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Carry On Only

February 9th, 2016 at 05:36 pm

I'm starting to think about our upcoming trips (and there are THREE which is completely over the top for us!).

February - trip to Phoenix (weekend)
March - spring break in LA at my parents' house
June/July - the BIG trip to see D's family in the UK and add-on trip to Croatia

I'm thinking about it this far in advance partly because the two smaller trips are practice for our luggage on the UK trip. You see, we are flying Ryanair from the UK to Croatia (well, actually to Italy) and back.

Have you flown Ryanair? It's the crazy-cheap-but-not-so-nice airline that charges for everything. There's even an I Hate Ryanair website. For the record: I don't. But that's because we adhere to the rules pretty religiously.

In exchange for our low fares, this is what we signed up for:
- no food (who needs food on a two hour flight? we bring our own anyway!)
- not the most comfortable seats (who needs headrests? I am too short for them anyway)
- no legroom (as I mentioned, I'm short, and my husband isn't that tall either, and my daughter isn't even my height yet)
- super high fee for checked bags (but we are NOT checking bags)
- there's a fee if you don't print your boarding pass ahead of time (but why wouldn't you just print it out?)
- if you're American, you have to do a passport check before you go through security or they won't let you on the flight (this is one rule you just have to know)

Did I mention that we don't check bags? (We have, but only if there are extenuating circumstances). This is due to a lot of reasons (Ryanair's fees, checked bags get lost, the less luggage you have the easier it is to get around on public transport). We each get a backpack with no wheels and a small daypack that folds up and can be shoved inside the backpack but can be under our seats on the plane to provide entertainment, a sweater, a toothbrush, warm socks.

Ryanair has more restrictive luggage allowances than most airlines, so we need to meet their restrictions. You used to get just one free cabin bag ‚Äč55x40x20 cm (about 21.5 x 15.75 x 7.75). That's smaller than other airlines, and their sizing includes wheels. They're undergoing an image change to improve their reputation and now you also get a personal item 35x20x20 cm (that's a weird shape).

Now that F is older, she can carry her own bag and won't need wheels like our last UK trip two years ago, so these two trips are practice for us. I'm not sure how much she can carry and for how long.

My bag isn't huge, but probably too big for her. But it's really light (1.5 lb) and inexpensive ($30) so I'm wondering if it's a good idea to get her one and use compression straps so it stays tight and small. It's the Campmor Essential Carry-On... it's my favorite bag (it's only lacking those compression straps).

Alternative is one of my old backpacks. I need to weigh them.

I want to note that the restriction for Ryanair is 10 kg (22 lbs) which is more than I will carry and way more than F could carry anyway, so I'm sort of ignoring that.

Do you travel carry on only? If so, what are your reasons? Does frugality factor in?

9 Responses to “Carry On Only”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I haven't traveled internationally, but I can get somewhere with one carry on and a personal item. No issues at all. It is tight packing, but reducing shoes helps a lot. I also usually wear the same outfit on the days of flying. I'm also not against needing to do laundry if needed! We do fly Southwest sometimes, so if I can check for free I will. Otherwise, yes, I avoid checking a bag for the savings.

  2. snafu Says:

    We fly extensively, usually SE Asia and USA, with an under seat sized back pack, a purse whose strap removes and functions as an actual belt for it's back tab and allowable carry-on rollerboard. DH and I agreed long ago that we would each be responsible for our own baggage and that's all I can manage. Using 'capsule' wardrobe principles requires fewer garments. When they restricted size of grooming products it saves space but I've had to buy local products if we stay 4 months. {I use shampoo to wash items]. If you need dress clothes, a compression bag is useful. You can always find/borrow a vacuum or add the small tube-like gizmo that pumps out air. DH has a black sports bag that folds into it's own pocket and functions as a day pack, picnic bag or extra, actual suitcase should we actually need it.

  3. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Try to make your clothes as lightweight as possible, and if you roll them up it creates more room, so you can fit more things in, and if you have a jacket wear it on the plane; these tips have always helped me out.

  4. pjmama Says:

    I've never traveled on Ryanair, but I know plenty of people who have and nobody I've met has had any nightmare experiences. I think for a trip that short, being a tiny bit uncomfortable is well worth the savings. We also never check baggage, but I live for my rolling carry-on. Makes those unexpected runs from one end of the airport to the other so much easier Wink I also agree with VS-ozgirl - the more lightweight you can get, the better. And definitely wear your most bulky jacket and/or shoes on the plane to make room, and avoid bringing more than one additional pair. I also use a rather large bag as my "personal item." haha. Gotta game the system!

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    We switched to carry on when the airlines started charging a crapload for checked baggage. That said, overall it is nicer not to wait at baggage claim and to worry about checked luggage. I don't think it's a bad shift. (Except for fighting for overhead space). We mostly also travel with small kids and to hot destinations so it's not like our clothing takes up much room. (We might sneak some of our stuff with the kids' tiny clothes). I don't know that we have traveled anywhere cold since the airline changes. But I am sure we could make it work. I think it's easier to pack light with technology like e-readers. We used to really pack a lot of books when we vacationed.

  6. creditcardfree Says:

    I need to get a large bag for my personal item. My purse isn't that big, yet I try to stuff a water bottle and a book in there when we are flying.

  7. CB in the City Says:

    Their rules sound a lot like Allegiant, which I just used for my Florida trip. I had one carry-on bag, pre-printed my boarding pass, and did without food or drink for the 2-hour flight. For that, I got a very good overall price. If I had it to do over again, I would use a bigger carry-on (since I noticed that many fellow travelers carried larger bags than I did) and I would have brought my Lug bag instead of my purse to serve as a personal item. It's much more roomy and would have fit under the seat just fine.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    I'm a cheap flyer. I bought a new carry-on specifically for these kinds of trips last year although I don't find it easy. I do need a bigger purse/bag for the personal one. I like EasyJet here better than RyanAir, but my DH hates the cheap airlines. I guess it's good that I go far more than him.

  9. Buendia Says:

    I second the tips everyone provided! I've been flying carry-on only (domestically and internationally) for about 20 years, and I've used a lot of different bags. My tips are:
    - packing cubes!
    - wear largest items
    - lightweight easy to pull out plane bag for under the seat with a few sodukus printed out, etc. so the big bag goes in the overhead
    - eagle creek pack-it silm kit for toiletries (it's small and folds flat but still hangs) - I don't take many toiletries
    - my packing list is streamlined - 3 shoes, 1 shorts, 2 capris, 1 stretchy jeans, 1 skirt, long leggings for the plane, 3 cardis, 2 tanks, 1 dress, 5 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve and a 3/4 sleeve tunic. I vary sleeve and bottom length by weather.
    - books on my phone (no kindle or ipad)
    - no camera (phone is my camera)
    - small baggallini purse is my other item but it fits in the packable daypack inside my bag.

    I love my bag (Campmor Essential Carry On) but it has some problems (no good place for 3-1-1 and boarding passes, no compression straps, no convenient easy-pullout place for my lightweight daypack), and I am going to try a different bag (Ebags Etech 2.0 Weekender Junior). So we'll see how that goes.

    PS I like easyjet better, too... sigh... it never goes where we want and Ryanair always does...
    PPS - I totally agree that carry on is better even without the restrictions; I do carry on only on Southwest, too, and every other airline... I like to be quick and mobile!

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