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Travel: Pros and Cons of One Bag Travel

Posted by Edward Wang on
Travel: Pros and Cons of One Bag Travel

Pros and Cons of One Bag Travel

By @Travelingsalseros 
Learning to travel with one bag has truly improved my overall trip experience and I can't see myself ever going back to traveling with multiple suitcases and bags. I now feel so free when I am on the go and it has become something of an obsession to see how much I can maximize what I can pack into smaller and smaller bags. With that being said, as with everything in life, one bag travel will not be the best option for everyone and even as an evangelist of this type of travel there are times when having when bag can lead to certain inconveniences. Read on to see the pros and cons that I have noticed throughout my travels with one bag.

Awesome, But Not Necessarily for Everyone

As amazing as it has been to adopt the one bag travel style, I can definitely understand how it might not be for everyone. Many people have larger families that they travel with, or they are going to locations that will require a lot of stuff that is just really tough to fit into a small carry on bag. Other people just really like to travel with multiple outfits to be able to be prepared for all sorts of different events and situations and I can definitely understand that as well.



  • Convenience: when I am heading out for a new adventure there is no more satisfying feeling then arriving at the airport and being able to skip the long line at one of the airline check in counters and head straight to the security line / terminal. 
  • Speed: whether I am boarding or un-boarding a flight, with one bag it is always so easy to just pick up leave without the hassle of having to juggle multiple things. In addition, one of the worst announcements when getting ready to board a flight is that "the flight is full so overhead space is limited and your bag may need to be gate checked". However, when you just have the one bag, it is much less likely you will have to part with it especially if you have a sleek looking travel bag. 
  • Versatility: as I have started traveling to more exotic locales, I have run into all different types of terrain that are just not great to roll a suitcase over. Whether its cobblestone streets, dirt roads, or even just escalators or large crowds, having a bag on your back makes going anywhere much easier than if you had to lug a suitcase or other large bag around with you everywhere. With a comfortable and versatile travel bag, you are more free to explore without having to leave your stuff anywhere. 
  • Thoughtful Packing: when you have the space limitations of traveling with one bag, it can be very rewarding and fun to really think about what you need on your trip. Packing up your bag can be like a puzzle where you are shifting different pieces around until you find the perfect fit. Once you find that configuration that is just right it is a very satisfying feeling. In addition, as you become more experienced traveling in this style, it can become very fun to see how many more items you can remove from the last trip and try to use smaller and smaller bags to make your travel that much simpler.
  • Less Risky than Checking a Bag: if you have seen the film "Meet the Parents" you can get a taste of the inconvenience / horror that can await if you end up having to check a bag and it gets lost. Most likely a lost bag won't be quite as bad as this, but it can be very annoying to deal with so being able to avoid checking a bag or having to part with it on trains or buses, will provide some much needed peace of mind during a hectic trip. 


  • Less Space: this will be the most obvious drawback, but it is still the biggest. When you are traveling with one bag you are making a conscious choice to place a space constraint on yourself and this means you will not be able to take as many outfits or accessories as you would have been able to with multiple bags.
  • Harder to Pack: as mentioned in the pros section, traveling with one bag will require some planning as to what to take in your limited travel space. For some this will be a fun challenge and a refreshing way to have less stuff to worry about on your destination. For others, however, this can be incredibly stressful especially if you are trying to leave some flexibility in what you will be doing when you arrive at your destination. 
  • Risky: even though it can be more secure to travel with one bag as you are less likely to get separated from it, if you do get separated from it or the bag is damaged you will definitely find yourself in a very tricky situation. If you are traveling with more than one bag you will have some redundancy and can even spread some essentials out in multiple spots so that you will not be in too much trouble if a bag is lost or stolen.
  • Heavier / Injuries: one issue we ran into in one of our recent trips is that Izabella hurt her knee pretty early on in the trip and was unable to carry anything heavy for the next two weeks of travel. As you can see in the picture in the title of this post, I was left carrying two bags for almost the entire trip which was a good workout, but got very heavy at some points and if I had gotten injured as well, we would have struggled mightily to move our stuff around for the rest of the trip. 


Hopefully these pros and cons have provided a well rounded look at what it's like to travel with one bag and even if it doesn't work for every trip, I highly encourage everyone to try it out at least once (a short weekend trip is a perfect time to do a quick experiment). This will help to develop the habit of having to really think through what you are packing. This can be a challenging exercise, but it can also be very rewarding and is a skill that can come in valuable in many other areas of your life.


Working full-time jobs as engineers, it's made it difficult to take vacations that last longer than a week or two. These short vacations have allowed them to use their shared obsession with efficiency and optimization to come up with creative ways to take amazing trips to faraway places with a short amount of time. Now he and his wife share their expertise with you! 

Follow him @travelingsalseros on Instagram and Facebook. Check out and his YouTube Channel for more of his in-depth reviews of bags, tips on travel and more.

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