I’m a firm believer in never checking my bags when I fly. There are many reasons for this, relating to peace of mind, convenience, and saving money, and it all adds up to justify why checking luggage can be inimical and a pain in the ass. Here’s some of my arguments:
It’s Just That Much More Convenient
Sure, it’s convenient to just drop that luggage of yours off at check in so that you don’t have to schlep it all around the airport as you wait endlessly for boarding, but here is where I preach a case of delayed gratification. If you can take your luggage aboard with you and stow it overhead or under the seat in front of you, you are basically done. No waiting for luggage at the carousel. Also, all your items are right there should you want to access them sometime during your flight.
Avoid Lost/Damaged Luggage
Lost and damaged luggage can destroy a vacation fast. Luggage horror stories are about as ubiquitous as they come, and almost every traveler has at least one. Lost luggage on your outbound trip can leave you with a headache as you try finding out what’s going on, often in a foreign destination. You will have to go through the process of filling out a claim form, complaint, and reimbursement procedure. Oh, and you’ll be out of all your clothing and necessities while you are there. Damaged luggage is just as common, and you can consider yourself somewhat lucky if this is all that befalls you when you check. Still inconvenient if you will have to drag a rolling duffel with one less wheel all around, no?
Save the Fees
There are many times when you won’t incur fees for checked baggage, such as with international or premium class travel, or if you are an elite status member of an airline loyalty program/frequent flier account. However, for many domestic trips now, as well as short-hop flights, the rates have been going up on checked baggage, due mostly to the consolidation of the airline industry and the global economy being crappy. Save yourself from even wondering if you will incur a fee or not by not checking. Also, you potentially save so much more money by reducing the chances that your baggage will be lost, damaged, or tampered with.
Speed Through the Airport
Like I mentioned earlier, bringing your luggage aboard with you saves you time as you disembark the plane. You don’t have to wait for the luggage carousel for an hour, fretting about if your bag will ever appear, and in what condition. If you are traveling internationally, carrying on your luggage already has you strategically-positioned to be one of the first to reach the passport control and customs area, out of everyone in your plane. If you think about it, most people who travel internationally will have a heavy luggage count, since these are normally longer trips and ones where they will bring back more items, so carry-on luggage will automatically put you in the top 10% of those aboard your flight that will leave the carnage of the airport process behind first.
Defend Yourself from Mental Anguish
All of the above reasons cause me anxiety, and I hate not having peace of mind when I travel. Carrying on luggage lets you know where your things are at all times, since you are not trusting your belongings’ safety and well-being to strangers and systems notorious for their incompetence and manhandling. No surprises, and that’s a good thing – there are rarely good surprises when it comes to your luggage.
How to Do It?
It may seem like a Herculean feat to cram everything that you think you need into a tiny bag, but it is possible. You don’t really need everything that you think you should bring, and so you shouldn’t bring everything that you think you need. See if there are items that you plan on packing that can be purchased and obtained at your destination, and that’s a start. Don’t try to bring one pair of shoes for each outfit. Clothing will take up the most space in your suitcase, so pick some outfits that can be mixed around to give you multiple clothing arrangements with minimal actual pieces. For more information on packing and traveling light, read these two articles: