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Always Pack a Foldable Bag

No matter if you think you might do a fair bit of shopping or not when you travel, always pack a thin, lightweight duffel bag, tote or backpack in your carry-on or checked suitcase.

I actually pack a few different ones, depending where I’m going:

I always carry a bag/backpack like this in my carry-on just in case an airline decides to say my bag is too heavy or too big. It can be embarrassing having to stand there and figure out what to do but with a bag like this handy, I can quickly transfer my important things into it without holding up the whole line behind me. I also keep one handy when I’m at travel conferences (they’re starting back up in September) and if I need my laptop, I can throw it in there instead of lugging my roller bag. This lightweight, water-resistant backpack rolls up to practically nothing so it’s super easy to pack and comes in handy for multiple reasons.

It’s handy if you’re going to the beach and need some place to quickly stash wet, sandy clothes and towels.

And if I’m traveling to a shopping destination like London or Bangkok, I pack an Eagle Creek XL duffel bag that comes folded like three pairs of jeans. I also pack it when I travel with my wife and kids since you never know what we will end up having to buy at the destination.

Trust me, it’s way better to be prepared and not scrambling at an airport check-in desk when a strict agent says your bag is overweight. You’ll either have to remove some items or go to the nearest shop and buy an extra bag. It’s usually much cheaper to check two bags than to pay for an overweight bag.

If you’re like my wife and are looking for something stylish (and don’t mind the price tag!), you may prefer something like this Longchamp tote, which she always packs when she travels. It folds down flat making it extremely easy to pack and she says it’s the perfect bag for day trips or if you have extra things to bring home at the end of your trip. It’s also not just a travel bag; she uses it all the time at home for running errands.

Note: If I’m traveling alone but bought some presents for family back home, I always check my dirty clothes and pack the presents and more valuable items in my carry-on so I can bring them onto the plane myself.


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12 Comments On "Pack an Extra Bag"
  1. thepixinator|

    If I’m traveling domestically for at least 5 or 6 days, I save even more money by shipping my week’s worth of clothing & toiletries by UPS Ground a couple of weeks in advance. Like, going to Colorado in the winter, when there’s tons of thick sweaters, socks, and maybe a few Christmas gifts…I just ship it cheaply. I don’t have to pay baggage fees, and I don’t have to schlep it back home. I pack a roll of packing tape in the box and ship it back home when I’m done – you can arrange the home shipment and put the label in the box so it’s all ready to go. It really saves wear and tear on my knees and back while traveling, and keeps me from getting needlessly stressed and irritated by lugging bags around and worrying about whether or not they arrive when and where they’re supposed to. Hotels will hold them; sometimes apartment rentals will, too – you just have to ask.

  2. Craig|

    I travel to Oahu (Hawaii) at least once a year to visit family and I always bring an extra bag (duffel bag) flatten out and stuffed in the side of my suitcase. My family is so generous that I never leave Hawaii without gifts! I also do some shopping for gifts for friends. I usually put all my dirty clothes and some unused clothes in the duffel and pack the gifts in the suitcase. If I end up buying too much, I will either mail stuff like books (gifts) and dirty laundry or I will buy a cheap big suitcase at Walmart or Target. Some suggestions for gifts from Hawaii? Hawaiian music, Kona coffee, candies, macadamia nuts, clothes, regional cookbooks, and art work.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great suggestions! Thanks

  3. Anna|

    My friends always stop by a thrift store (ex: Goodwill) and buy a cheap suitcase or duffel if they need an extra while traveling (they’ve been all over: US, New Zealand, Australia,South Africa, Japan, etc.)….then they donate it to another thrift shop once they get home with all the goodies….I always pack a folded up extra-large tote bag or soft-sided duffle for the additional stuff I bring back……

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Love it!

  4. Robert Johnston|

    Done that many times but now I try to buy less stuff, bring less stuff, but maybe eat at more restaurants (not the pricey ones, but ones you might have to take a taxi to get to). The checking of your clothes is a good tip as they tend to weigh the most of your stuff. I’m even considering leaving the big SLR at home and just getting a 4/3 or smaller. I’ll usually just pack three days of clothes and do laundry every night. I nearly always go someplace tropical though!

  5. Jon|

    My wife and I took an extra full-sized suitcase for our two week trip to New Zealand, packed with gifts for our hosts and cheap towels that we could use to wrap breakable gifts on the way home, or leave behind if we didn’t have room to pack whatever we were bringing home. Our own clothes fit into just one suitcase (we’ve been traveling with carry-ons only for years).

  6. Dan Hawes|

    This year we tried going to the states with just hand luggage then bought cheap Walmart clothes to wear & a $14 holdall to bring all the clothes back in which we checked & our 2 carry on bags were then empty to transport valuables and gifts home in.

  7. g2-db51ece15477e8cad4f8ae4cc5a11649|

    I once did some shopping on a trip, and while it still fit in my suitcase, it put me over the 50lb minimum weight for a free checked bag (Southwest Airlines). So they gave me a choice – pay the $25 fee for overweight, or buy one of their nifty Southwest Airlines duffel bags (generous size!) for $25 and because they offer the 2nd checked bag for free too….it really was an offer to consider! I bought the duffel, separated my stuff out a bit, and now have that handy duffel to pack as suggested in this travel tip :)

    Do other airlines offer a duffel for purchase at the counter? Reasonably priced of course.

  8. MarkfromWashington|

    I love the thrift store idea. The ultimate in recycling is reusing what’s already there and then paying it forward when you’re done using.

  9. Jerry Huller|

    Do you recommend the 16L or 24L size for the 4Monster Hiking Daypack? Which do you use?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I have both. It all depends on how much stuff I plan on bringing back.

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