Packing · Uncategorized

Packing Strategy 5: Luggage Minimization


Welcome to our next installment of Packing Strategies! This week we’re addressing the fashion staple of the travel world… Luggage!

Now that we know how and what to pack, it’s very important to choose the right vessel. You want one that’s easy to pack, easy to access, easy to tote, and easy to heft into those overhead bins! Journey through time with me to the suitcases of yesteryear…

Who remembers these beauties?

My grandparents got these suitcases to go on their honeymoon in January 1954!

And my parents got a set similar to this (except brown and tan) when they got married in 1980:

Totally cool, right?

Each of these sets of suitcases were the best of the best in their day. Today we think we have it all figured out, but just remember, so did your parents and grandparents! To be honest, it really depends on your preference. I like to travel light, and I do not like to drag stuff behind me. Other people prefer to roll their luggage instead. Here’s a look at the things we use to lug our stuff from town to town, state to state, coast to coast, country to country, and continent to continent. What’s best for you?

1. Backpacks

This is my preferred packing pal. Backpacks are usually flexible, stuffable, and expandable. You can also wear one on the front and one on the back, like Steve and I usually do when what we need can’t fit into just one bag. You can move a lot faster than if you’re dragging a roller bag, and your hands are free to juggle your passport, boarding passes, coffee, ID, phone, and whatever else you need to have in your hands.

The backpack in the picture below also has two straps that secure it to your waist (and keeps the weight on your hips), and around your chest as well. Once you figure out exactly how to adjust them for your body (which took me a year!), it’s really helpful for your back. Stabilization is the key!


Samantha likes to participate for comparison’s sake. This backpack is stuffed tight!

Best things about this backpack: front pockets, side pockets, padding against my back, laptop compartment inside, and several compartments for pens, books, and any other little things I need to access. Oh, and it’s been going strong since 2004!

2. Duffles

This is the next best thing to a backpack because you can still wear it on your back, even without the straps around your waist and chest. You can put a duffle on your back, a backpack on your front, and you still have full use of your hands! It’s also nice to be able to distribute the weight on both the front and the back. No one likes to fall backward!

Added bonus: duffles and backpacks can squeeze into some small overhead bins on planes, trains, and automobiles. I’ve been permitted to keep my bags with me (always the goal) instead of surrendering them to many a flight crew! I’m not a fan of checking my bags, even plane side, because it slows me down, especially for tight connections! It’s easier to be flexible if your luggage is with you.

Photo taken at a hotel in Prague 2012. I’d been exploring Europe solo this way for over two weeks!

3. Roller Boards

It is my own opinion that roller boards are the worst. I always kick them when I roll them behind me, they are not flexible because of the hard case (and thus cannot fit into overhead bins on small planes), you have to be holding it with one hand at all times, and they are always heavier before you even pack them than a non-roller board. Some people need to be able to roll their bag instead of carry it, sure, but if you’re physically able to carry your luggage, I recommend doing it.

That said, if you want to check a bag or have to check it because of unallowable items (like liquids more than 3 ounces or that Swiss army knife you picked up as a souvenir in Zurich), this is definitely your best bet. Because they are more solid that a backpack or duffle bag, they will keep your luggage safe and secure. Have you seen the way luggage gets man-handled going to and from the plane? And what if your bag gets stuck on the bottom of a stack of 10? The harder bag will keep your valuables from getting smushed.

Steve’s old roller board, safely tucked away on the shelf in the closet!

So what are your luggage tips and tricks? What do you use to tote your stuff from one continent to the next? And be sure to check back next week for Packing Strategy 6: The Journey Home.

Packing Strategy 1: Roll with It!

Packing Strategy 2: Tetris Packing and an Element of Fun

Packing Strategy 3: Adventures in Toiletries

Packing Strategy 4: Accessorize, Prioritize

Packing Strategy 6: The Journey Home

5 thoughts on “Packing Strategy 5: Luggage Minimization

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