The Crazy Carry On Concept

June 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm (Sweet Nothings/Ramblings, Travel) (, , , )

Everyone that I have told about our plan has said that we are crazy. Travelling to Europe for five weeks with only carry on luggage. Hear me out – I’ve been to Europe as a teenager and had the huge hiking pack and a wheeled suitcase and it was a nightmare. Catching trains every few days meant that we had to lug everything up (what seemed like) thousands of stairs to get to the right platform. We arrived at each hostel grumpy and sweaty because of course it wasn’t walking distance from the train station as it had said on the website.

I want to wander around the streets of Rome and Barcelona without whinging about how much my back hurts or how the wheels of my suitcase aren’t coping with the cobblestones, and so the Carry On Concept was born.

We won’t have to worry about losing our checked in luggage and nowadays a lot of the airlines are even charging for suitcases! So I’ve been trawling the world wide web for tips on how we can successfully do this and this is a list of the best I’ve found:

  • Most airlines don’t count handbags in your carry on limit so grab a big one (something that a celebrity would put a dog in), pack your heavy stuff in there and pray they don’t weigh it. Don’t make it obvious that it is heavy by leaning to the side and groaning.
  • Wear the clothes that take up the most space on the flight, leaving more room in your luggage. Layering is a wonderful thing, meaning you can still be comfortable on a long haul journey. If you want to take boots, wear them on the flight.
  • Pack versatile items. Don’t pack a formal silk dress, instead perhaps a basic skirt and a light dressy top. The skirt can be worn dressed up or down which means you can wear it for a variety of occasions. Plan clothing so you get a number of possible outfits out of just a few pieces. Use accessories to jazz up your outfits as they don’t take up much space.
  • Be realistic. Will you NEED 2 pairs of heels or will one suffice (with a good pair of walking shoes)? Only pack the essentials.
  • Find inventive ways to roll your clothes up to cram them into your small bag. My mum has an interesting sock rolling technique that makes them into tiny balls.
  • Bring clothes that do not require ironing (believe me, you will never iron). Metalicus has some fabulous stuff.
  • If you want to do some shopping along the way (and who doesn’t?), put in a collapsible bag that you can check in as luggage on the return leg of your journey. I think this is what we might do, just in case.
  • Last time I went I bought so much stuff that I ended up leaving old clothing behind, so it might be a thought to pack clothes you wouldn’t mind parting with if you find too many must have items along the way.
What do you think of the Carry On Concept?    Would you try it?   
Any tips of your own?



  1. Marthe said,

    Interesting post! I went backpacking in Asia last year and I brought more than I really should have (my back, aww..)

    Just a few tips:

    When (or If) you fly with Ryan Air, they often count your purse as one item.

    If you plan on flying through London Stanstead, they actually weigh your carry on.

    Remember that you can’t bring liquids in containers bigger than 100ml and maximum 10 that you can fit into a small zip lock bag.

    Have a great trip!

  2. hollyjcurtis said,

    Wow! I salute you. I’m a chronic overpacker…
    Like Marthe, the only problem I can see is with the liquid restrictions on carry on bags – read: beauty products. Again, I’m a chronic product overpacker!

  3. Kara @ Destined For Now said,

    I like the idea of wearing heavy items, but if you wear those boots on the flight and leave no room for them in your luggage you should probably plan on wearing them every day.

    • Kimberley said,

      Oooh good point Kara. I think you’re right that you’d probably have to at least wear them whenever you’re travelling to a new place. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  4. Catherine Harry said,

    Well I know you can do it because I have! 3 years ago hubby, 4 kids and myself travelled around North America for 6 months with only carry on luggage! Sure we bought stuff along the way, but we just posted some stuff back and bought 3 suitcases to come home with. So you can definitely do it!!!!
    In fact we are going again later this year and will do the same!

    • Kelly Austin said,

      Oh Catherine I am so impressed!! Carry on with 4 kids and hubby!
      I am planning a trip next year and want to try this method.
      With the 3 suitcases you came home with did you buy stuff along the way or pick them up on the last leg? Wondering how long you just had carry on.
      And washing – how did you wash clothes etc? Sorry a million questions for you! But I am just so curious.

  5. Aimee said,

    My high school chemistry teacher always chaperoned our Europe trips. He was a big believer in packing the day’s socks and underwear in a ziplock bag. Once you’ve worn them, you stuff them back in the bag and put it in a separate compartment. With such a long journey, that strategy might not work, but packing the underwear and socks in ziplocks can be a space saver.

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