I’m a pretty efficiency driven person and that is really prevalent when I travel. Whether it be for work or pleasure, a day or a month, I never, and I mean NEVER check bags. The only exception to this rule for the past 10 years was when I am forced to check my daughter’s car seat.
If you are a sleuth worth your weight in salt, you can conclude that I travel with carry-on luggage only.
There are quite a few reasons for this and if you ask anyone that travels frequently, they also subscribe to this theory. While I could go on for a long, long time, here are some of the top reasons I do not travel with checked luggage:
I’m cheap frugal and don’t like paying fees. I mean seriously … take a look at the baggage fees that airlines charge. It’s preposterous. Now if you are travelling on a Business Class award ticket, your baggage fees are typically included but for those travelling in Economy, you’re going to pay out the nose.
There is nothing worse than arriving to a new destination, seeing the sunshine streaming through the windows … and waiting up to 45 minutes to an hour for your bags to get to the carousel. When I arrive, it takes me about 5-10 minutes to get from the airplane to my transportation. I often glance over at the people waiting and silently say a prayer for them.
The Potential for Lost Luggage
You’ve landed in the country of your dreams … the one on your bucket list. You’re super excited and when you get to the luggage carousel, you wait … and wait … and … hold on … there are no more bags coming out … what the … ???
Add about another hour in the airport so that you can go to the Lost Luggage Counter and deal with that guy that has been hearing complaints all day for the last 3 years. He’s probably pretty keen to help you …
I put this picture up because I love the hilarious depiction of the Lost Luggage Counter for Swiss Airlines.
“Hi, there! I’m super happy that I’ve lost my luggage. Can you help me?”
“Of course. I love being yelled at all day but upset travellers!”
Okay, so you’ve now dealt with the Lost Luggage guy and he’s given you a phone number to call to find out the status of your bags. You go off to try to salvage what remains of your trip. You’re sweaty and in a sour mood. Now you’ve got some important stuff in your checked luggage that you’re worried about so you’re now phoning in every 15 minutes to see if they’ve found your bags. After 5 hours there’s finally an updated status and they’ve found your bags … 3,000 miles from where you are. Great. Good news is, your bags will arrive in about 24 hours. Bad news is … you’ve got nothing to wear except the clothes on your back.
Good thing you referred to my Comprehensive List of Credit Card Insurances and have Delayed Baggage Coverage but still … what an inconvenience.
So now that you’ve imagined this scenario, imagine a scenario where you are visiting multiple places on your trip and only staying in one place for a day or two. Based on the efficiencies of airlines (i.e. there are none), what do you think the chances of you being reunited with your bags are?
It’s a nightmare scenario but honestly, it’s not that much of a stretch that it couldn’t happen to you.
They Sell Clothes Where You’re Going
I get it. A lot of people worry about not having the right outfit for a chance occasion that may or may not occur … like a fancy dinner out. This is the reason that people tend to overpack but guess what? There are clothes in the country you are going to. They have stores that sell these aforementioned clothes and you’re on vacation so don’t you deserve to spend a bit on yourself if you need to?
Personally, if I am faced with the situation, I will either pack because I know I will be going for a fancy dinner or if I don’t I will either buy new clothes at the destination or skip the fancy dinner altogether.
You Didn’t Even Wear That
To follow up on the point above, I remember when I used to check luggage (when it was free) only to come home to discover that 50% of the clothes I packed went unworn. I would imagine that many other people fall into the same trap and now that it costs money, it’s not only a bummer, it’s expensive.
Use Your Time and Money on Your Vacation
Ultimately this is a personal choice but for all the reasons I laid out above, I would highly encourage you to try travelling with carry-on luggage only. My wife was the type of person that always wanted to travel with checked luggage but I’ve managed to convince her to go carry-on only and she’s told me that she would never go back. We have had many month long vacations all around the world with nothing more than a carry-on so yes, it is possible.
With the money you save in baggage fees and the removal of the stress involved with lost bags, you’ll be much better off in the long run.
Also published on Medium.