This is what I would retort to my husband at the onset of every packing stage before a big trip. He assures me this is not a sacrifice but the liberation of a truly professional traveler. I do not like to admit it too loudly but unfortunately, he is right! I may put up a fight but I have rarely ever checked in luggage in the last 3-5 years – check one of many occasions in my post Smart Tips for Travelers, with all my luggage on a 2-week trip to Italy. I have learned over the years of serious travel – 100,000 flying miles per year is no joking matter – a combination of business and pleasure, national and international – that I can have style, variety, smart looks, all my necessities, a few luxuries and still never check in luggage!
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The blatant truth is this:
I never once regret not checking in luggage. Not once!
I often regret when I check in luggage. Often!
If I can do it, any one of you can do it. There is a way and it’s easy and empowering and I am going to show you how – but only after I tell you why – so that you can take back the reigns of control and truly enjoy traveling.
As an American Airlines frequent flyer, I can check in luggage for free if I so desired. That annoying new fee is not the issue here (believe me, that alone might have stopped me!). After years of abiding by hubby’s imploring on this matter, I must say that today, you cannot pay me enough to hand over my luggage – my beautiful clothes, shoes, delicates, accessories, *stuff*! – and hope that it shows up unharmed and untouched – and preferably at the same time as my own arrival – on the other side of the states or the world.
Don’t get me wrong. I like American Airlines and statistics are probably on your side if you check in luggage and expect it to arrive safely and on time at your destination but do you really, truly, need everything you are taking and must pack it in such a way as to require all that room, so that you then need to part with your belongings?
To check or not to check in luggage, that is the question!
Let’s examine Top 11 Reasonsyou should never check in luggage, be it for a week long vacation or a 3-week get-away – in fact, I met a darling independent and stylish American traveler, Pat, in La Guardia on her way to a 3-week getaway to Eastern Europe and her suitcase was smaller than mine! (If you are reading this, Pat, this post was inspired by you!)
1. You never part with your belongings! Yes it may be insured and yes it may just be a few hours delayed coming in from another flight but is it worth the hours on your precious vacation and the nerves in your already-stressed state of being?
2. You never (ever) wait at the baggage claim again – ever! You never linger until that merry-go-round dumps your luggage (which, somebody explain to me, is always last in line, no matter how early or late you check it in!)
3. You can wait for standby to get on an earlier flight or different route! Airline security forbids you from doing this if you have checked in luggage. In other words, you buy freedom of passage to changes in your itinerary!
4. You walk off the airplane and make a bee-line for transportation out to the city!(See #2 for underlying reason)
5. You bypass the baggage fees which is becoming only more expensive with stringent airline budgets! Note: This does not guarantee safe and timely arrival of luggage with you at destination. It is only a fee and I am notorious about avoiding fees.
6. You carry all your belongings without the assistance of a giant airport buggy! This is the enormous airport buggy which is sometimes unavailable, sometimes not free and always slow to maneuver.
7. You look less like a tourist and more like a professional world savvy traveler! No matter how rarely or often you travel, I assure you this is an impressive habit to acquire. For more, check out what great pieces of advice world travelers have shared in Vagabond Quest’s great travel post.
8. You learn to live with creative simplicity – in your wardrobe and in your mind! My friend, Raam Dev, is my hero here, even though I am no where near to becoming a minimalist digital nomad.
9. You can take planes, taxis, metros, trains, boats and easily manage all of your belongings! Most trains and metros in the world do not even have specific luggage compartments and if they do, it’s likely far from your seat and out of your sight.
10. You learn to give the illusion of a full wardrobe without having one at your disposal! More on packing on the next post but one small tip: chic and smart accessories such as scarves, jewelry, headbands, using blacks and whites, and thin, nice layers for changing climates.
11. You do not attract the attention of an entire crowd as you blend in quietly upon your entrance into a city! This is mostly true for European cities with cobbled-stone streets and narrow passages for even pedestrians.
Perhaps this has sparked your interest to consider more drastic (!) options on your next trip or vacation, be it for a week or three. Perhaps you will stick to your own habits and not change a thing. Perhaps you will draw a strong argument against all my reasons in the comment section and we will have a nice dialogue about the whole thing!
Whatever you end up doing with your luggage, remember to travel, travel far, travel often - travel to new places, travel back to your favorite places, and do not allow the sweet comfort of home to keep you from seeing the world – and from seeing it now rather than “someday” – because whoever you may be, it is my sincere belief that the world away from your home has something incredible to offer you, something that can only be achieved through travel!
NOTE: This is only Part 1 of the Travel like a Pro series focusing on why you should never check in luggage. On Friday, Sept 17, Part 2 shares details of my packing style and showcases my just-packed luggage to 3 countries, 2 climates for 20 days! Promise to reveal serious trips for the serious traveler in you so do not miss it!
Now your turn. Please share your thoughts and your travel tips and rules on luggage, packing, and if you think you could commit to never again check-in your luggage.