Statistics like, “42 million suitcases mishandled last year,” never bother me. I’ve only checked my bag five times in the past thirty years. Flying standby can mean a last minute dash to the gate and late check-in is one reason bags go astray. Travelling light also saves you money by avoiding checked luggage fees and increases your mobility, making it easier to accept an airline’s overbloging incentives.

Skip carousel chaos and lost luggage limbo by packing smart. The two components to successful one-bag travel are clothes and toiletries. For any season, layered clothing means lightweight tops in silk, cotton or merino wool that can be mixed and matched. Men can wear a silk or cotton T-shirt alone or under a shirt or sweater. Women can dress in a twin set cardigan or pair a sleeveless top with a shawl.

You’ll still need coverage for tropical destinations, for both in-flight and after arrival, as air-conditioning can be bone chilling. In colder weather, camisoles or vests add extra warmth and opaque tights can be worn with skirts or under slacks. I always pack a hat and scarf, though they may range from a straw hat and sarong to a beret and wool scarf. In winter, I bring a pair of leather gloves.


I would never suggest that you try to sneak a huge bulging suitcase past a check-in agent, security officer and drag it on board. That’s one sure way to get your flight attendant to hate you but if you pack smart, you won’t need to pack as much.

I’ve successfully toured for up to ten days with only one regulation-sized carry-on. On longer trips, dry cleaners are an economical option. And avoiding costly hotel services is easier than you think. I don’t speak much Spanish but the clerk at the dry cleaners next to the crew hotel in Santiago understood that I needed my uniform blouse washed and pressed by manana at noon.

FA TIP: For creative packing tips and current regulations, visit and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website.

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