Not all carry-on bags are created equal

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Travel
Tags: , , ,

Size, not weight, is usually the main concern for carry-on bags if flying domestically. Domestic airlines allow carry-on bags to weigh up to 40 or 50 lbs, as long as they fit inside the 22″ x 9″ x 14″ dimensions for bag size. For our trip to Taiwan, though, the airline restricts hand carry baggage to 15 lbs (7 kg). We have Samsonite carry-on luggage we bought for a trip several years ago. I weighed the bag on our scale – it weighed in at 11 lbs, empty. This seems to be on par with most other carry-on bags, including those with the label “lite”.  An 11 lb. “lite” carry-on would not cut it for our trip to Taiwan: even if the weight were not an issue, the compartment for the rolling wheels takes up a considerable amount of space and limits the amount of clothing that can go in the bag. Here is a look at a sampling of carry-on bags.

(There are thousands of bags available, this is just a small sampling.) All of the carry-on luggage with wheels weigh more than the non-wheeled options. The two best options for our travel purposes are the Red Oxx Air Boss and the Rick Steves Duffel. We looked at both before we traveled to Taiwan in 2009 (plus a few others offered by both companies). The Red Oxx bag costs $225 compared to the Rick Steves’ bag, which is less than $100. We chose the Red Oxx bag for its design and durability – it is not cheap but is a bag that will last our family a long time. The zippers are the best I have ever seen on any piece of luggage. The  Red Oxx Air Boss gets rave reviews from business travelers and many reviewers brag about the amount of stuff you can fit in the bag. When our Red Oxx bag arrived, I looked it over and started worrying about all that I needed to pack – how in the world would it fit into a bag this small? But it did. The way the compartments are designed, it is perfect for travel – unlike a regular duffel bag, the soft-sided compartments allowed for better organization. I packed everything I needed and still had some room. As I packed, I kept weighing it using our bathroom scale. I could have fit much more into the bag, had it not been for the weight limit. Even though it has soft sides, when it is packed, it doesn’t look over-stuffed and it easily fits in the overhead bin of the airplane.

Here are a few other luggage-related tips:

  1. Rick Steves’ website offers a wonderful section on travel tips. It even offers a suggested packing list for women.
  2. I also used travel-size Space Bags when packing. The bags were especially helpful in condensing down all of the baby clothes we were packing.
  3. The “space bag” we packed for our son weighed in at 6 lbs. I am going to try and make it a little lighter this time. We bought diapers, bottles, baby food and a baby feeding spoon in Taiwan. We also bought a baby stroller at RT Mart. Carrefour and RT Mart both offered decent “umbrella-style” strollers for about $US30. In a future post, I will list essential baby items we packed in our bags.
  4. Make a list before you pack and pack your bag a week before your trip. That way you won’t be up late the night before you leave, and hopefully you won’t forget any essentials.

Strollers at RT Mart in Taiwan

Up next. . .our clothing choices for light travel.

  1. Future Mama says:

    I think I will be printing all of these posts. Love it. The idea of traveling with just a carry on and no checked bag sounds like something that me and the hubby could do, but with a new baby?! Hmmm, you may have to do a bit more convincing 😉

  2. Cindy says:

    Hi Future Mama! Love that name, by the way. . .I will keep trying to convince you. With a new baby and being a new mama, it may take a bit more convincing, I know…but all the more reason to travel light, since you will have your hands full with a baby! In an upcoming post, I will talk a little bit about the things we bought for the baby in Taiwan. We also packed bags inside of our bags, so as we bought items for the baby, we had someplace to pack the stuff. And we did check bags for our return flight home, because of the extra luggage. But I’ll talk more about that in another post.

  3. Nadine says:

    Thanks for the travel advice. You are so organized. Where are you staying this round in Tainan? Taipei? We loved the Shangri-La in Tainan.

  4. Cindy says:

    Hi Nadine – that’s where I want to stay this time. It looks beautiful! From what I have found online, it looks like the room rates are about $100/night? Does the hotel rate include breakfast? And if so, how was the food?

  5. Cindy says:

    Oh and I’m not sure yet about Taipei.

  6. Future Mama says:

    Thanks Cindy! I will say this…I show my husband your post and he is ALL for no checked luggage, ha!! Can’t wait to see more.

  7. Future Mama says:

    Oh my goodness, “show” should be “showed”…that is what I get for typing too fast!

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