One of the more clever magic items from D&D is the classic bag of holding. These magical bags open to an extradimensional space and can be stuffed full of things (generally loot taken from their previous owners). They do, however, have some flaws-like if you put one inside another it rips a hole in reality. But that is a small price to pay for such convenience.
The reason why I mention these bags is because I recently flew to Maine and witnessed the usual scene of people trying to stuff massive bags and huge items into the carry-on bins. I can, of course, understand the desire to avoid paying the bag fee (if only on the basis of principle). However, no amount of cramming or attempts at deceit (“oh, this really is a carry on…it just looks like a Uhaul trailer”) will change the way space works and certain things (or amounts of things) will simply not fit into a bin or under a seat.
In my case, I am able to largely bypass the problem. When I go to Maine, I am going to visit my family and hence can leave stuff there rather than needing to carry everything with me. This saves a considerable amount of luggage space. However, a little smart packing also goes a long way:
- I only bring what I will need. If I don’t think I’ll need it, it stays home. If I find I cannot do without, I can always buy another one (assuming it is not something expensive).
- I roll up my clothes. This is not a great option for professional travel, but when you just have casual clothes, it is usually fine.
- Travel size is the way to go. Also, anything bulky but cheap can be bought on arrival.
- Backpacks are way better than anything else. They are easy to carry, compress well and you can get them with all sorts of pockets and compartments (such as the all important running shoe compartment).
- Messenger bags usually count as a “personal item” and can be packed with important and expensive stuff, just in case the backpack has to be checked (usually because some tools have managed to stuff huge duffel bags into all the overhead bins).
- While I do carry magazines for times when electronics cannot be used, my Kindle has taken the place of the books I used to carry with me (I am a voracious reader and have a pathological need to always have books). I considered a tablet, but the Kindle is tougher and cheaper than the tablets.
- I carry a cheap netbook-it is lighter than a full laptop but is far more useful than a tablet. Plus it is less likely to be stolen-people are looking for iPad2s and the top Android tablets to jack.