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I am travelling solely with carry-on luggage for a conference/business event and must bring my laptop with me. Since I think it would be too much to go everyday to the meeting with the carry-on luggage, I am looking for tips from experienced travellers on how to manage this situation.

Is there a smart and practical way to pack the laptop to solve this problem? I'm imagining something like a laptop bag inside the carry-on.

  • @Tom: some/more expensive/US airlines. Many don't. On others you may need to put your laptop bag inside a plastic bag from the duty-free shop. – Chris H Mar 14 '16 at 9:03
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    My laptop used to travel in my briefcase, which was my "personal" item, which most airlines I have flown allow in addition to your carry on. – user13044 Mar 14 '16 at 10:54
  • @ChrisH - OK so I haven't flown every budget airline in Europe. I edited my comment. Happy? – user13044 Mar 14 '16 at 10:54
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    @Tom you didn't have to, but thanks. – Chris H Mar 14 '16 at 12:36
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    All depends on your airline. BA, as with many but not airlines, allows a laptop bag or handbag in addition to your carry-on cabin bag, so when flying on airlines like that you just bring both bags aboard – Gagravarr Mar 14 '16 at 12:43
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I am operating with an MLC backpack both on plane and at conference and if it's slightly larger than the locals daypack -- oh well. It would work less well with a rolling carry on of course. eBags Mother Lode Convertible (I used this before), Tortuga, Patagonia etc etc the list is endless of these backpacks. (I am experimenting with a Magma Control-Backpack XL currently but unless you also want to carry on a 19.5" monitor, that's probably not the best choice.)

Another solution is to put the 240gr Bach Itsy Bitsy backpack (which I also have) in the carry on (or checked in). The backpack is big enough: even my T420 laptop+sleeve fit in there and provides structure. Your laptop is likely thinner and lighter. Unlike most such collapsible backpacks this is strategically reinforced where necessary so while it's very low weight you can carry like 4-5 kgs in it without a problem. Probably even more but I didn't dare to test further.

Finally, you can just carry your normal laptop backpack (my choice is the Briggs & Riley Verb Activate but many are good choices, this just happens to be the best :P ) and a small duffel (there's no competition here, the Red Oxx XS Aviator is where it is) as a personal item and check in everything else in a suitcase. I did this before as well.

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My preferred solution: backpack + carry on bag with wheels

  1. Everything important and what you need in the air goes in the backpack: laptop, mouse, power supply, USB cable, passports, money, travel docs, tablet, book, food, water, noise cancelling ear phones, etc.
  2. Everything else goes in the carry on
  3. Carry on goes in the overhead bin, backpack goes under the seat (so it's always accessible even if the seat belt sign is on for 5 hours straight)
  4. Make sure nothing really important is in the carry on. It's not unusual for regulation sized carry-ons to be force checked anyway because it's either a small plane with undersized bins or the overhead bins are already full by the time you get on. If it's a "must have" it goes under the seat.
  5. It's helpful to plan the layout of the backpack up front and memorize it. Once in the seat, there is almost no room to rummage around in there and lighting tends to be bad.
  6. Backpack handle should fit over carry on handle so you can wheel the whole thing as a single set while keeping your hands and back free. It's also easier to get to your papers during check in, immigration, security, etc.
  7. Carry on should have 4 wheels that can all pivot independently, this allow tight turns and makes it easier to navigate narrow aircraft isles.

I have probably done half a million miles this way.

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