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Travel with only cabin baggage, it's easy!

Travel with only cabin baggage, it's easy!

4 Apr 2012 01:20:00

By Hairun Fahrudin Who said you should have to have a huge backpack when you travel? More and more people start using smaller backpacks which can be taken as hand-luggage aboard airplanes. If you know how, it is not difficult to do. Traveling light is not only for the experienced backpacker who does not need lots of stuff, but basically anyone can apply the idea of compact packing. Flying without any checked baggage has many advantages: besides saving money on baggage surcharges you reduce the risk of losing stuff and travelling becomes easier. Most low-cost airlines charge money for check-in baggage which can be quite substantial. Sometimes the baggage surcharge of a 20 kilo suitcase can be about the same as the price of a promo ticket itself. If you can avoid paying that surcharge, flying and traveling gets a lot cheaper. Since hand carry bags are always with you it is less likely to be lost, damaged or stolen and it's much easier to grab something when you need it. Also, another advantage is that you can avoid the queues at the baggage reclaim and can proceed directly to the exit. On most airlines and aircraft the maximum weight of cabin baggage is 7 kilos (on smaller turboprop aircraft this may be less, check the conditions of your ticket). So how can you reduce the weight of our baggage so it can be taken as cabin bag? Here are a few tips to consider.

Choose a medium-seized lightweight bag

A wheeled suitcase is quite handy but it should be avoided in this case because of the weight of the suitcase itself. You want to make maximum use of the 7 kilos so choose a bag which is lightweight and of medium size. Avoid taking a large backpack as it will tempt you to fill it with items you do not really need. We all have the strange urge to fill up a bag till it is completely full: "Hmm there is still some empty space here so I can take this nice hammock too.." It's understandable but you will end up with a heavy bag, therefore take a medium-sized backpack, the smaller the better actually as it will force you to choose only the things you really need. In my experience a 35 liter backpack is best to be taken as hand carry bag. In general the weight of a backpack of 35 liters will not exceed 7 kilos when filled with clothes, few books and some electronic equipment.

The 35 liter backpack that accompanies me on my traveling.

Prioritize on usability, not on fashion

Accessories such as vests, scarves and hats which do not have another function really than style and fashion should be taken of your list of items. Instead take items which are versatile and multi-functional: a sarong can be used as skirt, as a beach-towel and even as a hand-towel of needed. A bandana can be used as a handkerchief, hair tie, scarf and hat.

Leave things behind which are cheap and universally available

Another way to cut weight is to leave the things which are readily available at your destination and are cheap to buy. Things like food, towels, flip flops and body care products are potential candidates. Although these things are relatively small in size and weight itself, combined it can reduce the weight significantly. Also be aware that it is not allowed to carry sharp objects in the cabin of the airplane so you can not pack things like scissors or a pocket-knife. If you are really in need of these things you can buy it at your destination or ask at your hotel or a fellow traveler.

Use your pockets

Although there is always a maximum on the weight of your cabin bag, there is no limit on your body weight. Airlines are not allowed to measure your body weight, so try to fill your pockets with heavy items. Best to use a cargo pants that has many pockets of decent size. You can fill the pockets with for example books, a camera or even a 7-inch tablet computer. Also be aware to wear any thick jacket or sweater you want to bring alone as this also reduces the weight of your bag.

Separate liquids

Some may believe that it is not allowed to bring liquids in your carry-on bag but this is not the case. You are allowed to carry bottles of less than 100ml with a combined maximum of 1 liter. Best to combine these bottles in a small transparent bag and take them out of your bag before being x-rayed, to ensure an easy inspection by airport officers. See the foto below for an example of how to pack liquids as hand carry items.

Example of transparant bag with liquids to be taken as cabin baggage

Use laundry services

This may sound obvious but most people tend to see the need for more clothes for longer trips. Traveling for a long time does not also mean you have to bring lots of clothes. Here in Asia there are cheap laundry services anywhere and you can also wash clothes yourself in the sink and be hanged to dry in the bathroom.

Weigh your luggage

After you have packed do not forget to make sure the weight is within the limit. Budget airlines are becoming stricter with luggage weight and may force you to check it in after all and pay for the baggage fees if it is above their set limit. If you do not have a scale at hand, take your bag to a minimarket close by and ask the staff if you can use their scale to weigh your bag. I always do it this way and it is never a problem.

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