We’ve all been there…expensive checked luggage and tight, complicated airline regulations have us stuffing our carry-ons until the zipper is bursting!

Plenty of people probably snicker behind me as I throw my huge Cabin Max  backpack (here is one that converts to a trolley) and VS Weekender Tote onto the security conveyer and start pulling out my electronics, liquids, and electric hair tools. But knowing that I fit one and a half to two weeks worth of clothes (three weeks in the summer) into a carry-on and a hand bag has me with the last laugh.

Now, I am not a backpacker. I travel cheap (and buy cheaper), but I am no vagabond or camper (although I wish I could be). The Cabin Max backpack and Cabin Max wheeled bag are not for use as a traveling or camping backpack for long hauls of carrying time, but when it comes to plane hopping, this durable backpack is a must for me.

For one, it is useful getting on and off a plane, and walking through the cobble stoned streets of Europe to get to a hostel. Many rolling luggages will not easily make it through rough terrain.

Two, as long as your backpack can fit into the luggage rack provided by the airline, attendants don’t seem to question the weight of it when you are carrying your luggage on your back (budget airlines have 10kg limits on carry-on luggage).

Three, backpacks are expandable! Whenever I think mine is full, I can always find a small pocket of space.

So even though my backpack is always past the weight limit (ssshhh…don’t tell), and maybe even the dimension limit when it is stretched, I always have my boarding pass printed, never go to the check-in desk or airline customer service, and I am able to slide straight through security.

If you still aren’t sure about having to carry all of your things on your back, or if you’re not sure of the sturdiness of a backpack converted to trolley, try these conventional rolling carry-ons from Aerolite or Samsonite . I like these two rolling luggages because the wheels are low to the ground and do not take up much space. This may not allow for a full 360 rotational spin, but it does provide you with more room, as the measurements are taken from ground up. If you purchase a carry-on with tall wheels and suspension, your wheels are taking up most of your space allowance.

To find out more on luggage allowance dimensions, click here to find a simple, color-coded periodic table of hand luggage. And speaking of space, I’m sure you are wondering how I maximize the 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (21.5″ x 15.5″ x 8″) of space that Ryanair and most other budget European airlines allow. Below, you will find a guide for Packing to the Max (and keeping your clothes wrinkle free):

Lay out all of the items for packing
Place flat shoes at the bottom of your bag and roll or fold small items for your bottom layer
Lay jeans flat & perpendicular to the bag so that the waist line is tucked into the side of the bag
Lay sweaters and light-weight jackets and bigger shirts flat and perpendicular to bag. Place last remaining items in the center.
Wrap items around themselves until you have made a small, tight bundle
Sit bag upright to shift and compact items to find just a bit more space.
Place liquids in a clear plastic bag. Make sure liquids and electronics are easily accessible. Remember you get to take a personal item onboard most airlines too!

And just in case you got lost along the way: Here is a video that inspired my packing method!


[Original Header Photo by Arthur Edelman on Unsplash]

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