Carry-On Bag Mania

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In the run-up to the Thanksgiving airport crush, here is the question for you: can you go three days - even a week - with just carry-on luggage?

The benefits: You save the $25 or thereabouts that most domestic carriers ding passengers for checking a bag - and you also save a good 30 minutes standing around a baggage carousel whistling seasonal carols as you hope that your bag shows up in one piece without having its contents pilfered by sticky fingered airport personnel.

And then there are the hardcore carry-on travelers who insist it is downright easy to travel a week - some insist two or even three weeks - on the contents of a single carry-on which, generally, cannot exceed 22" long x 14" wide x 9" tall.

That is a snug bag.

Making it work starts with doing some serious planning. Know your itinerary, and bring all but only what you need. Forget "what if" clothing. Your schedule is hectic and there's no time for a workout? Then leave the gym clothes out of the bag and, while you are at this, don't pack a formal gown on the grounds that you "might" need it. Packing for contingencies is a fast track to having to check luggage, and, odds are, you won't use the extra stuff anyway.

Now tune into the specifics used by the carry-on brigade.

* Wear the big stuff, said Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano and a self-professed carry-on flyer. Winter jacket, check. Dressy jacket, check. Maybe a sweater, too. Big boots, check. Wear it all. That's half a suitcase on your body and it all comes aboard with you, free of extra charge.

* Skip the toiletries, buy what you need at your destination, said Donna Maurillo, director, communications and tech transfer at the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose. No matter where you are going, you can buy toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and those other niceties that otherwise would consume a corner in your bag.