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5 Tips Whether to Check Your Bag to Beat Airport Lines

Beat Airport Lines 5 Tips Whether to Check Your Bag.  Carry-on bags can take more time to go through security.  With frequent long security lines and allowances for carry-on’s getting smaller, when is it better to check your bag? While this year’s crowds are smaller, getting stuck with your bag as a solo traveler can be a pain.  In making my way traveling alone abroad, I am often surprised to find there is no escalator and the elevator is not nearby.

You can easily recognize fierce proponents of traveling light. How? Those are the ones  wearing everything they couldn’t pack! However, that layered look is not exactly runway-ready.

Since my student days, I have considered packing  light almost an art form. Three “milestones” stand out as to my top moments of “packing like a pro”! For my first long-term domestic solo travel destination, I chose an open-ended bus ticket for “America”.  For five weeks I traveled across the US with only an overnight bag and no overnight reservations. Flying home from Los Angeles, I had just two dollars left and was also late arriving at my college student job. The good news?  I never had to drag a heavy bag six thousand miles!

My second feat was spending a summer exchange program in Europe. Again I was determined to travel light  with only that same small overnight bag.  What was the downside? My host family had the curious impression that even for a student I must have a really small clothes budget!

My third “triumph” packing light: I was in the gate awaiting an international flight. Two couples approached me. They asked if all I had was my small carry-on roller-bag.  I confessed that was absolutely true! They then asked if they could recruit me to give them a quick tutorial on how to pack light.

One recent summer I faced this issue again of how light to pack when connecting with a tour in India. The problem ahead was that we would be moving around to multiple hotels  As a result, I was forced to rethink how much to pack knowing I would be unpacking and repacking for week. While a river cruise makes it easy to pack since you only unpack once. However, even a top stateroom on a 5-star cruise has very small closet or storage space.

I have come up with five tips to consider packing before your next trip.

Beat Airport Lines 5 Tips Whether to Check Your Bag:

Tip One:  Checking my bag ahead of time will shorten time going through security. As everyone knows, security has been increased in the years since 9/11. Even in more tranquil times, certain airlines or destinations have had an added check of carry-on luggage at the gate. Do think about what happens when you check your bag for an overseas, overnight flight. When you get to your destination, you will be waiting behind three hundred people waiting to get their bags back, too!

Tip Two:  The more you carry the slower you will be on making a tight connection.  I have been surprised at the international connections that were only forty-five minutes apart. Even if there is no delay on the original flight and airlines are allowed to sell such connections, this is too little time. A good example? On a past Christmas and New Year’s holiday trip, I flew to Cambodia to connect with a Mekong Delta cruise. From Vietnam, I was traveling on solo to Thailand.  My first flight was non-stop Washington to Beijing.  I was on China Air connecting with their flight to Bangkok. Sounds easy?  One thing to remember: Even if you are not leaving the airport, you must go through immigration and passport control. Then you may change terminals. Next you will go through security yet again although having never left a secure area.  I dashed through Beijing’s enormous airport and was the last one on the plane.

In Spain, my ski group had the same problem. As some of us ran ahead, part of our group was still in line. They missed their flight to the US and had no reservations to spend the night.

Tip Three:  Having to babysit luggage during long layovers can be exhausting.  Consider: Will you finally feel like you are toting a one-ton cement pylon? What if the handle or wheels break? The attachment between my roller-bag and computer bag/tote bag never stays shut. The result? I have to juggle to keep from losing part of my belongings!

Beat Airport Lines 5 Tips Whether to Check Your Bag:

Tip Four: You may have your bag snatched away from you at the gate. In addition to the dreaded shrinking carry-on allowance, there is a second phenomenon. That is the shrinking plane! The result? Even for overseas flights, small roller-bag may be  too large. Even if you make it through the jetway with your overstuffed bag, small planes mean small overhead bins. If you are last to board, no empty bins may remain. Away your carry-on bag goes into the uncertain world of checked luggage!

Tip Five: Prepare for last minute separations. What if you plan to carry-on and at the last minute are separated? It is important to have a tote bag or “one personal item” in the right measurement and weight allowed by your airlines. On vacations and business trips, I have often f aced this challenge. The result? I ended up cradling my laptop in my arms the entire flight absent the right tote.

Before you despair and start planning a staycation, think about the benefits of  having checked your bag:

  1. Quicker travel through security and crowded airports.
  2. No more knocking down entire magazine racks in airport shops.
  3. No need to find a reliable fellow-traveler to watch your luggage while you dart into the restroom.
  4. An end to trying to navigate an airport coffee shop or food court with a wide load.
  5. Knowing when you arrive and your bag doesn’t, you can shop for a new wardrobe at your destination.

For more packing tips and customizable lists, go to our free Solo Sherpa app. It is available at the App Store and for Android devices at the Google Play Store.


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