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For as long as I have been traveling, I have always checked my luggage. With budget airlines, sometimes it is cheaper to check your bags than to carry them onto the plane. But, carrying on your luggage allows you to skip the airline counter and baggage claim, saving a lot of time. When traveling from city to city in Europe, a large checked suitcase can be too difficult to maneuver over the cobblestone-lined hills. For our trip this past summer, I learned how to get by with only a carry-on bag and I want to share what I learned along the way.

  1. Plan to do laundry. Going carry-on only means bringing less clothing so if you are going to be gone for more than a few days, you will need to wash your clothes. Pick lodging that has laundry facilities or plan to find a laundromat. I recently discovered washer sheets that allow you to bring laundry detergent with you without taking up a lot of space in your bag.
  2. Pack light. This can be very hard if you are an overpacker like me. Pack a few outfits that you can mix and match and versatile shoes. I found this packing list that was very helpful for me for our Europe trip.
  3. Use Packing Cubes. I really didn’t think these would make much of a difference until I got some and they are a game changer and they keep your suitcase organized.
  4. Limit the liquids. Honestly, this is the hardest part for me. A lot of the basics like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are provided by hotels and rentals and a lot of toiletries can be found in solid now: deodorant, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, dry shampoo, and even toothpaste. This Refillable Toiletry Kit has helped me get more liquids into the 1-quart bag that TSA allows. Other things like sunscreen can be purchased at your destination and if you have any leftover at the end of your trip if you are staying at a vacation rental, you can leave it behind for the next guests.

Woman walking with carry-on suitcase

Learning to travel with only a carry-on bag adds flexibility to your travel and gives you extra time on your travel days. If you are checked-bag person like me, I suggest you try going carry-on only on your next trip and let me know how it goes! I want to hear from you, are you a carry-on only or a checked-bag traveler? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. To read campground reviews check out my Michigan Campground Reviews page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.