Note: I wrote this article before the airlines began charging a fee for checked luggage. So, with those new fees, there is definitely an additional financial benefit to packing light these days.
If you could add a couple of extra quality hours onto your vacation, would you? If you could reduce the stress of traveling, would you? I know I would. It is so easy to save time and energy by packing light. If you haven’t discovered the joys of traveling light, you are really putting yourself under undue stress and unnecessary constraints.
I discovered the joys of traveling light about four years ago. I decided to travel without checking luggage after a trip to Kauai when my luggage was temporarily lost by the connecting airline. I now travel with just carry-on luggage that fits in the overhead bin. Sometimes, I’ll bring a small child’s sized backpack as well. I’ve traveled overseas into multiple climates for nearly three weeks at a time with just a rolling carry-on suitcase and a small backpack.
My goal here is to share the reasons why you’ll benefit by leaving the big suitcases at home. So, lets get started.
1. You don’t have to stand in long lines at the airport to get a boarding pass and check luggage. It seems that the airport lines at the check-in counters are longer than ever these days. You’ll save yourself at least five minutes, but more likely quite a bit more by checking-in online at home and not having to check luggage. Another benefit of checking in online is that you’ll reduce your risk of being bumped from your flight. Most airlines cut-off check-in 30 minutes before departure, so if you might be running late because of traffic, you don’t have to worry about missing the window for checking in. Please note that you will save the time and stress going inbound and outbound. The benefit to you is that you completely eliminate the time waiting in line at the check-in counter. You’ll also benefit by reducing your risk of missing your flight.
2. You don’t have to wait for your luggage at baggage claim. According to a JD Powers study, US passengers wait on average 17.3 minutes for their baggage to arrive. That’s 17.3 minutes that you could be in your convertible headed to the beach. Remember that you’ll save this time again when your are returning home, too. The benefit to you is the time saved getting to your destination and then back home.
3. Your luggage won’t get damaged, pilfered, or lost by the airlines. I’ve had at least two suitcases destroyed beyond use by the airlines. I’ve also had my luggage temporarily lost twice. Who wants to spend precious time watching for your luggage to show up at baggage claim only to discover that it’s not going to show up? Then you must find an agent who can help you file a claim. My blood pressure is starting to raise just remembering the times I had to do just that. The benefits to you are that your luggage will be completely in tact and with you when you arrive at your destination which saves you time and tremendous stress.
4. You won’t require assistance with your luggage at your hotel. I prefer to handle my luggage myself. While it is in my control, nothing will go missing. I always feel silly having a bellhop carry my luggage when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself. After a long flight, do you really feel like making small talk with another stranger? Plus, there is the need to thank the bellhop with a gratuity, which you must prepare for and find the least awkward time to dig through your wallet. Sometimes, when you leave your luggage with a bellhop, you have to wait a while for it to be delivered to your room. Who wants to wait for that? If you are able to bring your luggage along with you, you can freshen up as soon as you get to your room.
5. You will reduce the clutter and bulk you have to carry around. Let’s face it, even with skycaps and bellhops, at some point you have to carry and move your own luggage. The bigger the case, the more the weight. So, make it easy on yourself and pack light. How many times have you packed a large suitcase full and worn every piece of clothing and every shoe? I’d be willing to be that hasn’t happened very often. One strategy that I’ve used to reduce the amount of clothing and shoes that I bring is that I choose either black or brown shoes and select clothing colors that go with those shoes. Shoes take up quite a bit of space in your luggage, so by limiting the number of shoes you bring, you’ll be able to fit your travel needs into a smaller case. Other good strategies are to use the hotel laundry services and/or bring a travel-sized container of Febreze to freshen up and re-wear your clothes. The benefits to you is that you’ll have less weight to carry and less clutter to deal with at your destination.
6. You will be more flexible for changing flights if necessary. If you are confirmed for a flight, but when you get to the airport, you discover that there is a possibility of getting an earlier flight, if you’ve checked luggage, you can’t take advantage of the earlier flight. Also, if your connecting flight gets canceled and you must wait in standby for other flights, you’ll be glad to have the flexibility and have your luggage with you.
If you don’t think you can travel light, I challenge you to just give it a try the next time you travel. I’m almost certain you’ll discover that it is the better way to go. Use these tricks to help you pack light for Hawaii: