How to travel with only hand luggage, according to an expert

With record delays and lost baggage claims overwhelming Canadian airports, some travelers can look forward to lightening their loads and ditching checked bags in favor of carry-ons.

However, for those who are not naturally lightweight packers, switching to a streamlined pack could be a difficult transition. CTVNews.ca spoke to travel expert Jennifer Weatherhead, who says she hasn’t checked a bag at an airport for the past 12 years, for her advice on how to pack less for your vacation and be prepared for anything.

KNOW THE HAND BAGGAGE RULES FOR YOUR FLIGHT

The rules for carry-on baggage are not universal, and depending on the flight you take, you may be asked to check your luggage if it does not comply with the airline’s rules. For example, Air Canada allows travelers to bring carry-on baggage along with a “personal item” which can include a backpack, garment bag, handbag or shopping bag. Most airlines have measurement requirements that both hand luggage have to comply with. Some airlines, such as Flair, require passengers pay to carry hand luggage while a smaller personal item that can fit under a seat is free.

BOARD YOUR FLIGHT EARLY

Travelers should make an effort to buy tickets on the sections of the plane closest to the front if they want to load their bags faster, according to Weatherhead, though these can be more expensive. Due to limited space for hand luggage, there have been an increasing number of occasions where passengers have been asked to check their bags. According to Weatherhead, the easiest approach to avoid this is to board the plane earlier.

YOU DON’T NEED AS MANY SHOES AS YOU THINK

Weatherhead says the number one item passengers always overpack in their luggage is shoes. Along with oversized toiletries and extra clothing travelers will never wear.

“(The shoes) don’t fit in your suitcase very well and you can’t really fit things around them…so if you’re going to pack an extra pair, make sure it’s worth it,” she says.

Weatherhead recommends planning each day of your trip to make sure you don’t pack clothes or products you don’t need. It’s also helpful, she says, to pack a backpack first and see if she can fit everything in there before moving on to her suitcase.

‘CUBE’ YOUR ITEMS WHILE YOU PACK

Increasingly, the most sensible way to pack seems to be to section or “cube” your items, says Weatherhead. This could mean rolling up and placing clothes in a small cloth bag before packing, or placing all essential items in sealed reusable bags before packing. The idea is that this will “compress” all of your items and take up less space, according to Weatherhead, and lead to a more compact packaging system.

CHECK IF YOU WILL HAVE LAUNDRY SERVICE DURING YOUR TRIP

Many Airbnbs have in-house washers and dryers, and many hotels offer laundry services or are often close to them. Weatherhead recommends packing clothing that can be easily washed and reused, and keeping heavy, fancy clothing to a minimum. Choose breathable fabrics that dry faster than cotton and take up less space in your suitcase, she says.

CHANGE YOUR DAILY PRODUCTS FOR MORE COMPACT OTHERS

Toiletries always end up taking up a lot of space in your bag, and very often, oversized bottles aren’t really necessary for any trip under two weeks, Weatherhead says. Not to mention, most flights don’t allow items weighing 3.4 ounces or more.

Weatherhead recommends going through your toiletries and eliminating the ones you don’t use every day, along with your makeup products, and making sure they can all fit into one bag.

“I think once you continue, you won’t be able to go back. You’ll feel so much better having all your stuff with you,” she says.

“And the more you try, the better you will do.”

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