Packing drives me crazy.
I always leave it to the last-minute, that often being the morning of my departure. It's often a case of cramming everything in and making a mad dash out the door.
That, and I do believe I've spent some of the best years of my life waiting to check baggage in at various airports around the world.
I don't know exactly how it's happened, but over the last seven years of traversing the globe, I have somehow got worse at packing and not better. It doesn't seem very fair at all, but a fact is a fact.
I'm not one to look to for advice in this area. So, thank goodness there are people like Erin McNeaney in the world.
Erin has traveled the globe with her partner Simon for six years. They're digital nomads, who have whole-heartedly embraced the concept of slow travel, writing about their adventures on their website Never Ending Voyage.
Over the course of the last few years, they've visited over 30 countries. During this time, they have never checked in a bag. As Erin says:
All of our possessions fit in a single carry-on backpack each, and we haven't missed owning more.
Yeah, my jaw hit the ground when I read that too. As someone who is inclined to pack everything but the kitchen sink when preparing for a trip, I was eager to learn of how the couple had managed to do this.
Luckily, Erin has compiled all the knowledge she has gained over the years into her newly released book The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light.
There is so much to learn from traveling with just carry-on luggage. As she points out, it saves you time and money, reduces the stress of full-time traveling and saves your back from long-term damage.
Why Erin's Book is a Must Read for Travelers
Traveling with hand luggage only is easier said than done.
In your quest to downsize to the bare minimum of what you need, you'll have plenty of questions.
- Should you use a suitcase or a backpack?
- Which suitcases and backpacks are viable options?
- How do you pack for constantly changing weather?
- What about airline liquid restrictions?
- How can you travel with heavy electronics and the rest of life's necessities, without checking your luggage in?
Erin answers all these questions and more.
Her book is divided into four sections.
She begins by explaining her reasoning behind traveling with carry-on only. This is followed by a detailed explanation of both airline restrictions and which sort of carry-on luggage you should choose (complete with personal recommendations).
In part two, she covers essentials for travel – clothing for both men and women, toiletries, electronics and the like.
Erin's well-versed in what you'll find you don't need and offers alternative suggestions, such as swapping high heels for compact ballet flats and sourcing locally made soap instead of using laundry detergent.
Part three covers pre-departure preparations – how to pack without losing your mind and organising the contents of your bag.
She explains how she doesn't balk away from wearing clothes more than once, offering tips on how to get the most mileage out of your fabrics.
The last few chapters of the book consist of various interviews with other carry-on travelers from all walks of life – young families, yoga-enthusiasts, an artist and a fashionista.
Yes, you can pack light and keep up your signature style, throughout any weather, simply through fabric choice and a bit of forethought!
The Pros of Traveling With Carry-On Luggage
I missed a connecting flight earlier this year, a fact I'm still rather dirty about.
What irritates me the most about this experience is that I'm convinced that I would have made my connection, if it weren't for my checked in luggage.
I was in a situation where my luggage had to undergo multiple screenings, which took over an hour. Having missed my original flight, it took me another two days to get home.
However – if I had traveled with hand luggage only, I would have been out of the terminal and onto my next flight in less than ten minutes.
I would have saved myself a significant amount of both time and money – plus I'd probably have a few less grey hairs from unnecessary stress.
It happens to everyone. Late last year, I saw a traveler getting grief over his hand luggage not fitting into an airline's size restrictions. The poor man stood on top of his suitcase, trying to compress it into luggage sizer to avoid having to pay a fee.
There are so many tips and tricks to avoiding these sort of scenarios and Erin describes them in full detail in her book.
Minimalism is Key
I firmly believe that we've all been conditioned to think that we need more items than we do.
There's nothing wrong with wearing clothes more than once, before washing them. You can manage without most toiletries. Technology is ultimately designed to save space and make our lives easier, not be cumbersome.
Erin's book is a resource I wish I had when I started packing for travel. Yet, it's never too late for change.
I'll be incorporating the knowledge I've gained from reading The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light into my next adventure abroad and hopefully save myself some time, money and stress in the process.
As Erin says, there's no harm in trying it out. However, she remains convinced that once you've had a taste of traveling with minimal items, you'll never look back.
You can read The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light now through Amazon Kindle for US $4.99 (or local equivalent).
LC is an ex-expat who is currently re-exploring her home country of Australia. Follow her adventures at home and abroad via her blog Birdgehls, where she writes about travel, expat life, gushes on about various animals and bemoans her often futile attempts to go completely green. Or, you can look her up on Facebook.