This past Thursday through Sunday I attended the Financial Blogger Conference in Denver and it allowed me to accomplish something I’ve never done before.
I didn’t do any public speaking or win any awards and I didn’t climb to the top of Pike’s Peak. No, my big win was that I packed light enough to skip the check-in counter and carry on my luggage.
Seriously. First time ever. I was so proud.
Carrying on luggage is a big time saver since you don’t have to check in at the gate before you leave or wait at the luggage carousels when you arrive. It also eliminates the prospect of lost luggage. And now, with most airlines charging fees to check bags, it can save money as well.
Here’s what helped me get the job done:
Start with the shoes.
Shoes are a huge roadblock to packing light. As women, we often have different shoes for different outfits. And men’s shoes are just plain big and bulky. If you can limit the shoes, you’ll be well on your way to one bag packing. I was able to get by with two pair of lightweight flats in the bag and a pair of tennis shoes on my feet.
One pair of bottoms for every two tops.
Instead of packing a different, complete outfit for every day, make each pair of jeans or pants or skirt do double duty by pairing it with with two or more different tops. I took one pair of jeans and one pair of capris, with two tops/sweaters to go with each.
If your hair can handle using the hotel-provided shampoo and conditioner, use those and leave your big bottles at home. If it can’t, pack travel-sized bottles of these two, along with travel-sized toothpaste, lotion, perfume, and whatever else you take.
And rather than traveling with full bottles of prescription or over-the-counter medication, put smaller amounts in pill boxes or even snack sized plastic bags. Every little bit counts when you’re packing to carry on.
Don’t try to cover every contingency.
Pack only the things you know you’ll use. If a need arises while you’re traveling, you can purchase it while there. Chances are you won’t have to.
I blame my need to pack like a ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ contestant on being a mom. Need a band-aid? Got it. A cough drop? Got those too. A snack, a drink, some entertainment? Check, check, and check. Something to write with, something to write on? Let me just look in my purse. But I wasn’t a mom traveling with small kids and I wasn’t traveling to a third world country, just to the next state over. I was safe leaving all that stuff at home.
Make your second carry-on an oversized one.
Make sure that the bag or purse you’re using for your second carry-on is a large one. Even if you plan to carry a small bag once you’re at your destination, put it inside the larger one and use the big bag to carry on anything that won’t fit in your main carry-on.
While you’re at it, downsize your wallet. I usually just need a driver’s license, credit card, health insurance card, and some cash when traveling. My big wallet with things like my library card and Petsmart customer loyalty card doesn’t need to make the trip. Neither do my keys or checkbook.
So my carry-on plan was successful, but it wasn’t perfect. Here are the things I now know to do next time:
Take a carry-on with wheels.
Tom actually suggested this and I ignored him. Big mistake. While that soft sided bag looked lightweight, it definitely wasn’t when full. And you don’t hand carry-ons off at the ticket counter, but lug them through security, to your gate, to the bathroom, to the Hudson News to buy trail mix, and everywhere else you go.
I knew all of this in my head of course, but somewhere around mile 10 of the Denver airport, it really began to sink in. When I got off the plane in Kansas City, I handed Tom my bag and kissed him hello in that order. My arms were about to fall off.
Leave a litte room for growth.
I didn’t buy anything on this trip, but I came back with some conference swag, including three books. Carrying on while going home was definitely trickier than while going. But at least it didn’t involve a trip to the UPS store, like last year’s conference trip did.
Do you carry on or check bags? Do you have any packing light tips to share?
This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday.