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Summary:

Anyone who’s been on airplanes over the years knows that checking luggage is getting to be steadily more of a nuisance – and a potentially expensive nuisance at that. Between TSA searches, airlines charging more for checked luggage, and disasters like the recent breakdown of the […]

Anyone who’s been on airplanes over the years knows that checking luggage is getting to be steadily more of a nuisance – and a potentially expensive nuisance at that. Between TSA searches, airlines charging more for checked luggage, and disasters like the recent breakdown of the baggage handling system at Heathrow Airport’s brand new Terminal 5 (causing 15,000 bags to go astray), checked luggage has become an exercise in frustration. But if you have to travel for business, what’s the alternative?

As an article in the Baltimore Sun points out, one alternative is to skip the checked baggage system entirely. Instead of checking their luggage, an increasing number of travelers are shipping it to their destinations.

There are several variants on this theme:

  • Ship it yourself using Fedex, UPS, or even the postal service.
  • Use a concierge-level service like Luggage Free or Luggage Forward. These services take care of the hassles of packing and shipping your luggage – for a price.
  • Use the CarryOn “virtual closet” service. With this service, your luggage never comes to your home; they keep a stock of your clothing and toiletries, ship them to your hotel, get them back, and even handle dry-cleaning in between trips.

  • Discipline yourself to pack less. Onebag has some great tips if you go this route.

What about you? If you travel frequently (as all too many of us do), how do you deal with luggage? Are you still battling with airline check-ins, or have you found a way to be first off the plane and out to the curb?

  1. A single carry-on with nothing checked. I get flagged for “extra searching” every time, but that generally takes only an extra 5 minutes (and I still came home from New Orleans with half a 750mL bottle of vodka, but that’s another story).

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  2. Same as Michael. For any trip of several days or less I don’t need a full suitcase. A carryon plus personal bag works fine. If I had to deal with suits etc it would be different, but in tech… khakis or equivalent and sportshirts are fine. Pack 3-4 each plus the other stuff you need (socks, underwear etc), wear a nice jacket on and you’re done.

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  3. Another vote for a carry-on and personal bag. Nice jacket goes on me; laptop goes in the personal bag. I spent 3 weeks in Spain with this setup and it a lot easier to get around. I bring decent-looking clothes that dry quickly after being handwashed.

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  4. Avoid check-in at all costs. Figure out the minimum set of things you need (it’s less than you think) and fit it all in your carry on. At worst you can buy what you left behind once you get to your destination.

    My luggage got lost on the way to a 3 day conference once. Besides my suit (I was a speaker) I was surprised how little I needed everything else.

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  5. I’ve used Luggage Concierge before… it was worth the price considering I was able to travel to Italy with literally just my briefcase until I reached my hotel, where my 2 other bags were waiting. I’m all for shipping luggage.

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  6. I’ll be the 5th person to chime in with “carry-on”. It’s an old approach, but a good one whenever you can do it.

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  7. So I recently booked a holiday flight with RyanAir.. they are not the best company, but they charge extra for checked luggage and also airport checkin. So we didn’t.

    Now I had to go find a bag that would be able to hold a weeks worth of holiday clothes, but me and my girlfriend have took it on as a challenge.

    Onebag.com is a great resource!

    PS — BA misplaced 19,000 bags.. not 15,000!

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  8. I rarely can do it all in carry-on because with my laptop bag and assorted tech, plus my purse it’s usually about as much as I can take. But I really should figure something else out before my next fligt. Last time I traveled a couple of weeks ago (from Philadelphia to New Orleans) I waited about as long for my suitcase when I came home as I was on the plane in the first place.

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  9. I’m another vote for carry on only. I can get a week’s clothes and survival goodies into one back that the airlines will let me take on. It has taken a decade of practice, but it is worth it. No waiting around for bags to arrive – or worrying if they even will!

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  10. One bag, anytime possible. I typically travel once every week or two, for 1-3 day trips. I find that a small gym-size duffel bag works great. The trick I use for keeping dress shirts wrinkle-free is to use a plain old shoe box. Roll-up the shirts loosely, lay them in the box, put the box in the bag, and then jam everything else in the spaces that are left. Sit the laptop right on thop of the shoebox, so you can pull it out at security or while waiting at the gate.

    I settled on a small duffel to avoid issues with flights that run out of overhead space. The bag *just* barely fits under the seat. And of course, if overhead space is tight but still available, it’s much easier to find a nook to jam it in.

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