How to travel with only carry-on baggage

Travelling with just carry on baggage? Here’s how to get more baggage for your buck.

How to travel with only carry-on baggage

In this day and age, it is somewhat decadent to fly with checked luggage. Sure, it is often still necessary, but if you’re taking a short trip then carry-on should really suffice.

But while that’s all well and good in theory, putting a week’s worth of clothing, shoes and essentials into hand luggage can often feel playing a game of Tetris. I recently found myself in this exact situation, when heading to a wedding in France that required a formal outfit and high heels – promptly followed by a week in Italy that required sneakers and swimwear. Challenging to say the least!

Flying with Easyjet, checked luggage would have cost me more than £60 on all three flights. The other deterrent for taking a suitcase was the thought of having to lug it all over the countryside – a task that had me tired just thinking about it.

Then I remembered there was a solution to my problem. Unlike airlines back in Australia, Easyjet and many other budget international carriers only allow you to have one piece of carry-on, expecting you to fit any additional handbags or personal belongings into the one main bag.

older female traveller waits for her plane

Enter a little known work-around. Easyjet allows you the option of choosing your seats when you check-in online or when you book your ticket. For ‘up front’ seats or exit row seats you pay a small fee additional fee, which not only provides you with a superior seat, but it increases your baggage allowance to include an extra piece of carry-on, such as a handbag or laptop bag. Other benefits included dedicated bag drop and speedy boarding so you can board first and claim your overhead locker space (ensuring it’s not placed in the cargo hold due to overcrowding).

By opting to choose my seat on all three flights I managed to complete my circa 10 day trip with only my carry on suitcase and a handbag. Using this insider trick cost me about £30 all up, half the price of checked luggage and without the hassle. I did still have to wear my heels on-board though – a sight that amused my friends no end.

While Jetstar is yet to offer such an alternative, Tigerair has its version of the above offer, called Cabin+. This allows you to boost your carry-on baggage from 7kg to 12kg. Let’s hope the other budget carriers follow suit soon too.

What’s your advice for staying within baggage restrictions?


    SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her travel low point was buying a Beijing guidebook for her visit to Thailand in 2007. Thankfully her geography has improved since then.


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    26th Aug 2016
    I have no idea why people want to cram everything into a carry on bag. When I go on holidays I dont want to live in one or two outfits the whole time. I want to enjoy my holiday. I only take a medium size bag which is checked in and I take a carry on bag with my handbag inside it. I do not mind waiting to collect my bag and am not worried about paying a little extra. I always travel on full service aircraft. To each their own but that is the way I prefer it.

    27th Aug 2016
    I'd like to see the airlines charge more for carry-on luggage. Every piece you take, and the bigger and heavier it is, makes life less pleasant for other passengers.
    27th Aug 2016
    Hand luggage normally has size and weight limits.
    Some small budget airlines don't even have enough overhead storage for one standard airline bag for each passenger.
    Happy traveller
    27th Aug 2016
    My opinion is that the locker space above your seat should be for small carry on luggage not the bulky things I have seen some people trying to stuff in to the detriment of fellow travellers. I often see people with no room above them due to selfish people with far too much bulky stuff forcing them to find another space above someone else which in turn disrupts that person. So you may have to wait a bit at your destination for your checked luggage but at least your clothes are not all squished up in a cabin bag and more importantly you have not disrupted your fellow passengers by forcing a bulky bag in to an overhead locker and standing and blocking the aisle for ages whilst doing it.
    27th Aug 2016
    Tigerair may allow heavier hand luggage but their service is less reliable.
    They are more likely to cancel flights than Jetstar too.
    27th Aug 2016
    since weight has such a big impact on running costs due to fuel usage I think airlines should weigh passengers and luggage together. A per kilo price on flights seems a much fairer way of charging and those people who spill into the seat next to them would be paying for 1 and a half seats while the poor buggers beside them would only pay for the part seat they are actually squeezed into.
    27th Aug 2016
    7:11pm's not fair that some passengers take up so much space. Make the air fare relevant to an individuals size, some may object but so be.

    Another gripe...the ridiculous amount of carry on luggage some passengers inflict upon others.
    27th Aug 2016
    Hear hear.
    27th Aug 2016
    Have long been of the same opinion, aussierules. Passengers should definitely be weighed with all their luggage and charged excess accordingly.
    27th Aug 2016
    Hear hear. make the overweight pay more.
    I know, it's not their fault!
    27th Aug 2016
    Sorry about incorrect name spelling ozirules - get carried away sometimes!
    27th Aug 2016
    Do you think weighing passengers would act as an incentive for overweight people to lose weight. I doubt it. Yes recently I sat next to a large gentleman and it was so uncomfortable I asked to be moved. The diplomatic flight attendant moved him up the front giving myself and the window passenger more room. Having worked in the airline industry the plane goes on overall load control. Once upon a time if the flight wasn't full they wouldn't charge excess baggage but now days its all about the dollars and I recently paid $30 excess as the destinations I went to warranted summer and winter clothes (plus I bought presents for my friends).

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