8

With the rise of charges for checked luggage, more recently charging for carry-ons (for example, on Spirit Airlines), it is quite possible that there will soon be charges for personal items too.

Is it possible to travel with no luggage? I mean, if one is traveling for a week to a vacation spot, is it possible to do so with no luggage? How does one go about this?

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    I'm not sure what kind of answer you're looking for, other than the obvious "acquire everything you need after you arrive at your destination". It'll depend greatly on how much stuff you need/want, how often you want to change or wash your clothes, etc. – Nate Eldredge Nov 14 '17 at 16:54
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    @Max In my experience, Border control people think it is a bit silly when you tell them you've been gone for 4 weeks and have small or no luggage. Security lines in airport think you've just checked everything. – axsvl77 Nov 14 '17 at 17:04
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    Wear cargo pants and a coat with several large pockets too. – Weather Vane Nov 14 '17 at 17:52
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    Note! it's harder to do this in winter. You simply need more stuff in winter. – Fattie Nov 14 '17 at 19:37
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    Sorry, but this question should be closed as either opinion based or far too broad, depending on where you are going and what you are planning to do. Three very obvious solutions would be to either buy everything you need at your destination and throw it away before going home, spend your entire vacation in the same clothes, ignoring that other people find you disgusting, or travel dressed in two sets of clothes to have at least one set of change, which you can wash while wearing the other set when you are at the destination. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 14 '17 at 21:26
18

Ship your luggage in advance

If you plan in advance, you can send your luggage via ground shipping. This happens often in countries where people travel by rail and have to handle their own luggage otherwise. Also, if you have multiple pieces, bulky items like skis, or are severely overweight, shipping can be much cheaper than paying the airline.

This also works well on the return trip: you don't need your dirty clothes or toiletries immediately when returning home, so they can show up a few days later.

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    It is generally extremely expensive. Much more than fees would be to add luggage. Just this year I found out it was more expensive to ship than to actually buy tickets with luggage allowance in South America! International rates from the US or Canada are also very high. – Itai Nov 14 '17 at 19:21
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    @Itai All depends where you are and the distance its going. In Japan, you can overnight a bag, door-to-door, for under $25. They have airport locations for this purpose. – user71659 Nov 14 '17 at 20:24
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    @Itai Another example, DHL will deliver a 20 kg suitcase from London to Germany for $13 in 2-3 days, door-to-door. – user71659 Nov 14 '17 at 20:48
  • Those are amazing prices! Will keep that in mind for the net time it's needed. – Itai Nov 14 '17 at 21:22
  • @user71659 Parcels from UK to Germany have lately usually been delayed by German customs for at least 3-4 working days. In practice, parcels sent with e.g. Royal Mail International Business Tracked take anything between 2 and 10 calendar days from UK to Germany. Most international courier services, unless explicitely including express customs clearance, have in their fine prints that any delay in customs come in addition to their estimated delivery times. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 14 '17 at 22:21
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There are a few tricks, in my experience, that make this possible.

Simple Case

In the summertime, there is very little need for heavy clothing. If your destination is warm, one can board a plane, train or bus wearing just shorts, shirt, underwear, a hat, and sandals. Basically, just bring nothing besides wallet, passport, and toothbrush.

While it is possible to re-wear your clothing day after day, most people find this a bit gross. So clothing should be washed at the end of each day! Its easy - just start taking a shower with all your cloths on, and wash & rinse each piece of clothing with body wash or soap before you taking it off. Hang the clothing to dry while you are sleeping, and you'll have fresh clothing in the morning.

Complicated Case

What if you will go to the beach, and you don't want to swim in your shorts? What if the place you are going is too humid, and your shirt won't dry overnight? What if you are staying in a youth hostel, and thus can't sleep naked?

In this case, wear the bathing suit and any other spare clothing onto the airplane. Bring an empty plastic grocery bag in your pocket. Once on the final leg of your journey, you can stick the excess clothing into the plastic bag.

Very Easy Case

If you are going to visit someone, just make plans to borrow their clothing while you are there.

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    Someone might not agree that in a youth hostel you can’t sleep naked! ;) – Marco Nov 14 '17 at 21:09
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    Theories, nothing more. In reality, the above is quite impossible to apply. – Nean Der Thal Nov 14 '17 at 21:33
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    @tor-einar-jarnbjo I do this sometimes and I find that it is very possible for clothing to dry othernight. To speed things up, you can hang them in front of a window facing the sun, or place on a dry towel (exchange this a few times). If there's a heater in the room, turn it on, place the clothing on top and it will dry in no time. Even if the clothing is still a little damp in the morning, it can be worn no problem; no one will notice this and it will dry the rest of the way very quickly once you've put it on. – Whiss1990 Nov 14 '17 at 21:57
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo, drying time really depends on what your clothes are made out of. Cotton can easily hold water for a day or more, while some synthetics will dry in a matter of minutes (I joke that my hiking pants dry out shortly before the rain stops). – Mark Nov 14 '17 at 22:34
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    @tor-einar-jarnbjo Sorry, 'heater' was a mistranslation. I meant a plain old water-based radiator; absolutely no fire hazard there. Sun could vary of course, but if you can get, say, 2 hours of sun from 7 till 9 that should be enough (unless you're an early riser). – Whiss1990 Nov 14 '17 at 22:57
10

I don't think it works going for anywhere, but here are some thoughts to start with:

  • If you live away from family/parents, zero luggage is rather easy, as you might be able to leave clothes and stuff at their place (just enough for the average stay. Plus, you don't have to worry about where to wash them).
  • If your flight arrives at noon, you will have an entire afternoon to go shopping for clothes and toiletries you need for the week (you didn't ask for cheap).
  • If you have clothes made of fast-drying fabric, you might be able to wash them in the sink just before you go to sleep, then leave them dry overnight. A hairdryer might also be helpful.
  • Wear several layers of clothes during the flight (especially helpful if you're going from a rather cold place to a warmer one)
  • Go somewhere, where you don't need to wear anything but swimwear for the entire week.
  • Get an "Airport Jacket" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTY4Hc0m2i4 or something similar (not affiliated in any way)
  • Do a combination of above, shop but just for a one set of clothes and some swimwear, leave one set of clothing when you return home. If you like your swimwear, you can often mail that home for little cost or just put it in your pocket when dry. – Willeke Nov 15 '17 at 16:33
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In this TED Talk, Jessi Arrington suggests packing just your underwear. Buy all of your clothes at a thrift shop on arrival, then donate it back when you leave.

  • Obviously this relies on travelling to somewhere which has thrift shops. – Peter Taylor Nov 15 '17 at 14:42
  • @PeterTaylor This method obviously doesn't work for all itineraries. If you try this when going to Switzerland, it's going to backfire badly. – 200_success Nov 15 '17 at 14:48
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I'd just like to point out that if you are entering other countries and clearing customs and immigration to do so, the border officers of the destination country may find it very curious that you have nothing with you, particularly if you are not leaving the country later that same day. That may slow things down for you at the immigration point, and will likely result in secondary inspection.

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    Ever had this happen? When I crossed by land Mexico -> USA after weeks with no luggage, there was only some silly joking around. What border did you have this problem? – axsvl77 Nov 14 '17 at 18:20
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    Last time I went overseas, I carried my wife's carryon with me (hers was a wheeled bag, I put my unwheeled bag on top of hers), we went to different customs lines and she didn't arouse any suspicion despite appearing as though she had no luggage. – Johnny Nov 14 '17 at 20:28
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    @axsvl77 It's not an issue coming into your own country, but I've heard of incidents (e.g. people doing airline point milk runs) getting strange questions because the passenger is coming without any significant baggage. In that case they have an immediate flight out to demonstrate what they are doing. Coming into your own country, you have a right of entry, so you can have a weird story and they don't care. – Jim MacKenzie Nov 14 '17 at 20:41
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    I can confirm I have been given extra security screening if I travel with no luggage. It is suspicious to appear so different from other travelers. – Douglas Held Nov 14 '17 at 20:49
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    I've seen American customs hassle non-retired people that are travelling without a normal amount of luggage. The suspicion is that a visitor who does not have luggage may have a residence there. And someone who has a residence there and is of working age has a higher likelihood of being out of immigration status. – Spehro Pefhany Nov 15 '17 at 20:00
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I think it unlikely that carry-ons will be completely banned, or have charges against them.

This, for the likely consequence being that people will start to wear as much as possible. And it's possible to wear a lot.

Here's one example. But, I think I remember there being several.

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    Carry-on has occasionally been banned short-term in response to serious emergencies. I think they made everyone check all luggage for a few days after the liquid explosives plot, for example. – David Richerby Nov 14 '17 at 18:46
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    Some airlines already charge for carry-on items, so this future may not be as unlikely as you think. – Nuclear Wang Nov 14 '17 at 21:01
  • @NuclearWang - Please back that assertion up with some evidence. I know of some low cost carriers charging for a "carry-on" but they still allow a "personal bag" for free; this "personal bag" being the size of a large handbag or a ("normal" / 30L) backpack. I know of no carrier who charges for "personal bags". And denying that "personal bags" are a type of carry-on would be ludicrous. – AndyT Nov 15 '17 at 9:55
  • @AndyT Not sure why you're requesting evidence, as you are apparently already familiar with the carriers who charge for carry-ons, and I made no statement about personal items. While in everyday parlance, a "personal item" is indeed "carried on" to the plane, a "personal item" and a "carry on" are not the same thing from the airline's perspective. Arguing the semantics might be ludicrous, but won't get you very far with them. – Nuclear Wang Nov 15 '17 at 13:39
  • @NuclearWang - I'm not planning on arguing the semantics with a carrier, I was saying that you arguing the semantics with me would be ludicrous. But... reading this answer again I think your original comment might have been intended to mean "Some airlines already charge for {some} carry-on items" whereas I interpreted it as "Some airlines already {refuse you any carry-on without charge}". Silly AndyT; my apologies. – AndyT Nov 15 '17 at 14:39
4

Great yet overly broad question. It is possible to travel without much but it is not possible to do so for any type of travel or destination and certainly not without compensating for it in money.

At the very least you need to have proper ID which will include passport for international travel. You will either have physical boarding passes on you or a phone, in which case you probably are going to take a charger and cable with you too. You must have all prescription medicines you normally take with you too since those are difficult to get in a good percentage of countries. Some airlines already charge for carry-on but so far they all allow personal items, I really don't think they can go away. Even though many of these things can be inserted into vest or jacket pockets, that space has limits for comfort. Sometimes I was forced to carry a huge load (6-8kg) on a vest to satisfy carry-on limits and I felt rather squeezed, particularly since economy seats are not roomy.

Toiletries can probably be done without as many hotels provide them. Depends on your needs but if you shave for example, getting the whole razor, blade, shaving gel, aftershave kit at each destination might not be easy or cheap. Sunscreen can be exorbitant if you buy it at your destination and I know of no hotel that gives some for free. I recall running out of it in Cuba and the smallest bottle was over $25 USD.

You need clothes. Sure you can wash the ones you are wearing over and over but what are you going to wear while doing laundry? You might also need clothes that are different than your travel ones if you are heading to a different climate. Canadiana often leave from a -30C airport in shorts to avoid taking a heavy jacket and boots to a +30C destination! They look really frozen while waiting for a taxi on the way back.

You can travel between places you or your family has homes and stash a set of clothes in each place but that is fairly limiting. If you are travelling to a typical vacation spot such as a Caribbean island and you have no place there already, there is not much choice. If you were rich you could shop for clothes and buy toiletries at each destination but it takes time and do you really want to spend your vacation looking for what you will wear and then abandon a few days later. If you have no luggage to go, then you probably don't want any to come back with.

2

Yes. You can travel with less than 3kgs of luggage. Just bring your clothes or buy them there.

I traveled for 6 weeks in Europe in about 12 Cities. It cost me nothing ( < $2,000USD all in ), I traveled with about 5kg of stuff and I never felt like I was "missing out" because I didn't lug around a huge suitcase. Everything is available for you in the locations you're traveling to. Everything.

You don't need a:

  • Laptop
  • Phone
  • Notebook

Also: Carry on isn't going anywhere. Do we charge for train carry on after how many hundreds of years?

  • We don't but as per OP's example, Spirit does. – Иво Недев Nov 16 '17 at 8:04
  • Current bag prices are available here. One personal item that fits in the smaller sizer box (like a small backpack) is included with your ticket (Bare Fare™). here Does it? – insidesin Nov 16 '17 at 23:50
2

All my experience comes from EU travel so keep that in mind.

Most answers suggest buying your stuff but is it really worth it to not pay 40-50£ for a return checked 20kg luggage ?

Hand luggage you can take with you on the plain is free for every airline I've used here in the EU. I'd very frequently just pack all my week's necessitates in that carry-on and travel. If you're good enough packer you can very easily fit everything you'd need for a week+ and have room to spare. Being male I don't need that much liquid crap on me.

Here are some tricks though:

For this one you'd have to have been on the airport before. Airlines allow for the duty-free bags to go on their planes without counting them as your luggage. I used to have one bag from an airport I'd frequently take off from, that can be 2-5kg of extra stuff you can take.

The easier option you can always do is just stuff your clothes one inside the other. Once I didn't have any room or KG allowance on my carry-on so inside my overcoat i had a hoodie, inside it I had another, inside it I had couple of shirts, had the coat on my arm the whole time - zero problems not counting the slight inconvenience of carrying it around.

I'd recommend the stuffed coat + carry on as your cheapest most hassle free option, especially if you're going on a vacation and wouldn't like spending time in overpriced malls looking for a shirt, instead of the beach.

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