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We all know what a pain it is to hang around at the airport after a long flight, scanning the carousel for your checked bags, but determining what size backpack for carry on you need can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that you can take so you have a headache free journey.

Why Having A Carry On Makes Travel Easier

You might be tempted to think that lugging all of your belongings through airport security seems a lot tougher than just checking your bag, but you are rolling the dice. Luggage can, and often does, get lost while in transit. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving after a red-eye flight to find out that your bag got shipped to Tulsa instead of Tampa.

Even if your bag makes it to your destination, there is still no guarantee that it will be in one piece. The best case scenario is that you will be hanging out at the airport for quite a while after your plane lands.

If you have been sold on packing light and smart with a carry on only, there is one other reason why backpacks are the best choice for you. If the airplane is full attendants will occasionally force people to check bits of luggage to save space in the overhead containers. This is perfectly legal and it happens all of the time. Wheeled carry-ons, like suitcases, are much more likely to be delegated to carry on territory whereas your soft backpack will get on the airplane with no problem.

Save Yourself The Hassle And Know The Rules Before You Fly

Before you travel, you need to know what size backpack for carry on that your particular airline allows. All airlines are different, but the general rule is 22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 9 inches deep. With some smart packing, you can make this space work even for the longest of trips.

Some Packing Pointers Are:

  • Be strategic with your clothes: pack multi-use items that you can wear again and again.
  • Keep large books or reading material at home: bring a lightweight kindle or tablet instead.
  • Make sure all of the air is out of the plastic bags that you use for toiletries.
  • Roll your clothes to minimize the amount of space you are using.
  • Wear your heavy shoes and clothes to the airport, as opposed to packing them.
  • Pack clothing in lightweight, wrinkle free fabrics.
  • Put your heaviest items at the bottom of your bag and then fill in the spaces left over with smaller items for the most efficient pack

Also keep in mind that plenty of places you travel to will have laundry facilities. Your hotel or hostel will more than likely be able to do your wash for you for a small fee. Even if there are no laundry amenities in your hotel or hostel, most major cities have laundromats or places you can drop off your clothes in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. Keep this in mind while packing and you will be a whole lot less likely to overpack your bag.

You will probably have some toiletries or liquid products in your carry on. If you do not want to have an unpleasant encounter at the airport, it is best to know the TSA rules ahead of time. You will not be able to bring large sized items of your favorite creams, body washes or lotions. You have a few options at your disposal.

Packing Toiletries In Your Carry On

  • Buying trial sized versions of your favorite carry on items: Many drugstores sell smaller versions of your favorite products, but they are generally higher priced than the larger sizes.
  • Buying small bottles or tubes for your existing products: This is a more economical way to bring the toiletries you need with you, and it is more environmentally friendly because the bottles can be washed and reused.
  • Buying products when you arrive at your destination: Although this might sound like a wasteful idea, it is sometimes a great option, especially if you are traveling by ground for a period of time. Buy local products when you arrive and do not worry about the TSA guidelines.

There are a few other rules for air travel with a carry on backpack. You can’t bring any weapons. Guns are obviously out, but so is pepper spray and certain types of razors. You can bring a safety razor; one that is traditionally purchased at a drug store where the razor is connected to the metal or plastic handle. If you have any concerns about bringing shaving razors on the airplane, keep everything in its plastic casing until you arrive at your destination.

You can also bring snacks on the airplane. Airline food does not have the best reputation, so if you want to bring on a piece of fruit or a bag of nuts, you can do that. In the case of fruit, it is important to eat it while you are on the airplane especially if you are crossing an international border. You can’t bring in strange agricultural products to foreign countries.

You can also bring in an empty reusable bottle of water. The airport will have plenty of places to fill up and it is much more economical than buying overpriced water in the airport. Also, stainless steel bottles are much more environmentally friendly than plastic ones.

Comfort Is Key When It Comes To Traveling

If you are opting not to check your bag, you will want your carry on backpack to be as comfortable as possible. Balancing comfort with function can be difficult at times, especially if you are prone to overpacking. When packing, remember that you will need to lug your backpack around the airport and plan accordingly. Even so, you might find that your pack is heavier than you are comfortable with. There are some things to take into consideration to make carrying around your backpack easier.

Make Sure You Have Invested In A Sturdy Backpack

The backpacks you will be using for travel is not like a school backpack. It should be built to support a lot of weight. The last thing you need is a backpack that rips or splits when you pack it full of your items. Make sure that your backpack is sturdy. If you are buying it online read Amazon reviews and check out what other people have to say. If you are purchasing your backpack in a store, make sure that the seams are really strong and reinforced. They will be under a certain amount of strain when the backpack is full, so they need to be able to carry weight efficiently.

There are other things to take into consideration when examining the sturdiness of your backpack:

  • What material is the backpack made out of?: Not all material is created equal with nylon blends, canvas and cotton blends being the sturdiest.
  • Look at the zipper quality: The last thing you need is a busted zipper when you are trying to close up your backpack. Make sure the zipper seams are solid.
  • Is the backpack waterproof?: While rain will not be something (hopefully) that you will encounter at the airport, a waterproof bag is a good investment.

Give Special Attention To The Straps

Not only are straps the first thing that generally rips on sub-par backpacks, they are also responsible for dictating how much stress the backpack will put on your shoulders and back. Make sure the shoulder straps are both strong and padded, so they don’t injure you as you are carrying arooud your bag. Many of the best backpacks also come with a hip strap that balances the weight of the pack between your shoulders and your hips. This can help to even out the bag distribution and lead to fewer neck and shoulder problems.

The back of your backpack should also be padded and conform easily to your back. You want a snug fit, without being too tight, so choose straps that you can customize and adjust.

Your ideal backpack will also fall right to your hip area, not dragging below or too high above. If your pack is the proper size, your body should be able to move efficiently to balance all of the weight. Keep in mind that you will not just be using this bag at the airport, but most likely carrying it with you through a different city. The last thing you want to do is risk a shoulder, neck or back injury because of a subpar or ill fitting bag.

Pockets Are Your Best Friend

If you have any expensive electronic devices, like tablets or laptops, you will need a bag with cushioned pockets. It is a terrible idea to just shove your expensive laptop in with your other items and hope that nothing happens to it. Get a good bag with pockets and padded sections where your expensive items will be securely fastened and safe throughout the journey. Many backpacks now come with waterproof cushioned pockets. If you are carrying toiletries with you, give special thought to how you will keep your expensive electonics safe during the journey. Getting a backpack with pockets will not only keep you more organized, it will also enable you to breathe easier when it comes to your pricey and fragile belongings. Most high quality backpacks come with a number of different pockets or removable containers.

Do Your Research

Think about what you will use your backpack for, and research all of your options accordingly. The internet is full of reviews, testimonials and information about backpacks in all different styles and price ranges. There are plenty of articles that detail which backpacks are the best for travel. Once you have researched a few good options, you will be better able to make an educated decision about what kind of backpack is right for you.

A Quick Word About Warranties

Some backpacks come with lifetime warranties that guarantee they will be effective for years to come. Although it might be tempting to default to one of these brands simply because of the warranty, it is important to understand what the warranty actually means. Most warranties only protect against manufacturer defects and any factory created problems with design. Normal wear and tear is not part of the warranty in most cases, so you will not be able to ensure that your backpack will be in pristine condition for the duration of the time you have it. Also, if you use the backpack for something that it is clearly not intended to do and break a strap or snap a zipper, the warranty will not cover the damage in most cases.

When planning for your next trip, keep these general rules in mind for what size backpack for carry on you can bring aboard the airplane. If you pack light and smart, do your homework on what kind of backpack you need and make sure your electronics are safely stowed in pockets away from toiletries, you will have a smooth trip.

With so many backpacks that can easily double as luggage, there is no reason to check a bag. You will save yourself the headaches of dealing with lost luggage, waiting forever at the baggage carosel or contending with a ripped or damaged bag. Finding the right travel backpack for you is easy with all of the online resources available, and there are plenty of options for every budget and taste. If you make an investment in your backpack it will serve you for years to come and you will never have to worry about clunky, wheeled luggage again!