Lessons Learned: Traveling with Carry-On Only Luggage with Two Kids

Lessons Learned: Traveling with Carry-On Only Luggage with Two Kids

Before having kids, it was a no-brainer for us to always exclusively travel with carry-on luggage. We loved the convenience of avoiding lines at the airport, as well as the comfort of knowing that our luggage would never be lost.

After having kids, carry-on only seemed like a distant memory… until we actually did it this summer during our 6-week trip across Italy, France and Spain. To see how we packed, click here for our detailed packing guide. Here are the lessons we learned:


  1. Avoid Losing Luggage. Especially during peak travel season where delays, missed connections, and lost luggage are the norm, having the peace of mind that all your children’s essentials are with you at all times is priceless.
  2. Faster Check-Ins and Exits. Skip the long lines at check-in and baggage claim, and get through the airport quicker.
  3. Enhanced Mobility. Move effortlessly between different modes of transportation and explore various destinations without the burden of heavy check-in luggage weighing you down. Comfortably carry all your belongings without depending on a luggage cart, or needing others to lend a helping hand. This was especially handy as we boarded trains, boats and taxis (no need to split into multiple cars!).
  4. Reduced Travel Costs. Avoid additional fees associated with check-in baggage.
  5. Minimize Re-Packing Stress. When your trip involves staying at multiple destinations, embracing the simplicity of packing light(er) significantly reduces the need for excessive planning and organization when re-packing to move from place to place.
  6. Chance to Explore. Packing fewer toys / items from home is a natural way to nudge kids out of their comfort zones and help them focus on exploring their new surroundings. This was especially true for our kids who spent so much quality time together exploring and discovering new spaces and places.
Rental Car with our Luggage
All our belongings neatly in the trunk of our rental car :)


  1. Restricted Item Choices. Balancing essential items and personal preferences within the limited space can be a challenging — prioritization and openness to locally available products (e.g. diapers, formula) are critical!
  2. Boarding the Flight Can Be More Challenging. If you’re accustomed to check-in luggage, switching to having carry-on luggage with you when boarding a flight may be a bit trickier as you'll now need to juggle multiple pieces while getting on the plane.
Boarding Ryain Air with the Hideaway Duffel
Boarding Ryan Air with our carry-on luggage


While traveling through Italy / France / Spain with our 4-year-old and 1.5-year-old, we:

  • Stayed in 10 different Airbnbs / hotels
  • Took 7 different flights (incl. the 10-hour journey to get to Europe)
  • Traveled by train, water taxi, ferry boat, bus, Ubers
  • Rented a car for 7 days

We are so happy to have had a smaller luggage footprint (thanks to the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel!) to make every transition and move to a new place so much easier. Packing, unpacking, and repacking was especially a breeze. While this is a highly personal choice, we’re excited to practice a more carry-on heavy style of traveling going forward after this experience.

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