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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 9, 2010

Packing without even a carry-on? Bring it on

By Ross Werland
Chicago Tribune

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Between a shoulder bag and a 17-pocket jacket, it's possible to fit quite a bit without a full-fledged carry-on.

BILL HOGAN | Chicago Tribune via MCT

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When Spirit Airlines broke new ground by announcing that it will charge passengers $45 for carry-on bags starting Aug. 1, I took it as a personal challenge. I had to prove I could travel without even a carry-on.

The answer is in what the airlines call a "personal item." That typically is a briefcase, purse or, in Spirit's case, its website even shows a small backpack. To prove my case, I used a Case Logic bag measuring a mere 13 by 9 by 4 inches and an SeV/Scottevest Pack Windbreaker, with its 17 pockets ($75 from scottevest.com).

Though the case is meant to carry a netbook and a few other miscellaneous items, it's certainly not meant as luggage. But I was able to pack a long weekend in there.

In the case: two pairs of polyester-cotton pants that refuse to wrinkle, three cotton T-shirts that look good wrinkled, three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, one pair of swimming trunks, one hairbrush and a sunglass case. It was very lightweight but tightly packed.

In the jacket, which also packs away into its own pocket: one BlackBerry; one phone charger; one digital camera; one MP3 player; toiletries, including toothbrush, toothpaste, flossers, stick deodorant and suntan lotion; my wallet and keys. If I'd felt the need, I could have put a pair of "crushable" shoes in the jacket, something like a pair of Converse canvas uppers.

Though I didn't fly with them, I did spend about three hours on a train with the jacket and bag, and walked a mile and a half. Nooooo problem.

The bag could have gone under a plane seat and left plenty of foot room. The jacket did feel a little lumpy on the train, but aesthetically, no one could tell I had it packed. In fact, it would have held more.

Bottom line: We can do this!