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Looking to travel light on your next vacation? It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. Traveling light is especially important for those who are flying and want to save money on checked bags. So how can you do it? I’ve gathered some tips for the best advice for maximizing carry on luggage.

Should You Carry On for Your Entire Trip?

With all the stories about items being taken from checked bags or, even worse, bags being lost, many people have chosen to carry on while flying. The typical bag size is 26″, but some carry on bags are smaller at 22″. Choosing an expandable carry on can help you maximize your packing space.

Personally, if I choose to carry on, I carry on for my entire trip, but occasionally I check a bag coming home. I typically save my checked back for non-essential items, and I keep valuables and souvenirs with me in my carry on.

Carry On vs. Checked Bag

Yes, bags get mishandled and even lost. Yes, there are times when they are searched and things are stolen, but the number of times this happens is very low compared to the number of bags that are handled on a daily basis at any major airport.

The best advice when packing a checked bag is to ask yourself, “If I lost this would my trip be ruined?” If the answer is yes, then the item should be carried on.

What Should You Carry On?

Most of the items that fall into carry on status are the obvious items like cameras, jewelry, any type of hand-held gaming systems, medications, etc. I’d like to throw toiletries into the mix too, but this only applies if your items can fit the 3-1-1 rule.

3 ounces or less in a 1 quart zip top bag, and 1 bag per traveler are the current TSA rules. Otherwise check it and save yourself the hassle of holding up the boarding process and contending with the weight of your bag.

As an added bonus, if you can carry on an extra, folded bag in your bag, you’ll have more storage options. When traveling with kids, this is especially helpful if they get carried away purchasing souvenirs!

Roller Bag vs. Backpack or Duffel

Another tip concerning carry on luggage is choosing between a small suitcase or a backpack. Using a soft-sided bag might help you use the under seat area in front of you! Having essentials at arm’s length can be so convenient.

It saves you from stepping over your seat partner if you are in the middle or having something fall out when you attempt to open the overhead bin mid-flight. The area under the seat in front of you is actually a lot bigger than people suspect and helps leave room in the overhead for someone else’s overweight bag!

The Best Carry On Bags for Families

Finally, let’s talk about the all-important type of carry on bag. Should you choose hard or soft sided? Backpack or duffel? What about a rolling bag? The options are endless and often confusing.

Check your airline to determine what exact dimensions your bag needs to be to carry on. Requirements can change, especially after this past year. These are some of the best bags I’ve found for families who want to carry on:

Happy travels!