelling on my own so I was very happy with my lightweight bag.

    If I am travelling with my partner and we need more liquids (Deet etc) than we can carry on we put everything in one bag and then just pay to check one in rather than two.

    However when we do that we make sure that anything that we couldn’t replace is in the carry on and spare clothes just in case luggage goes astray.

    Great post, I will Tweet

    1. Wow – 6.1 kg for 11 days is awesome! I hope you had a great time in Bulgaria. It’s a gorgeous country. Thank you so much for reading and sharing! 🙂

  3. Disha, these are all great reasons! Maybe this will deter me from checking in my luggage next time! Love that I discovered your blog. 🙂

  4. I love reading your posts. I cannot begin to imagine traveling without my luggage, as I always over plan and bring WAYYY more than I will ever need because I have a fear of not having something when I need it. I can see the advantages of traveling with only a carry on though. Your points make a lot of sense…and inspire to slowly work towards packing only the necessities.

    1. Thanks so much for reading! Yeah, it takes time and a little practice to be fully comfortable traveling with a carry-on only. You’ll get there. 🙂

  5. I used to travel with carry-ons only. I checked my bag once and haven’t looked back. I really love not having to carry a heavy backpack or lugging a suitcase through the airport. But I do hate waiting afterward at the baggage claim. I feel my bag is always last. While I usually travel light, I have way too many liquids over the 3oz allowed in carry-ons. That is a big reason I also check.

    1. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I think a big downside to carry-on only is the liquid rule, also. I have so many toiletries so it gets difficult sometimes. Thanks for reading, Ashley!

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