Three weeks no checked bags

Impossible, right? Nope. Piece of cake.

Not a worthwhile endeavor? I disagree.

Boring, useless post? Debatable, but I’m going for it anyway. You see, my disdain for checked luggage runs deep and, after a few sad bag tales, I have learned my lesson.



Chris is the unfortunate victim of my first sad bag tale. He happened to make his first trip to India during the great British Airways system crash of 2006. They lost over 25,000 bags that day and in the following weeks Chris discovered that he is much larger than the average Indian man as he squeezed himself into double extra large Indian Adidas gym shorts.

Ironically, BA also lost our friend Rayna’s bag that day. You’ll see why that is ironic in a minute.

My first personal bag incident in recent memory was the Hawaiian bag bandit of 2007, which led me to chase some guy through the Honolulu airport after I saw him take my bag right off of the carousel. Fortunately I caught him and got it back. One of my brothers lost his bag on that trip too, luckily there are two of them to share clothes, although I don’t think they were too stoked about the underwear situation.

Later that year Chris’ best man’s bag got lost en route to our wedding. If Ken and his wife hadn’t spent hours searching the airport to recover their own bag, I am fairly certain that he would never have seen it again. I was happy for Ken that he got his stuff back and, maybe selfishly, happy for me that he got his tuxedo back in time for our wedding. Rayna was along for this adventure as well, but fortunately she suffered no suitcase trauma.

2008 did not go without incident either. It was a sad day when we arrived at Lake Tahoe to sunshine and fresh powder but our snowboards ended up in Dallas. Rental boards would have been an option, except that we had wrapped all of our heavy jackets and pants around our snowboards as padding and had no clothes to wear either.

*Picture actually from Vail 2011, Tahoe pictures are MIA.

After going more than a year without any lost luggage events, we were reminded again why not to check bags during the great Nairobi bag heist of 2010. Our poor friends Rayna and Farrah showed up in Africa to climb a mountain with us, but their bags were no shows. Rayna got her bag months later, but Farrah’s bag still hasn’t turned up despite a verified sighting in Nairobi. There is someone, somewhere in Africa, overheating in a brand new zero degree North Face sleeping bag. Fortunately, my bag did arrive and, unlike usual, I packed enough for three. Well, enough base layers anyway, they were bummed to have to rent jackets and pants instead of wearing the super cute ones that they had packed.

That pretty much sums up why I avoid checking bags if at all possible. Not worth the hassle. Plus, I have basically become a professional at washing and drying my clothes in hotel rooms anyway, so what’s the point?

Let’s take a look at what I brought for the next three weeks:


  • 5 work outfits – I was tempted to pack less and mix and match, but Chris said that I should make an effort to look like I am wearing clean clothes during each week of the trip, especially since I will be meeting many of my co-workers in person for the first time.
  • 3 sets of gym clothes + Garmin
  • 3 all-purpose solid colored t-shirts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 pashmina
  • 1 all-purpose light sweater
  • 3 pairs of shoes (dress shoes, flip flops, running shoes)
  • assorted socks and underwear – about one week worth
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 dress
  • 1 trench coat – This really came in handy in Dubai. Riiiight.


  • bar shampoo – Check out One bar shampoo at Target. It is pretty awesome and makes for one less thing to try to cram into my one quart Ziploc.
  • bar soap
  • 3 oz each of conditioner, body lotion, moisturizer, sunblock, and toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • make-up
  • deodorant
  • razor
  • hair brush

Stuff that didn’t make the cut:

  • DSLR – I have some crummy iPhone pictures coming your way!
  • iPad – This was tough to leave behind. I love, love, love the iPad, but it was hard to justify packing since I had to bring my laptop.
  • My favorite purse – My laptop ‘purse’ is going to have to do double duty. I did manage to cram an extra small purse into my laptop ‘purse’.
  • Hair dryer – Hoping that my hotels have them. If not, I’ll be going au natural. So far I’m 3 for 3 with hair dryers. We’ll see how hotel #4 treats me

I’ll let you know how this went in about 12 more days!

  1. 'liya said:

    The good thing about not checking bags is that you don’t have to pay the fees most airlines are charging now 🙂

  2. shelby said:

    Honestly, I don’t understand people who check bags. Um…I can live without my favorite shampoo for a week if it saves me $25, 25 minutes of time standing around at baggage claim, and the possibility that the airline loses it.

    Also? On a climbing trip to J-Tree a few years ago, I made the mistake of accidentally packing our DSLR in a checked bag (we had way too much camping and climbing gear to carry on). It was stolen by TSA. Never again.

    I love hearing about your adventures over in Asia! Can’t wait to hear about the latest trip! 🙂

    • Brit said:

      That totally stinks about your camera! Luckily I have never had anything stolen from my bag, but the idea that it can get lost forever like Farrah’s is enough to make me steer clear of the baggage check line. Picking out jeans worth buying is a time consuming art and the possibility of them getting lost is reason enough for me to carry-on!

  3. jena said:

    I haven’t travelled enough by plane to understand packing everything in one suitcase and not checking. Although, when we went to Ohio in November we didn’t check any bags. That was quite the fiasco. Going from Florida where it’s in the 80s to Ohio where it was in the 40’s. Uhm. how does one pack warm clothes in one suitcase? It was a challenge. I wore a sweatshirt & jacket on the plane (i’m a security nightmare! ha ). –packing light for the bahamas is a completely different situation. bikinis & tank tops take up very little room. =)

    Hope you are enjoying your trip(s).

    • Brit said:

      Carrying on bags for cold weather trips takes a little more creativity and maybe some willingness to re-wear some of your heavier layers, not ideal, but then again losing bags isn’t either.

  4. I pack light when I fly, but my wife is the opposite, so we usually end up checking, esp. if we fly Delta (card holder = free checked bag).

    I will say that I hate the phenomenon of carrying on the max size bag, because all too often I see a family of four who clearly is trying to avoid some baggage fees take up two overhead bins. Whereas I take a normal sized bag, and have to jump the gun and frantically board ASAP so that I don’t get stuck gate checking so that the Jones’s over there can have their summer vacation cost $100 less.

    • Brit said:

      Haha. I am your worst nightmare cramming my smallest rolling suitcase in the overhead bin. I’m a “good” one at least because mine fits into the bins in the more favorable direction taking up less space than the people who put theirs in horizontally and I always put my laptop bag under the seat in front of me.

      Having status is very important when trying to beat the Jones’ onto the plane!

  5. Heidi Nicole said:

    I’m a little late on this, but I hope it all worked out for you! I managed a full week with one rather small carry on bag so I think its totally do-able!

    Although, I do it because I’m far too cheap to pay for luggage. I’m yet to have any luggage fiascoes with airlines. *knock on wood*

    • Brit said:

      So far, so good! Admittedly, I ended up buying a few items in Melbourne, but not necessarily because I was out of clothes; I mostly bought clothes here because I happened upon some cute clothes.

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