Is One-Bag Travel right for you? Or is check-in better?

So, what is one-bag travel? Simply put, one-bag travel is about fitting all of your luggage into one carry-on bag.

This may be easy for a weekend away, but can become more difficult the longer you plan on travelling. One-bag travel leaves no room for those ‘just in case’ items and requires very careful consideration, compromise, and control to make sure everything fits.

However, packing less shouldn’t mean doing less on your holiday!

If you’re interested in one-bag travel, there are a few things you’ll need to think about before throwing your big suitcase back under the bed. To make that decision, we’ll give you a few reasons why one-bag travel might, and might not work for you.

Here are 3 reasons why you might want to try one-bag travel:

1. You like a challenge!

One-bag travel is about taking exactly what you need and nothing more. Start by asking yourself “what do I absolutely need for my travel plans?”

You will have to question the value of every item.

Prepare to compromise on what you want to bring, and focus on what you need. Sadly, that bulky rhinestone jacket you found at a thrift store will have to stay home, no matter how awesome it looks (I am definitely NOT speaking from experience).

This process may take time to perfect, but that’s part of the journey. Over time, you’ll get your packing list down to the essentials and, as a result, learn a lot about yourself.

For me, I realised I was packing a lot of “what if” items. Those items which had no day-to-day usage, but were only there for those ‘off chance’ moments.

By questioning their place in my luggage, I came to a sobering realisation…

I spend so much time worrying about what might happen in the future, that I stop myself from truly enjoying the present. The “what if” items were a security blanket that helped me cope with the anxiety associated with new experiences.

By challenging myself to leave those “what if” items at home, I realised that the situations I had imagined were exactly that… imagined.

Believe it or not, one-bag travel can send you on a journey of self-discovery before you even leave your home.

One-bag travel

2. You love being efficient

Once you’re travelling with only one bag, getting through the airport becomes so much quicker. No longer will you be stuck in those long drop off queues or spend your holiday waiting at the baggage carousel.

The less time you spend in the airport, the more you get to see on your holiday… unless you’re going through Changi airport, that place is crazy! With it’s movie theatre, butterfly garden, and massive Harry Potter installation, why would you want to leave?

But I digress…

There are also advantages once you reach your accommodation. Having less items to keep track of means you’re less likely to forget or lose anything.

Spend your cash on souvenirs and not on that phone charger you forgot to unplug.

Save money. Buy souvenirs.

3. You’re on a budget

Many airlines (especially the budget ones) add extra fees for check-in baggage.

One-Bag Travel = no check-in baggage, therefore…no extra charges!

Fees vary between airlines. For example, at the time of writing this, Tigerair’s start at $75 AUD for a bag weighing 12-15kg. If you’re travelling on a budget, that can be a lot!

If you’re one of those people who can travel without a budget, I am extremely jealous and hate you a little bit. Nevertheless, I will push through all that to help you put things in perspective (you’re welcome).

Think about it like this…

You can walk into any typical Singaporean food court and get 20 chicken satays with a side of peanut sauce for 10 Singapore dollars. Allowing for the exchange rate at the time of writing this blog (S$1 = AU$1.05), you could buy roughly 142 satays with the money you saved by being a one-bag traveller.

No matter how rich you are, no one is too good for satays.

Chicken Satay

One-bag travel can be great, giving you more time and money to spend on what you want, and it may send you on a journey of personal discovery without even leaving your home.

However, one-bag travel isn’t for everyone. Here are some reasons why check-in may be more up your alley:

1. You love to shop!

Travelling with one carry-on bag leaves you with very little free space. This is a dealbreaker for a friend of mine.

She’s a high flying career woman who travels extensively for business and pleasure. She is also one of those lucky people who can travel without needing to budget (definitely not jealous).

Anyway, she loves to shop for clothes whilst away. In fact, she uses a gigantic suitcase to only pack the essentials, so there’s plenty of room for that overseas shopping spree.

One-bag travel is supposed to enhance your travel experiences, but don’t let it get in the way of something you love.

One-bag travel might not be for you if you love to go shopping

2. You’re destination hopping

In December last year, my partner and I went to Singapore with two of our friends. After parting ways, our friends were off to France and Canada.

For our friends, the temperature differences between their destinations made travelling with only one-bag travel too difficult. The arctic climate of Canada in winter required bulky gear to stay warm.

One bag travel is great, but I’d go check-in if it meant avoiding frostbite. I like having ten fingers, thank you very much.

One-bag travel might not work if you need bulky gear

3. You need items that are prohibited by airport security

As I mentioned before, one-bag travel is about taking only what you need. However, what if you need something that is prohibited by airport security?

(Quick side note, make sure you check the airport security rules in your home country, any stopover countries AND your destination to make sure you won’t get your items confiscated during your holiday)

Anywho, if you absolutely need a prohibited item then you legally have to check your bags.

I had this problem when I travelled to East Africa a few years ago. My trip consisted of mainly camping through Kenya and Uganda, and it was recommended that I bring a small swiss army knife. As a result, I had to check-in my bags.

I was tempted to leave it at home so I could go carry-on only, but I’m glad I didn’t. I used it to repair my tent, fix my pack, and even prepare some kindling for the fire.

Without it, my tent would have fallen over, exposing me to the wildlife, and I would’ve definitely been eaten by a lion…or I would’ve been really cold, who knows…

Camping under the night sky

One-bag travel definitely isn’t for everyone. It probably isn’t for if you need extra space for shopping, require bulky gear, or need an item that can’t be carried on planes.

However, I’ve found it extremely useful in my travels, and I would love to know your thoughts.

Are you a bonafied one-bag traveller? Does check-in fit your needs better? Or do you lie somewhere in-between?

More importantly, how would you choose to eat your 142 satays? One serve of 20 at a time over the course of a few days? Or all in one sitting like a royal, drunk with power?

Let us know in the comments!

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