The last time I travelled with checked baggage was on my honeymoon. It was late July and we arrived in Amsterdam with the positive intention of walking to our hotel with our suitcases. Mine was old, and battered, and I didn’t realise until that point that the wheel base had crumbled, meaning I was dragging it along the cobblestones rather than gently wheeling it along. I was hot, tired from the amazing weekend we’d just had, and fed up. From memory Seb ended up having to drag both 20kg suitcases over a mile from the train station to the hotel, and we started our honeymoon and married life with a spectacular row about my stupid suitcase.

I vowed never to travel with a suitcase again.

I’ve now had to break that promise, as moving to China has meant I’ve needed to take more than just the bare essentials. Even though I have a shiny new suitcase I was cursing it before I even got to the airport because it’s heavy and it’s bulky and it’s annoying to have to anxiously wait for luggage when you arrive at your destination. Luckily I don’t have to take it much further now, and I can’t wait until we get to our apartment and I can hide the damn thing under the bed for the rest of the year.

From a previous post: our suitcases- and the bags on our bag are what we usually take!
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From a previous post: our suitcases- and the bags on our bag are what we usually take!

We have had a few laughs since arriving in Thailand- the staff are so sweet that they insist on helping you with your bags, only to immediately regret it once they realise they have to drag 30kg up 4 flights of stairs. Those first few minutes on arrival filled with

“sorry!” – “it’s okay!” – “sorry!”  “oh, it’s heavy! Very heavy!” – “sorry!”

but in your defence you did tell them you would carry it.

I want to wear a sign saying “I’m moving to another Country!” just so that everyone knows I have a reason for being that person who doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing, but perhaps I’m just being paranoid that people are looking at me when they’re actually far too busy getting on with their own lives to judge my choice of luggage.

Our hotel room in Chiang Mai is… modest, and our bags are currently positioned so that mine blocks the front door and the bathroom, and Seb’s causes us to have to climb on the bed rather than walk round it. I’m really starting to question our logic at bringing this stuff with us!

I just think travelling with carry-on is so much better, and I’m going to tell you why.

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     1. Freedom

With just a small bag on your back, you can go anywhere and do anything without needing to worry about your possessions. If you want to, you can carry everything you own around with you all the time because it hardly weighs anything. It also takes just a few minutes to pack up and leave when you want to hit the road again. You can jump into a taxi or tuk tuk and sling your bag right in beside you.

 

2. Money

As budget travellers we like to save money wherever we can. We’ve been badly stung with extra luggage fees on this leg of our journey, whereas usually we can take advantage of the cheapest flight offers without having to worry about adding extra for a bag. That £9 flight from Krabi to Bangkok? It’ll cost you triple if you want to add checked luggage. It might not seem like much but those extras really add up, and on long haul flights the costs can be huge.

This cost us £1 each- I'd rather have 21 meals than 1 piece of checked baggage!
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This cost us £1 each- I’d rather have 21 meals than 1 piece of checked baggage!

 

 3. You appreciate the essentials

When you only have a carry-on bag to fill, you’re only going to put things in it that you really need. Hairdryer? Most accommodations will have one. A pair of heels? You won’t wear them. 20 pairs of underwear? Believe it or not you can wash your clothes in other Countries too! I don’t mean to sound condescending, but it really is amazing what you don’t need whilst travelling. Also, toiletries are so much cheaper in developing Countries so you don’t need to stock up before you leave.

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Needless to say, when we get to China I’ll be switching straight back to a carry-on backpack. There’s a lot of choice on the market now for bags you can use but Seb and I have chosen the Osprey Transporter 40. I like it because it opens up like a suitcase for easy access, it has lots of pockets for storing extras, and it converts into a duffel bag as well as folds away neatly whenever you need it too. The only downfall is that there isn’t any padding on the shoulders so it can get uncomfortable, but if it gets too bad I’ll just add some cushioning to it.

 

For comparison, when I travelled to South-East Asia in 2014 I took an 80L backpack. Same story as before- I hated it, I didn’t use half of it, and to top it off I looked like a giant turtle (note my ‘extra’ backpack on the floor as well…)!

Terrible photo of me- but note the turtle backpack!
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Terrible photo of me- but here is the turtle backpack!

Do you like to travel with just carry-on as well? Let us know below!

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