Why I Refuse to Check a Bag. Even if its Free!!!

I know, I know!  You’re flying business or first class and you get free checked bags, so why not use them?!  Well, for anyone that believes in packing efficiently, you understand that just because you can take those two to three checked bags, it doesn’t mean you should!  There are a few foundational reasons why, even though I fly business or first class often (via upgrade or because I booked that class of service), I still will only travel with my carry on bag and refuse to check bags.


1.  Your packing strategy should always be the same.


Regardless of the trip, unless you are moving, the way you pack should be the same.  It’s almost like a ritual.  When I pack for a trip I always start with any undergarments that I may need.  Socks, undershirts, underwear (whats that!?), etc.  Then I move to shirts and tank tops.  Tank tops are a huge part of my travel uniform since most of the places I travel to are warm weather destinations.  Next is pants and shorts.  Of course, these are matched with the previous level of shirts and tank tops.  Finally, shoes!  Three pairs of shoes max!  You should be selecting shoes that go with everything and are versatile enough to span your clothing options from gym wear to dressy.  Why is all of this important?  Sticking to a routine or packing strategy really cuts down on just throwing random things in the bag or packing things Just In Case.  Again, just because the space is there doesn’t mean that you have to use it.


2.  Pack for exactly what you are planning to do and not for all of the just in case scenarios.


Always check the weather of the final destination.  This will help guide you in packing.  Additionally, it’s extremely helpful to know what you are planning to do while on the trip.  Now, this doesn’t mean that every moment of the trip needs to be planned out but you should at least have an idea of the types of activities you have planned.  Why is this important?  Again, packing for what you have planned to do eliminates the Just In Case.  Besides, if you really needed something, you can get it at the destination.  Sometimes going shopping in a foreign country is an adventure in itself!


3.  This is a big one!!!  Remember flight cancellations, delays, and last-minute changes tend to happen.


It happens all of the time and it’s an opportunity for your checked bags to take their own vacation separate from you in another destination.  I hear it all too often!  Too many people end up without their bags for a day or two because they had to make a tight connection, or changed planes at the last minute.  There was a time when I was on a flight to Brazil with a layover in Miami.  Well, we had to make an emergency stop in Orlando due to weather.  While on the ground waiting, I called the airline and changed my flight to depart from Orlando instead of Miami.  The plane was going to continue on to Miami (we were just sitting on the tarmac waiting out the weather.  In other words, we were not deplaning and the checked bags stayed on that aircraft), but by that point, I would have missed my Miami connection.  Instead,  I was able to just walk off  the plane and head to my next gate with my carry on bag.   That wouldn’t have been possible with a checked bag!


These are some pretty basic reasons and they all go hand in hand with the overall philosophy of packing lite and being able to be on the move.  Who wants to be weighed down with two large checked bags, when I can just grab my weekender bag (which can absolutely be used for more than just a weekend) and head right to ground transportation when flying or easily carry my bags with me as I transition from one place to the next.


How Often Do You Check Bags?

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