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Will you be flying as part of your travel? Remember that the airlines limit the number and size of the carry-ons allowed. Some airlines are more strict than others on the size limitations, although this seems to be more the case on very full flights, or during the holidays when people carry lots of shopping bags loaded with wrapped presents.

When you go to the airport, the airlines supply their check-in counter areas with luggage sizers, which are metal frames in which you can "test" your bag. Place your bag inside the sizer. If it doesn't fit, you are supposed to check it in. Of course with travelite, the idea is to avoid packing that much in the first place.

It is important for you to know what the size allowances are. The FAA only specifies a maximum total dimension of 45 inches. Each airline has slight differences. The maximum-allowable bag (I call it a "maxibag"; what Doug Dyment calls a victim of "creeping bloat syndrome" by the manufacturers) for Delta, Northwest and United Airlines are 9" x 14" x 22", while American limits its carry-ons to 9" x 13" x 23". Supposedly, this is the largest that will fit under your seat. To be honest, I have never been able to stuff a maxibag under my seat; I usually end up putting it up in the overhead. In addition, if you use the soft-sided Cordura-fabric travelpacks that I recommend to you in this FAQ, your pack will end up larger than the above size if you stuff it! Here is an easier way to remember the maxibag limit: 21" by 14 "by 7". Everything is in multiples of 7! Handy, huh?

Being forced to use the overhead has some disadvantages. If you board after others in your seating area, some people may have taken up all the overhead room. Did you know that the overhead bin above you is not reserved to your seat? If your maxibag is heavy, you may have to heave it up into the overhead; something difficult if you are not tall. FAA regulations apparently prohibit the flight attendants from heaving them for you as well. Having to retrieve your bag from the overhead also takes extra time if you need to leave the plane right away (e.g. for a tight connection). On the other hand, bags that fit under the seat can be used as an ottoman or foot stool (especially for short-legged folks like me). If you have a little "flight bag" like I do (that includes ear plugs, eyeshade, etc.), you might want to take that out before you stash your maxibag in the overhead; your other option might be to use a travelpack with a zip-off day pack, so you can leave the day pack by your feet for easy access.

Most airlines limit you to two carry-ons. However, there are some items that are not counted toward your carry-on allowance. These include things such as umbrellas, cameras, and small purses. However, be aware that large hefty camera bags and purses [yes ladies--you know what kind I mean! I used to carry large purses with me that had three-year-old rolls of Life Savers that magnetically attracted lint balls. I called my purse "the Black Hole" because things got sucked in and I never saw them again] do get counted as their own carry-ons, and not freebies.

If you are used to domestic travel in the US, you will be surprised that the airlines tend to be stricter about this carry-on limit on international flights. Apparently, carry-ons when weighed in pounds aren't too heavy--but as soon as they get beyond our own borders, the weight of our bags somehow convert themselves to kilograms--and whoa nelly--cursed are those kilogram-heavy carry-on bags! If there is more than one unit of them, down they go to the plane's underbelly!

Do keep in mind that "trying to get away with as much as you can carry on" is not in line with the travelite philosophy. Those who overload themselves in the cabin become nuisances to others. How many times have YOU been hit in the face with a shoulder bag of someone walking past you in the aisle? Seen too-heavy bags fall from the overhead bin onto a passenger's head? Seen someone taking up more than a reasonable amount of overhead bin space?

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