What type of traveller are you?

Are you the one that agonises over your travel outfits, pulls out the biggest suitcase, fills it up with all your favourite dresses, tops, trousers, scarves and 20 pairs of shoes for a week’s holiday and then only wears two outfits the whole time?

The airlines love you, and they love charging you extra for things you did not need in the first place!

Or are you the one that has a small carry-on with two outfits and two pairs of shoes? The one who travels light, skips the luggage carousel and saves money on taxis? And with the money you save on airline luggage fees you treat yourself to a gastronomic dinner with a lovely bottle of ‘bubbles’.

Let’s get serious. Let’s look at the type of luggage that is out there in the market place.

Backpacks

A backpack is not for everyone, especially if you have back pain. But if you are in the market for backpacks, there are a few things you need to consider.

My day pack is for my technology (laptop and hard drive) and writing materials. It weighs approximately four kgs, so I could probably carry it for up to two km at a push. I am 60 and think I am fairly fit, but any longer than that will make me struggle.

When deciding whether to carry a backpack, here are some questions to ask:

  • Are you going to be walking long distances? For example, from train stations to hotels and vice versa.
  • How long are you travelling for? How many outfits do you intend to pack? Are you travelling winter or summer?
  • Are you taking any technology such as laptop, cameras, etc.?

The best backpacks are the ones that open at the front, so that you can pull out the clothes you want easily. The ones that just open at the top can be “a bit of a pain.”

My tip is to borrow a family member’s backpack before you purchase one. Fill it with all the clothes you intend to take and enjoy a walk around the block – or maybe even two blocks – and see how you handle it. Always wear your heaviest shoes!

Backpacks are great when it comes to cobblestone roads – it is only your feet that will wear the brunt of them.

Suitcases with Four Wheels

Four-wheelers are the ones that you see zipping around the airport. They look great, are easy to handle, come in all sizes and are mostly made of hard material.

These are great – until you come to cobblestoned roads and rough surfaces.

My tip is to read the reviews on how the wheels of the brand you are considering handle the travel you are going to undertake. Also, read the reviews on how the material handles being ‘roughed up’ by baggage handlers, as no two materials are equal.

You may even want to purchase the ones that are suitable for carry-on. But if you do consider the carry-on, be aware of the weight restrictions for each airline that you are travelling on, as they all differ.

If you are travelling on several different airlines, base your weight on the one with the smallest weight allowance.

A great tip is to pack your suitcase and try lifting it over your head, similar to what you will be doing when trying to put it in the overhead locker. There won’t always be a helpful man or woman to assist.

We are currently travelling through Europe, and some of our accommodation in major cities has been in hotels with no lifts.

Why do we always get the top floor? We love the views! But honestly, some of the staircases that we have had to traverse would be totally illegal in our home country of Australia.

We Travel with a Carry-On (or We Thought We Did)

We were very happy with our carry-ons until the airlines put restrictions on the weight that you can carry on board. Our carry-ons take us around the world for up to 18 months at a time.

Our trusty luggage is by Osprey. They have weathered rough baggage handlers, rain, cobblestoned roads, being thrown around in tuk-tuks, boats, trains, etc., and they weigh in around 11-13 kgs depending on where we are going.

With the airline restrictions in place, especially where budget carriers are concerned, our trusty carry-ons are now checked-in luggage (sometimes at an outrageous cost).

We recently travelled from Prague to Nice and return on Czech Airlines and forgot to add the luggage onto the cheap fare. The result was paying an extra AUD220 return for two bags totally 20kgs. Ouch! One expensive mistake.

My tip is to make sure you understand the airfare that you are booking!

More Tips for Travelling Light

Pack clothes that you can layer.

For instance, I have a black summer sleeveless dress that I can wear in a cold climate by adding a black long sleeve top underneath it, leggings or tights and a scarf. I wear a pair of black ballet flats to go with the outfit. You can usually buy everything that you need in the places that you visit.

If you are going to a cold climate and you need to purchase thick jackets, hats or gloves, do so there and gift them back to the locals when you leave. Buy one good warm insulated jacket that can be folded into a small square which fits perfectly into your luggage.

Travel only with four pairs of shoes – good walking shoes, sandals for night time, flip flops and flat ballet shoes.

An Outrageous Packing Story!

We travelled on a reposition cruise from Bilbao in Spain to Colon in Panama for 15 nights. There was no single supplement for cabins. One lady booked a whole cabin just for her luggage, and each night she had on a different outfit with different shoes to match!

What kind of luggage do you use when you travel? Do you prefer a backpack or wheeler suitcase? Do you try to travel with only a carry-on bag? Please share your best (or your worst) luggage stories!

Jane and Duncan Dempster-SmithJane and Duncan Dempster-Smith are nomadic semi-retirees, baby boomers, travellers, House Sitters and co-founders of To Travel Too. Their motto is “Age is no barrier when it comes to travel.” Although not yet pensioners, their goal is to travel the world on what is currently the Australian Age Pension of approx. AUD 33,716 (USD 25,110) per year, or AUD 92 (USD 69) per day for two people.

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