Frugalfirstclasstravel means traveling light. Unless you can afford to never have to lift, carry or manage your own bag you need a small, easy to maneouvre bag. There is definitely nothing First Class about wrestling with big, heavy bags and waiting forever at the luggage carousel for your bag to appear. If you can manage with an international size carry on bag only you will find that you can travel cheaper, easier and more freely – and isn’t freedom what travel is all about?
Impossible, I hear you say, but it’s actually quite easy if you are prepared to plan ahead and apply some self discipline. It might seem extremely painful at the time, but you will love it so much when you get that bag on and off the train, fit all your luggage into a small hatchback (at half the rental cost and petrol bills), or have to take your bag up a long steep flight of stairs.
So, this is my strategy for the perfect frugalfirstclasstravel One Carry On Bag Only Trip:
1. Stick to a consistent colour palette for your clothes and make sure everything you pack goes with almost everything else. You do not have the luxury of packing separate outfits that can’t be mixed and matched into other outfits. Darker colours and patterns need less washing.
2. I like to take old clothes away and discard them progressively during my trip. This is the easiest way to make space in your bag for your souvenirs and other shopping. As soon as I know when I am travelling and where I am going, I start putting aside older, suitable clothes that would otherwise go to the charity bin.
3. You can make your travel wardrobe wear better for longer by hanging things in the wardrobe. It’s also cheap luxury to not have to rummage in the suitcase every morning.
4. You only need two pairs of shoes!! (that means you too men!) This includes what you wear on the plane. Make them classy, comfortable and sensible and they will take you everywhere. If you are travelling around a lot as part of your trip, leave the heels at home – your feet and your luggage will thank you.
5. Thermals. Unless I’m going somewhere where I know the weather will be reliably warm I always pack a thermal long sleeved top. The great advantage of this is that you don’t need to pack a jumper “just in case”, which are often heavy and definitely take up a lot of your precious carry on bag space.
6. While we are talking about jumpers, do leave the fleeces and thick jumpers at home. If you layer with thermals, long sleeved tops and lighter weight jumpers you will have far more flexibility in your wardrobe. If it warms up a bit you can easily shed layers, and you’ve actually got more items to pick your outfit from each day – you should easily be able to fit in 4 separate items in the same space one thick jumper or fleece takes.
7. Another good thing to leave at home are your jeans – they are heavy, take up a lot of valuable bag space and if they get wet take ages to dry. Pack lighter weight high tech synthetics or wool/wool mixes instead.
8. Most of the best things I take travelling with me came from a camping shop – and I am definitely no camper! I have the lightest folding umbrella imaginable that came from a camping shop. It is also small enough to pack into a small handbag so I can take it everyday with me if need be. My very favorite toilet bag also came from a camping shop. It is incredibly light and squashy and actually fits far more into it than any glamorous number I have ever owned. In winter I never take an overcoat – they are too heavy, bulky and hopeless if they get wet. Instead I have a three quarter length down coat that I bought for half price at an end of winter sale from a camping and outdoor shop! I never feel out of place anywhere in Europe in this coat in the winter.
9. Do stick to airline limits for your liquids even if you do want to check in your small bag. It’s just a great, easy way to save space and weight in your bag. Most brands are available wherever you travel, and if not, it is always an opportunity to seek out a little extra local colour by hunting out the perfect toothpaste or shampoo.
10. Finally, there really is no need to take a laptop. Even the cheapest hotels these days will have a computer for guests – and indeed it is often the cheapest hotels that don’t charge for this luxury. Take a tablet computer if you want your own personal device – lighter, easier to pack, and really probably handier with all the apps.
Travelling with one small carry on bag will change your life and liberate your travel, so make the effort and do it!