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Believe it or not, it IS possible to travel light, and when you learn to do it, you won’t ever want to drag a second suitcase again!

We grew into our traveling light lifestyle out of necessity. My wife is an airline employee for one of the legacy airlines which allows us to travel further and more frequently than many average middle-class families. (Before you get visions of $0.00 signs, it’s NOT that and while it may seem idyllic, it also comes with other ‘perks’ … see below). Here’s the deal:  yes, we pay less than the average traveler, but no, we do not have the luxury of confirmed seating; we fly standby, meaning that if there are available seats – we fly, if not, we sit… in the airport… for hours and sometimes days.

  • We’ve had to spend an extra night in Sicily & Ottawa, an extra trip to and night in Toronto during the height of the SARS epidemic,  three extra nights in Paris (think “ensuing hotel and meal expenses… when a baguette and espresso at Charles de Gaulle can run you about $18).
  • We’ve had to manage anxious and tired children in Orlando, Brussels and London-Heathrow as flight after flight left without us (think: in and out of security, shoes off, belts off, sweaters & teddy bears stowed).
  • One time my 4yr-old and I had the last two seats on a Paris-bound flight when the 2 stragglers arrived and we had to deplane.
  • oh yes… the three days extra in Paris ended only as with the purchase of full-fare tickets in first class (as full fare ‘regular’ passengers were also standing by… Think: over $3,000)

But I digress.

All that was just to establish the fact that while standby travel may seem awfully nice, it has its drawbacks as well. That being said though, you will appreciate that, if you’re not sure whether or not you’re getting on the flight, having to factor in “Did my bags make the flight?” or not and “Did my bags get OFF the flight when I didn’t get on?” would push anxiety to the next level.

Solution: travel exclusively with carry-on baggage. That way whether you make the flight or not, you always have all your items with you. We have traveled to the following places with only carry-on baggage:

  • Australia (12 days)
  • Argentina (11 days)
  • Romania (7 days)
  • Belgium (several times 1 week)
  • Sicily (10 days)
  • France (3 weeks + 2x 2 weeks – where I did a few teaching sessions requiring 2 suits. One of those 2week stints FOLLOWED the week in Romania)
  • Florida (2x 1 week)

Granted, most of that traveling was to relatively moderate climates at warmer times of year (I have no experience with extended trips to northern climates with only carry-on). It’s also akin to the one month I spent cycling around southern Europe with only saddle-bags… but that too is for another time.

IMG_6243It’s enough to say that it’s extremely easy to travel light. This is a photo of my son standing beside our luggage in Paddington Station (London, UK) when he was six years old. We each had a small suitcase and a back-pack for 2 weeks in Europe.

How do we do it?
I’ll save details for another post since I got carried away telling anecdotes in this one.

’til next time…