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How to Travel with a Carry-on Only

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Traveling carry-on only is both liberating and enlightening. No waiting for your luggage praying to the turnstile that your bag isn't lost, no lugging around unwieldy heavy objects through city streets, and lots of jealous looks as you breeze right out the door and straight into your next adventure. Sure, you might think you'll need tons of luggage for a trip... but you don't. How many times have you stuffed your entire wardrobe into your suitcase only to wear your handful of favorite items? Hectic travel mornings are a lot easier when you don't have to sift through dozens of shirts intermingled with socks, tangled with tech, and travel detritus. Embrace simplicity and find out how to streamline your packing into one carryon bag!

What to Expect From your Carry-on

how to go carry on only for the first time

Save yourself from having to lug a huge suitcase from your house to the airport, then through security, then seeing it disappear with hundreds of other suitcases... all while crossing your fingers that you'll make it to the gate in time. A carry-on means you get to skip luggage carousel nerves and baggage fees.

When you only bring your carry-on, you may need to devote a bit more brain power toward planning. It's not always under your control, however, aim to be among the first to board so you can score the best real estate in the overhead compartment. Keep in mind, most people have a carry-on, so leave as much room as you can for others.

How to Pick the Best Carry-On Bag

men's leather bag

The best carry-on bag is durable, flexible, and a modern classic. A briefcase, a carry-on, a laptop bag, your bag should multi-task it all and ought to look great while doing it. An expandable bag has to have materials that are durable and give structure to the piece. There's no sense in bringing a bag that can hold your clothes but is saggy when empty. It's just plain sad to see someone stroll around a conference with a flat tire for a bag. For short weekend trips, the Heritage Satchel is a perfect all leather carry-on.

If you're planning a bit more than a weekend away, you'll want something like our Heritage Duffle Bag. It's the ultimate leather weekender with tons of storage and was inspired by the brave folks who loaded their duffels up and headed west in search of betterment. When we travel, isn't that what we're hoping for as well? The Heritage Duffle is relentless and will be a perfect globetrotting companion for decades. Assess your needs and your travel plans, and get a bag that lines up with those needs. Once you have your bag chosen, it's time to pack, tuck, and roll out.

 

What to Pack in Your Carry-On

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Psst, here's how to become a packing rock star: Plan! Pack in terms of outfits and try to wear your bulkiest layers (like a trenchcoat) on the plane. For a 4-day business trip, you'll want to start out by packing two pairs of slacks and two sports coats. Preferably, your jackets will have a pattern on them so they will be transformed by different pants. Alternatively, you can pack 2 black suits and switch up the tie/shirt combo. Sure, it's a little MIB, but it's a great way to leave room for the other essentials.

A Carry-On Checklist

list of items to bring for a short weekend awayBring at least 2 spare ties for your trip. Ties are like magnets for stains, and it's the first giveaway that you're reusing an outfit. A variety of ties/ cufflinks/ handkerchiefs/ lapel flowers spice up the monotony that comes with work trips. They're also a great way to approach each day with a fresh attitude, tying a Windsor on a fresh tie can transform your mood. There are a few more items that are nice to have in multiples, pack a couple extra pair of socks and undergarments. Pack your ties, socks, and undies inside your other pair of shoes to keep them contained, prevent your shoes from getting squished, and it frees up room inside. Also, while you're at it, throw in a swimsuit, it never hurts to bring one. Round it all off with some pj's and you'll be good to go.

Lastly, now that you have work attire and sleepwear is covered, try to bring a business casual outfit. Odds are, you can wear the jeans, coat, and shoes you wore onto the plane, just switch out the shirt. After work drinks are a perfect way to network, make some new friends, and unwind all at the same time. Overpacking is a drag if your layout looks a lot more cluttered than this, visit this checklist for your carry-on.

Now, to roll or not to roll? That is the question... Turns out, it's both! Fold thin things, and roll the larger items to save space and prevent odd creases. Packsmith has a great article on folding vs rolling clothes.

Carry-on Essentials That Are the Most Forgotten

TSA accepted carry-ons

Let's finish up packing with toiletries. You might have noticed at this point that, a carry-on offers a lot of freedom, but they limit the number of items you can bring. Most airlines require you to follow the 3-1-1 rule. Do you really need to bring lip balm, hand cream, and an antiseptic ointment to prevent "travel skin"? A small tube of Paw-Paw Ointment is the all-in-one product that can tackle most cosmetic needs. Also, a little airport hack, fill up your travel water bottle with ice cubes. TSA won't let you bring that much liquid on, but ice is alright. Plus you can pour over some water (or whiskey... hey, no judgment here) and enjoy a cold, refreshing taste.

Don't forget to protect your tech! Travel will jostle all of your fragile tech and security isn't known to be gentle with your items. Cords will tangle themselves, laptops will ding, and iPads can shatter in transit. The solution is to pick up some traveling companions that'll keep you organized and your tech secure. How do you know you've got all your chargers? The Techfolio is a leather portfolio travel case will keep track of your watch bands, cords and chargers, memory cards, and keys. Depending on your Apple ecosystem, you may want to pick up a protective MacBook case, or luxurious iPad case. During a flight, there's not a whole lot to do, and your mind can wander, become inspired, and it's handy to have a brilliant journal on hand.

What is the Best Carry-On Bag?

When selecting a bag, pay close attention to the details. Does it look like the maker took pride in their craft? We can't speak for all bags everywhere, but we can certainly speak for ours. We honored the satchels of the past and imbued them with a modern, rugged spirit to create the Heritage Satchel Bag. American full-grain leather ensures nothing will slow down you while you explore. Well-trained artisans hand pound each and every copper rivet into place. After they're finished, they then subtly place their signature on the interior as an assurance of handcrafted quality. Plus, the roll-top design allows it to expand and protect your belongings.

Our Heritage Duffel Bag was crafted specifically for carry-on travel as well, with an included luggage strap, rugged full-grain leather, and plenty of space for a weekend getaway or a roomy cabin bag. The duffel is classically styled, guaranteed for 25 years at least, and will become iconic to you in just a few trips as it ages and develops some character.

How do I Know if My Bag is Right to Carry-On?

Put your tag to the test! First, run the measurements of your bag against your specific airline's carry-on size. Also, is your bag versatile? Does it serve multiple purposes? One bonus to look for is a leather luggage strap. On a longer trip, you may need to pack a real suitcase and a carry-on. Juggling two bags in an airport is not an elegant solution, your go-to carry-on bag ought to come with a luggage pass-through so it can easily ride along with your suitcase.

Once you have the right bag and have arrived at your destination, unpack, then load it up with your office gear and head out. Does it still look good? Your bag has to be able to change gears seamlessly. Also, it has to be made of a quality material. Maybe you manage to pull off the switch from carry-on to briefcase, but are there split stitches? Maybe a tear? A busted buckle is eye-catching and can detract from the rest of your style. That's why we make all of our bags out of UV-resistant nylon thread used in parachutes and sails. Then, we add the toughest, most rugged American full-grain leather and pair it with our unbreakable hardware. Then, we top everything off with a 25-year warranty.

The Best Bag to Carry On

No matter which bag you decide to use as your carry-on, make sure it's well-made and fits well with your requirements. The best carry-on is one you are proud to have and will still be excited to own in a few years. Which bag will you entrust to transport your belongings along with your journeys?  Safe travels and wherever you go, remember to keep calm and... carry-on.

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