For many reasons, traveling can be both a joy and a pain.

When you travel, chances are you want things to be as simple and convenient as possible. However, easy travels are not guaranteed every single time — especially when you have to fly.

When you travel by plane, it’s always a great idea to make things as easy on yourself as possible. You can prepare well: pack light, have your documents on you at all times, bring enough cash to get you through departure and arrival, and make sure that you arrive at the airport on time.

If you want to take it a step further, you can fly with carry-on luggage only.

You may be instantly against the idea, but there are many reasons why you should give it a try at least once. Check out some of the reasons below.

Reasons to Fly with Only Cabin Baggage

1. You won’t need to pay for extra luggage fees.

When you purchase tickets, there are times where you might find yourself having to pay extra for luggage. Luggage fees become especially common when dealing with budget airlines, which is why traveling with only your carry-on baggage can help you save a lot of money in the long run.

It may be intimidating to fly with only a small bag. However, if you pack wisely, chances are you won’t have any trouble at all. Remember that you do also get to bring one personal bag with you (such as a purse or a computer/laptop bag), which can help make more room for your essentials.

2. You won’t have to worry about your luggage making it onto your flight.

Everyone’s heard of (or even had their own) baggage horror stories before.

You might have heard of luggage that didn’t make it onto the plane or bags that were sent to an altogether different destination. Then you have suitcases that have straight-up become lost, tampered with, or stolen.

If you are worried about your belongings being able to arrive at your destination with you, consider skipping the added baggage and travel with just hand luggage.

3. You can keep most (if not all) of your belongings with you at all times.

Traveling by plane can be stressful and tiring.

Besides all the stress, people may also experience anxiety from having their belongings separated from them during the flight. If you usually find yourself worrying about your things on a plane, traveling with only a carry-on bag might be a fantastic solution. You can put your carry-on bags in the compartment above you or under the seat in front of you, which means you can more easily keep track of everything.

Make sure that you don’t get seated on an emergency exit row because there are special rules for where you can and can’t put your belongings there.

4. It’s much easier to pack as well as unpack.

One of the biggest reasons why traveling with only carry-on baggage is fantastic is it makes packing and unpacking easier. After all, when you have a limited amount of space and a weight limit to worry about, you get forced to pack smart.

It may be a bit of a hassle at first since you do have to pack and whittle things down to the bare essentials. You also have to make sure you aren’t packing anything that isn’t allowed into the cabin. However, once you figure out what your bare essentials are and what works best for you, it becomes far easier to pack for your next trip.

Unpacking becomes a breeze as well, with few of your things to put away when you get home.

The best part is, if you are a frequent flyer, you can keep your bags packed (with clean clothing, of course) and ready to go for your next trip.

5. It’s fantastic for shorter trips.

Many people find themselves struggling to pack light for a trip.

But when you have little space in a carry-on bag, you can make better decisions about what you need to bring. Unless you have some event or special occasion to attend during your trip, you can make the essentials fit quite easily.

Traveling becomes a breeze when you don’t have to worry about your baggage.

6. You can save yourself from having to carry heavy suitcases around.

One of the biggest nightmares when traveling is having to lug around your heavy bags.

With wheeled suitcases, it’s much less of a bother. However, when you have to bring your hefty baggage along after an exhausting flight, even wheeled suitcases become quite the drag.

You can save yourself from this problem by bringing only carry-on luggage which is much lighter in comparison, and far easier to take around with you. You don’t even have to worry about getting your heavy bags up and down flights of stairs.

And you certainly don’t need to think about getting your stuff in and out of vehicles.

7. Checking in to your flight becomes a faster and more convenient experience all around.

Modern life is much more convenient, thanks to humanity’s many innovations.

These days, there are a few more ways for you to check-in for your flight — for one, you can do it online before you even have to go to the airport.

Some airlines might have terminals or machines available at the airport for you to check-in and get your boarding pass. In most cases, you no longer need to show up at an airline counter when you check in — unless you have checked baggage, that is.

If you have check-in bags, you will have to line up at a baggage drop. Sometimes, this can be easy and painless, especially if you show up to the airport well ahead of your flight. However, at some airports (or if you arrive with little time to spare), there may be long lines at the baggage drop counter.

If you would like to skip lining up at any counters altogether, traveling with only your carry-on baggage is the best way to go.

8. You can be out of the airport as soon as you get through immigration clearance.

Aside from being able to check in for your flight faster, you also get to finish at the airport and leave sooner when you arrive.

On arrival, you have to get through immigration, the baggage claim carousel, or customs.

When traveling with only your carry-on, you won’t have to stand around waiting for your suitcases to show up at the baggage claim. Chances are, you also won’t have to worry much about customs as you leave the airport.

The ease you get from having no check-in bags is perfect for when you are in a rush, or when you want to get to your accommodations fast.

little girl in airport with cabin bag

Tips for Traveling with Only Carry-On Luggage

Although you get many benefits when traveling with only carry-on luggage, you also have a few limitations to keep in mind. To help you transition to flying with no checked luggage, here are some tips.

Find Out Your Airline’s Carry-On Specifications

Not every airline has the same rules when it comes to carry-on baggage.

If you’re flying with an airline that you haven’t flown with before, it might be a good idea to find out their specific rules. This way, you can plan everything better when you pack.

Knowing the size of the bag you can bring and the maximum weight it can be will save you trouble when you get to the airport.

Find a Good Bag with Many Compartments

You can make your life a lot easier by having a lightweight carry-on bag that is a good size.

You can always buy a new one that you know will fit into most airline carry-on specifications.

Alternatively, you can use something like a backpack or a duffel bag, as long as it has enough space and compartments to make packing easier for you.

Pack Outfits Rather Than Individual Pieces

A lot of people struggle to pack lightly for trips because they simply chuck everything they like into their bags.

While this can work fine when you have check-in bags, it won’t work for your carry-on.

You can make it easier by packing outfits rather than single pieces. That way, everything that goes into your bag has a purpose. If you have extra space after that, you can then start adding individual items to round everything out.

Additionally, if you can, try to bring multi-tasking (and non-wrinkle!) pieces so that you can make the most of your limited carry-on space.

Learn How to Pack Tightly

If you are packing a carry-on bag and you run out of space immediately, you might want to rethink how you pack.

There are many ways you can optimize the way you put items into your bag. You can try rolling your clothes instead of folding them, as this is much more space-efficient.

You can pack socks and other small things in your shoes. Bring small toiletry sizes (or buy them when you arrive at your destination).




Frequently Asked Questions

Does a pillow count as a carry-on?

No, a pillow does not count as a carry-on piece nor a personal item. However, you should try to limit the size of the pillow to make sure it doesn’t disturb the passenger sitting adjacent to you. In addition, some airlines provide a small pillow on long-haul or international flights for economy seats. Most business class seats include a standard-sized pillow.

What happens if my carry-on is too heavy?

If you’re carry-on is too heavy, the airline can charge you an excess baggage fee. This will vary with each airline. Furthermore, some airlines do not enforce or weigh carry-on bags. On the other hand, some airlines do not have a weight restriction on carry-on baggage, but you should be able to safely stow your carry-on in the aircraft overhead bins without assistance: don’t bring carry-on luggage that is too heavy for you.

Can I carry laptop bag along with a cabin bag?

Yes, most airlines will allow you to bring a laptop bag in addition to your cabin bag. The laptop bag should be fitted for a laptop. Laptops are never meant to be checked because the battery is a dangerous good and needs to remain with the passenger. Airlines will try to accommodate the laptop and laptop bag.

What if my carry-on is one inch too big?

This will vary with each airline, but they can charge you an excess baggage fee or force you to check in your carry-on. Many airlines, especially large carriers, do not measure the size of the carry-on. You’ll be surprised the amount of oversized carry-on luggage passengers bring on board.

Do airlines prefer hard or soft luggage?

There is no preference for hard or soft luggage by airlines. However, it’s easier for airline baggage handlers to organize and fit hard luggage on an airplane than soft luggage. Also, hard luggage tends to be more water resistance than soft luggage. This can help keep your belongings dry when your checked luggage is outside on the tarmac during rain or snow.

Can I bring a backpack and a carry-on?

Yes, you can bring a backpack and a carry-on on board an airplane depending. Most airlines will consider your backpack as a personal item, which is an extra piece of luggage you can bring onboard in addition to the carry-on. Of course, size restrictions can apply. Budget airlines may have more restrictions: check their baggage policy.

Can I have a phone charger in my hand luggage?

Yes, you can bring a phone charge in your hand luggage. Also, any portable chargers or electronics with a battery needs to come with you onboard as carry-on.

Can I bring keys on a plane?

Yes, you can bring your keys on the plane. It’s actually recommended in case your checked luggage becomes lost.

Does cabin baggage size include wheels?

Yes, the cabin baggage size does include wheels. The wheels can restrict or occupy space in the airplane cabin bins, therefore the size of the wheels need to be taken into consideration.

Can I bring two carry-on bags?

Most airline economy seats allow you to bring only one carry-on bag. But they often allow you to bring a personal item such as a purse or small backpack also. If you size your carry-on baggage accordingly, you can bring two onboard an airplane. Remember though, some budget airlines only allow a personal item with no free carry-on allowance.