How I Use a Single Carry-On Bag to Travel Lighter

Ever since I did a video blog of my laptop bag, I have wanted to do one on my current carry-on bag. However, after watching George Clooney in Up on the Air, I was inspired to see if I could ditch my laptop bag and get everything into one carry-on. I even found a web site called “One Bag” that is devoted to this concept. Thankfully, my MacBook Air has made this possible.

So six weeks ago, I stopped carrying my laptop bag—at least on overnight trips. In fact, I am only using a separate laptop bag when the trip is longer than two nights. This may sound trivial, but traveling with just one bag has made a big difference for me. I arrive at my destination more rested, without the stress of keeping up with two bags.

I demonstrate how I pack my carry-on in the video above. However, I thought it might be helpful for me to describe my process in case you would rather read than watch.

  1. Start with the right suitcase. I use the Eagle Creek Travel Gear Tarmac 22 Carry-on. I love all their products, as you will soon see. I bought this bag several months ago after Chris Brogan recommended it. It has multiple compartments and makes very efficient use of the space. It is the best overnight bag I have ever owned.
  2. Pack your dress clothes. I pack my shoes first. The Tarmac 22 even has a sealed compartment for them. This protects your clothing if your shoes happen to be soiled. I then carefully fold my suit and dress shirt, wrapping them in the thin plastic I get back from the dry cleaners. This keeps fabric from rubbing against fabric, dramatically—though not entirely—reducing wrinkles.
  3. Pack other interior items. I then pack my underwear, pajamas, belt and a Philips goLITE Blu Light Therapy Device. (I have written about this last item here. I use it for 30 minutes a day during the winter months.) I use an Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Quick Trip for my shaving bag.
  4. Pack an electronic cables bag. I use an Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Half Tube Cube. This is what I use to put my MacBook Air power cord, mini-DVI to VGA convertor, mini-DVI to HDMI convertor (for newer projectors), KeySpan “Easy Presenter” Remote Control for clicking through slides (along with a spare battery). When I speak, I just hand my laptop and this bag to the production tech, and they have everything they need to get me set up.
  5. Pack an in-flight bag. I use an Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Quarter Cube. I store this on the outside flap of the Tarmac 22, along with my bag of liquids. This makes it easy to get to at security, at the gate, and in-flight. Inside the bag is a Verizon USB760 Wireless Modem (which I wish Apple would build into the Air like they have done the iPad), a Kingston 16GB Data Traveler flash drive, MagSafe Airline Power Adapter, Shure Noise-Canceling Headphones (various models are available), a few snacks, and over-the-counter medicines.

You may be thinking, what about workout clothes and running shoes? I generally don’t take these unless I am going to be gone more than a day. If I do, I plan my wardrobe, so I can get by with one set of dress shoes and pack my running shoes instead. The Tarmac 22 has plenty of room for the extra clothes.

Also, I use the Belkin Black Neoprene Air Sleeve for Macbook. It provides protection from scratches and is very low profile.

Note: Thanks to Nancy Duarte and her magnificent team at Duarte Design for creating my new video intro and outro. I love the work they do!

Question: What tips and tricks have you found that make packing and traveling easier? You can leave a comment by clicking here.