Carry-on or checked bags

Oh ho (as in hi-ho, not hi you ho), this is a subject that has been done to death among travel blogs, but I’m going to put in my two cents. I am very much for doing a carry-on only traveling lifestyle. For weekend trips I’ve been known to go with just a day bag. My friends would occasionally think I was a bit odd for it. One pair of trousers two pairs of socks, two pair of underwear, and a couple of shirts and you’re pretty much set. That even feels like over packing for me. I understand that isn’t as feasible for women, but I’d counter that women’s clothes don’t tend to take up as much space per item.

My Carry-On

I have a couple of special needs for my carry-on. I just went back on the road and got a <href=http://www.tortugabackpacks.com/>Tortuga Air. It’s an awesome bag, but I forgot to factor in my CPAP (machine for my sleep apnea. It takes up almost 1/4 of my bag. In retrospect I kind of wish that I had grabbed the full size Tortuga bag, but c’est la vie.

On this trip out to Australia I’m planning on being out here for a little while, so I brought an extra duffel with me. I grabbed the duffel bag when I was at REI because it collapses down to almost nothing and there were plenty of times on my last trip that I wished for another bag to make a quick trip somewhere (laundry, groceries, etc.). So I landed in Brisbane after about 24 hours on the road and they lost my bag. I’m not going to call out the airline because I heard that they found it and got it delivered to the house I’m going to be staying at in the same day almost. So props for them. However it made me re-evaluate what I put in my carry-on vs the duffel.

I’m pretty paranoid about airlines losing my bags when I know I’m going to be on the road for months, and potentially a year+, so I tried to make sure that everything in my duffel was disposable. I was a little stressed about it when I continued thinking about it the next day, so I made a list of everything in that bag that I could think of. A bit of it was clothes that are duplicates of ones that I already have but in smaller sizes. I tend to drop weight pretty fast when I’m on the road (always a plus), and I wanted to have some clothes around that I liked. If I lost those I’d be mildly irritated, but it happens. Interestingly the things that I would have been most irritated by were things that would have been inconvenient to replace. My Northface rain jacket that I got in Nepal (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it), as well as my hiking sandals from Nepal. I brought my flip flops in my carry-on, which was kind of stupid. Do you think it would have been hard to find a pair of cheap flip flops in Australia? Of course not.

Oh well, I’m going to do a serious audit of my bags, which I was already planning on, but I thought I’d do it here in Australia. I guess this is a lesson from the universe about procrastinating.

General Thoughts

My general feeling is that carry-on is a better way to travel for me. I don’t really need much. It sounds like a self-congratulatory statement, but it’s true. I’d even go so far as to say that you don’t need that much either (yeah I broke the fourth wall and went all second person on you, deal with it punk). It was drilled into me when I was traveling the first time and my traveling companion, and very old friend, took my bag, on my request, and started throwing stuff out.

I had an entire separate first-aid kit. It even had that stupid red cross on it. It was huge. Almost all gone. So were my stash of thumb drives, and half my clothes, and a bunch of adapters, and tons of other stuff I don’t even remember. We threw it out and horrified the poor manager at the hostel in Nepal. I hope he grabbed the stuff and sold it.

I also had a 35L or so day bag and a 50L hiking pack. Granted that was everything I owned, but still, looking back it seems ridiculous to me. I had that very particular travel turtle look you know if you’ve been to many hostels. I didn’t even have any cold weather gear. I feel bad now with having a baggy of band-aids (plasters for my European friends) in my toiletry bag. I’m going to do a complete breakdown of what I have packed and then what I threw out. I think it might be good for people to see.

It also will show that even people that have traveled quite a bit are still prone to accumulating dross (also known as junk, but I like to sound fancy, FANCY!!! /with jazz hands). I’m not really a pack rat like some of my family, but I do like being prepared. There was a bit of kit that I wish I had on my first trip and I think I went a bit overboard when I came out this time.

The one thing that I missed having the first time was a good wireless card for my laptop with an external antennae. You don’t think it’s a big deal until you’re on the third floor of a hostel trying to get work done and they don’t have any wireless repeaters set up. Your options at that point are not to work, or try to get work done in the lobby where they are playing drinking games and blasting the stereo. I don’t know about you, but my willpower isn’t that strong and I invariably would end up playing the games and being merry. I mostly tried to get my work done during the day, but with time zone differences that wasn’t always feasible.

I’m finishing this post quite a bit after I started it (a bad habit to be sure). I got my bag back, and immediately threw out everything I didn’t need. Not really, It’s been two months and I still have too much stuff. However I hope to be back on the road again soon and it’ll necessitate me throwing out quite a bit of my junk. I’ll do a postmortem on it when I’m done.

Cheers and remember that you never really need as much as you think. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Wait, that might have been for something else.