2 Secrets to Packing Light for Carry-on Travel

NPR Spotlights Carry-on Expert Doug Dyment

Doug Dyment, travel blogger for Onebag.com was interviewed by NPR News’ Announcer Michelle Norris on the radio show "All Things Considered." Michelle asked Doug about his secrets to traveling light using a single carry-on bag. Doug also reveals his preferences for the ideal airline travel bag.

Whether it’s for leisure or business travel, these useful tips can help any airline traveler save money and save time. By avoiding the checked baggage lines, travelers can use this time and money for enjoying their trip.

NPR – WHAT’S THE SECRET TO PACKING LIGHT?

Doug – The Master List – if it’s not on your list, it shouldn’t go in your bag. Most people pack the night before and what happens is they end up talking to themselves and saying, "Well I might need this and I might need that, what if so and so invites me to dinner?" And that’s death to light packing. Well in advance of your trip you should have thought what your list looks like. Have it all written down and check it off as you go.

Take half as much clothing and twice as much money as you think you might need. There are 2 things known as "tricks" to packing travel items in 1 bag.

  • Don’t let any spaces go unused.

Example 1: If you’re packing a pair of running shoes, don’t let the space inside the shoes go unused.

Example 2: Lay a shirt flat on your bed, then placing this "bundle" (such as your organizer pouch or Toiletry Kit) where your chest would go, then wrapping the sleeves gently around the bundle. Then bring the bottom up around the top.

NPR – WHAT ABOUT SHOES

Doug – Shoes take up a lot of space. They are the single bulkiest item to travel with.

  • The secret is not to take too many shoes.

Limit the number of shoes to 2 pairs of shoes.

Example: Today, for business travel, you can buy shoes that are quite dressy looking, yet the internal construction is more like a high quality running shoe. For the ladies, try a pair of low heels and a pair of dressy "strappy" kind of sandals. If it’s cold weather, a pair of boots with low heels instead of the sandals.

 

NPR – WHAT KIND OF A BAG DO YOU RECOMMEND?

Doug - It’s more of what kind of bag I

don’t

recommend. I don’t recommend rolling bags with wheels on them. They’re a huge compromise in design. Lots of rigidity (goes into the construction) in the bag. There’s lots of extra (wasted) space necessary to hold the mechanism for the wheels. More stuff to break on the bag. Lots of additional weight. A bag with wheels compared to a bag nearly identical size bag is more than 3 times as heavy and you can lose up to a third, sometimes a half of your packing space.

So you’re paying triple the weight penalty for those wheels that you can only use in nice corridors in airports and hotels. Then the minute you get out in the real world and encounter cobble streets, cracks, bumps, unpleasant organic materials in the streets of say, Paris, you won’t be so keen on the wheels. Let alone the stairs you’ll have to navigate in Hotels and Lobbies.

I like a soft sided bag because it’s conformable to the spaces I’m likely to have to stick it in an airplane. I like a very well made bag, one with high quality zippers. Zippers are the main point of failure in luggage. I want a rectilinear bag, a bag as much like a box as possible. That is, I don’t want a bag with lots of stylish curved surfaces on it. I like a bag that gives the most amount of storage space for the least amount of exterior dimensions.

If it’s going to be a leisure trip and I’m going to be off the beaten path, I’d prefer a bag with a shoulder strap, kind of like a backpack (or messenger bag). That way it’s hanging off my shoulder if I have to walk for a mile or 2.

The big deal is:

  • You want rectilinear
  • You want softsides
  • You want high quality materials

Many thanks to Doug Dyment and NPR for the information provided in this article.

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