Not all overhead bins are created equal. Nothing is more evident than when you switch from a wide-body just to a single aisle plane too small for you to stand fully upright. After a few of these situations force you to pay, literally, and anxiously stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers hoping your bag made the trip with you, your packing starts to evolve.
In the beginning, I traveled with a large duffel bag and a domestic-sized roller that expanded to nearly double its width. Now, I use the international wide body carryon and a backpack. The carryon allows me to push, pull, drag, and kick-push my way through the airport while an oversized backpack allows me to carry a lot while not risking having to check a bag. While this may seem like little progress, there were many trips taken to achieve this combination and airlines of all types that pushed my patience to the limit. One thing is for sure, the bag combination is nothing without the right packing technique. There’s always the debate on the best packing method. Just like the argument between two and four wheeled luggage, there’s many an argument about rolling vs. folding. Personally, I’m in the four wheel camp and I both fold and roll to max out my capacity.
Aside from the clothing essentials such as nice walking shoes a nice jean + shirt combination that can be dressed up, I have a few must-haves that I pack. A separate Dopp kit is essential at it keeps things contained and protected so that I can leave it in the bathroom during long stays. Individual shoe bags have been something I’ve grown a penchant towards as duffels that have shoe compartments end up being a large bag where one pair of shoes sit inconveniently in the center of my bag. A smaller day bag, both for the plane and to drag around while exploring has also become a staple to carry my headphones or guidebooks. My experiences and needs change nearly every trip, but these have all become my foundational pieces when I do pack.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, unless I double up on what I wear throughout the trip, I will come home with a good amount of clean-yet-very-wrinkled clothes. While I can continue to whittle it down through trial & error, my end goal is forever to pack light enough to maneuver easily through airports, public transportation and cobbled streets.