Monday, May 27, 2024

Keep calm and carry on: how Australians can have a hand luggage holiday – with kids or long haul

You may have thought about a hand luggage-only vacation if you’ve watched other people’s bags clunk onto the carousel at…

By Chan , in Travel , at February 29, 2024

You may have thought about a hand luggage-only vacation if you’ve watched other people’s bags clunk onto the carousel at the airport before realizing – with another thud- that yours wasn’t among them.

According to SITA, a transport IT company, 2021 saw a 24% increase in airlines “mishandling” luggage – meaning lost or delayed – compared with 2020. SITA, a transport IT company, reports that 2021 saw a rise of 24% in “mishandling” luggage by airlines – meaning lost and delayed – as compared to 2020. And 2022 is looking even worse.

A baggage handler said to Guardian Australia that one out of 10 bags this month did not make it onto Qantas domestic flights.

Is it possible to travel for a long time using only your carry-on luggage? David Clark, a former magazine editor and designer, believes that it is possible. He took a three-month round-the-world trip in 2008 to 17 cities across Europe and Asia, as well as both Americas. Everything he needed was packed into his trusty carry-on.

Clark begins by describing the bag. It was a soft backpack with wheels that I had checked with each airline to ensure it met their requirements.

Every carry-on luggage evangelist will tell you that this is the most important step. It’s more important than color-coordinated clothes or fancy packing methods.

It will not only ensure a smooth check-in but also help you maximize the space available in your cabin. Kirsty Lusc, Australian Country Manager for Scoot’s budget international airline, says that Scoot allows two pieces of luggage weighing up to 10kg. Qantas domestic economy allows two pieces totaling 14kg while Virgin limits things to 7kg.

Ann Vodicka is a stylist, former Qantas cabin service manager, and now works for Image Confidence. She has a hanging hook scale in her home and weighs all of her luggage before leaving the house.

Clark went to the local adventure shop and bought New Zealand wool climbing clothing in blue basic T-shirts. Zipper tops and hoodies.

They’re designed to wick moisture away so that you don’t get an odor. “You can wash them on the move in a sink,” he says. He added jeans, dress pants, and a jacket for the evening, but his best trick was sticking to just one pair of shoes.

“I wore only these beautiful, black leather shoes. I didn’t wear any other footwear. I wore them for climbing mountains outside Rome and swimming in water in Buenos Aires. “I could then wear them to dinner.”

Vodicka also has strict limits on the number of items she can take with her. She says that if you bring three bottoms, two pairs of shoes, and five tops, you can create 30 different outfits.

She recommends folding items in the space-saving Konmari way – neat little rectangular shapes – then buying a small sprayer that you can use to spritz wrinkle-free clothes.

Another trick? She says: “Decant all your toiletries in small containers. Muji makes great travel bottles.” You can then be certain that your cleansers and moisturizers will not exceed the airline’s restrictions on liquids or aerosols. These can be as small as 100ml.

Jessica Mostogl says that it’s possible to avoid the baggage carousel with children and only take carry-on luggage. She regularly travels with her three sons, aged 7, 4, and 8 months, with just a carry-on. She says always to buy the things you need once you arrive.

She says, “Get all your snacks, diapers and formula from the supermarket at your destination.” Check if the accommodation you are staying in has a washer. You can reduce the amount of clothing for your children by half if you have a washing machine.


Vodicka says that what you leave behind is more important than the things you bring. You can train yourself to get rid of that annoying voice that whispers “What if?” or “Just in case” at overpackers.

She says that unless you are going to a remote place and need something, you can buy it. “Just get away from your fear.”

Clark says that once you’ve done this, you can embrace the freedom. He says that nothing feels better than leaving the house with just a few clothes and your passport.

You could march smugly by all the people who are thumping their fingers on the baggage carousel.