How to Spend Less Time at the Airport

How to Spend Less Time at the Airport

I love flying. I love travel. But you know what I don’t love? Waiting in lines at the airport when my destination is waiting for me just outside the airport doors.

Granted, there isn’t much you can do about security lines. The TSA kind of frowns upon people trying to bypass their efforts. But you can reduce your airport wait time considerably if you skip the baggage claim.

carryon bag text

But not having to wait, and not running the risk of my luggage getting lost was a pretty strong motivator. So I decided I would give it a try.

In other words, ditch that big suitcase and just use a carry-on. When I first read this advice (from travel guru Rick Steves), I balked. I am someone who likes to be prepared for every possible scenario, and I always packed accordingly. I couldn’t fathom fitting everything I needed in a 22 x 14 x 9 bag.

I got bags that were as close to the 22 x 14 x 9 size as possible. Why go with anything smaller than the maximum allowed? I also read up on the regulations because being well informed helps prevent unpleasant surprises at inconvenient times. I was allowed one carry-on and one personal item (purse, laptop case, etc). I was fully prepared to stuff a laptop case full of my toiletries and have my husband carry it if necessary.

I chose my clothing carefully. For example, instead of packing a variety of both long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts, I chose to pack only short sleeves with 1 hoodie and 1 lightweight jacket for evenings and unexpectedly chilly weather. And you know what? All of my items fit in the carry-on bag. A week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, and even a few “just in case” items. All in a carry-on bag! I was amazed.

But packing the bag was only the first part of the test. The second part was actually living for a week with the small amount I had packed. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. I did not truly need anything that I hadn’t packed. And, let’s be honest. It wasn’t like I had flown straight to a deserted island… I could have purchased anything I really needed but didn’t have with me.

This bold experiment has forever changed how I travel. Not once have I checked luggage for a flight since then, and never have I had to deal with the annoying task of standing around a luggage carousel, looking for my bag in a sea of others and praying that it will show up.

If you don’t travel with a carry-on, try it the next time you fly. You might be pleasantly surprised like I was. And you’ll have more time to enjoy the world outside the airport.

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