Carry On Flying

May 3, 2019

If you’ve been losing sleep wondering, did she make it onto the flights with only carry-on? I’m happy to say that the answer is a triumphant yes! Even the dreaded bag-o-liquids made it through the security checks unquestioned. But like the old Carry On comedies of the 60’s, a sense of the ridiculous and a healthy dose of slapstick definitely helps when you’re trying to pack less than 25 lbs for 15 days.

My first concern was that dreaded little bag for liquids. How could I get all my creams etc. into that? The answer: by knowing exactly how much I’d need for those 15 days.

So, I started measuring everything I use in a day. In the shower, I squeezed shampoo into my palm, measured how much I’d squeezed, then used it to see if it was enough.  Did the same with the conditioner and shower gel. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but it worked. And I kept going.

At the sink, I measured cleansers, toners, face creams, body lotions, even that spray you use before blow drying your hair, and the creamy one afterward to keep the frizzies down. I counted every pump and put every fingerful into a measuring spoon, and when I was satisfied that the amount truly was enough, then I multiplied those amounts by 15 and put exactly that much into small containers with lids. The math went like this: 3 pumps of serum, twice a day = 6 pumps/day x 15 days = 90 pumps.  ¼ tsp of moisturizer, twice a day = ½ tsp x 15 days = 7.5 tsp, all of which went into little jars with lids.

Interestingly enough, after all that measuring, I now know that in a day, I need a lot less of all the products than I assumed. And it was a real lesson in the over-packaging of cosmetics and skin care. Those big jars really don’t hold all that much, so why cart that jar on a plane?

Once everything was measured and jarred or bottled, I dutifully labelled them because there was no way I would remember what was in each one. Then I squeezed all the jars and bottles into a  one-quart bag. Yes, it required some shaking, some juggling, a little swearing (ok, a lot of swearing) but eventually the zipper sealed, the bag held, and nothing leaked. The hardest part was getting the sucker into the small daypack without making the pack bulge and exceed the new depth requirements for on-board hand luggage.

I literally sat on it to make everything inside concede defeat and exhale.  Then I left the daypack on the large rolling backpack overnight to reduce the depth of the clothes in the large one. My method wasn’t as effective as one of those vacuum bags would have been, but they were such a pain when I tried them out on a weekend jaunt to the cottage that I stuck with the much more low-tech backpack-on-top compression method instead.

So far, my system has worked and on my next trip I won’t have to measure. I’ll just fill each jar and know that I’ll have enough. At least that is my theory. Will I actually run out days before the end of the trip? That remains to be seen.

As for clothes, having to meet the ever-shrinking size and weight criteria for carry-on meant that I couldn’t overpack, and I don’t know about you, but I usually take far too many ‘just in case’ clothes, and don’t end up using half of what’s in my bag.  So I planned on hand-washing my unmentionables until I reached the washing machine in Paris, and then pared down the wardrobe to the bare necessities: 2 pairs of jeans plus 1 pair black pants, 2 t-shirts, 2 tanks, 1 hoodie, 1 cardigan, 1 lighter/shorter cardigan, 2 scarves, 1 pair pjs, 1 short silky robe because it rolls up into nothing, 2 pairs of shoes (including the ones on my feet) and 1 pair of slippers. No dresses because I couldn’t find one that I liked. Apparently, this is going to be the summer of wide leg jumpsuits which fills me with horror. I wore those things when I was young and to this day, I have vivid memories of trying to get out of it in a tiny bathroom stall. Not my finest moment, which is why I left the jumpsuits on the racks and moved along, thinking I might find a dress in Paris. I’ve heard they have a few shops here and there.

In the final analysis, was there a distinct advantage to using only carry-on? For me, yes. Travelling solo, my main concern was being able to schlep everything on my own because one cannot always count on the kindness of strangers to carry your bag up the stairs for you – and in Europe, there are always stairs. Although one nice gentleman did carry my rolling pack up to the plane in Reykjavik, where they still bus you out on the tarmac so you can climb yet another staircase to the door.  It was all very Air Force One, and I really wanted to stop and wave at the top, but I kept it classy and merely nodded.


The other advantage to carry-on was not having to find the baggage carousels or watch one bag while waiting for another. There aren’t two sets of eyes on the luggage on this part of the trip, so I have to be aware of where my stuff is at all times, which is easier with 2 small bags.

So far, I’ve made it onto two flights without issue. Will I continue with carry-on for the entire trip? Probably not on the way home because, souvenirs. I have made promises to little people to bring back something gorgeous from Paris, something space-related from Iceland and something durable from Prague or Budapest, and it simply won’t cut it if I hand out cash instead of gifts when I get home.

At some point, I know my souvenirs will outgrow my carry-on. When that happens, I’ll check the bag and carry on, so to speak.

Next stop, Reykjavik and Vikings!

Cheers, Lynda 😊


4 thoughts on “Carry On Flying

  1. Yay! We’re you not tempted to forget about your cream routine? No bathing suits?
    Maybe chuck all your clothes at the end to bring home souvenirs.

    Have fun.

  2. Wow! Very informative on how to travel light. I learned lots. Have the best time ever, Lynda, and keep on writing. I’m traveling with you, in spirit. 🙂 And I’m having a blast, too.

  3. Woo hoo! I was waiting to hear how things went, especially in anticipation of our 3 weeks in Europe (and 4 total flights!) Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures – keep blogging!

Comments are closed.