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Gear and equipment

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The carry on debate

Posted by super_collider on 4/2/2010 at 05:15

Hi there,

So I'm heading out on my first long term travel adventure this November, still a while yet, but can't wait.

From reading the various posts regarding travelling with just a carry on, I'm still undecided. I really want reports from people who have done this. I understand size limitations vary, but curious to know how many people have had their hand luggage weighed and if so whether problems have been encountered.

I'm starting in India and taking it from there, on my list of possible destinations are Vietnam, Loas, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines. in terms of time, I guess until my money runs out, but realistically 6-9months

Ideally I would like to take the largest capacity backpack that will pass as hand luggage.

I would be most grateful for any responses from people who have just taken a carry on. I don't mind being conservative with the amount of clothing, but I will be taking a heavy 35mm camera that i can't face leaving!



#1 super_collider has been a member since 2/2/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by somtam2000 on 4/2/2010 at 08:40 admin

I generally just take one small pack when travelling alone, this isn't the exact model, but it is very close: Victorinox pack. Into this I can easily fit my laptop, a couple of changes of clothes, some notebooks and all the cabling chargers etc. If I take a digital SLR it will just fit in, but I prefer to carry it on my shoulder.

A bag like this easily gets on as carry on for flying and capacity wise is about 40 litres. I wouldn't want to go much smaller than this.

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,089

Posted by DLuek on 4/2/2010 at 10:50 TF writer

Yeah you can bring a pretty large bag as a carry on in most cases. I used to bring a large backpack as a carry on without any problem. Now I actually use a DJ bag that's meant for holding records, a laptop and such - much smaller than a big backpack but still plenty big. Then I bring a small camera bag as well, which actually fits into the DJ bag if I need it to. One issue is that you can't (or at least you couldn't last time I travelled) bring any liquids (i.e. shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, etc.) in your carry on. So you either need to check those things in a small bag or just buy new stuff after every time you fly. Although, while this is definitely still the case in the US and probably UK, they may have loosened this policy in Asian countries by now.

#3 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,346

Posted by Gorey on 4/2/2010 at 11:23

When im fortunate enough to get a sort of 'home base' in Thailand i just take a smallish pack (40l though norm half full) around which can easily be carry-on infact when checking into a flight the person behind the desk always assumes i have no check in luggage (i do check in the bag though as i dont take anything remotely valuable).

Using various airlines such as AirAsia, NokAir, Bangkok Airways, JetStar, Qatar, emirates and Cathay in the region none have ever weighed my carry on they have made sure its within the measurements they give for carry-on (qatar/bangkok/jetstar). They did this just before boarding though i had to repack my bag and pull the straps as tight as i could before they let me onboard when my bag didn't fit. Some people were forced to put everything into plastic bags or have their bag checked into the hold.

My parents just came back from Thailand and Hong Kong and they said that liquid were still banned and was infact stricter than previous years with things bought after checking in not being alloud through security/boarder in Bangkok and Hong Kong.

#4 Gorey has been a member since 26/3/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 58

Posted by MADMAC on 4/2/2010 at 15:35

I really think people should follow the rules issued by the airlines. IT puts everyone in a difficult position if you bring on a carry on that can't be stowed properly. Just find out what the measurements and weights are, and go with that.

If you can't fit what you want within those parameters, then just check a bag. It's not a big deal.

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by wanderlust2010 on 14/4/2010 at 23:20

Question to the group -

Understanding that each airline may have different limitations, what would you say is the largest size bag that will be allowed as carryon luggage? 40L? 50L (but not stuffed full)?


#6 wanderlust2010 has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 13

Posted by SBE on 15/4/2010 at 03:24

Most airlines have a 7kg weight limit for hand luggage but my hand luggage has never ever been weighed (thank god).

It's size the matters. Hand luggage has to fit into the overhead lockers or under the seat. I have a 40L backpack that always gets on as hand luggage OK. Last time I flew it was full of heavy stuff and weighed about 12kg but no one batted an eyelid.

#7 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by somsai on 15/4/2010 at 06:58

+1 for that Mac

#8 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566

Posted by caseyprich on 15/4/2010 at 09:49

I carry a 50/55 L bag that when full still fits in a jumbo-jet overhead compartment. Along with that I always have a side bag to keep camera, maps, reading materials in for the duration of the trip. You are aloud both and neither has ever been weighed.

However, when taking prop planes that same 50 L bag has to be checked as the overhead compartments are much smaller - and if flying around SE Asia you will find yourself taking much smaller planes. For example the plane from HCMC to Phu Quoc could never take even a 35 L bag in the overhead.

#9 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281

Posted by SBE on 15/4/2010 at 15:11

Yes, baggage allowances do vary according to the type of plane. Some small propeller planes in the more remote corners of Indonesia only allow 10kg of luggage, whether or not it's checked in. In the Philippines some airlines have a weight limit for passenger+bags... ie they weigh passengers along with their luggage!

#10 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by caseyprich on 15/4/2010 at 15:47

that explains all the cute thin filipino singers here in shangahi

#11 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281

Posted by Archmichael on 16/4/2010 at 09:58

I second --- third, actually --- what Mac said above.

Meanwhile, here are the criteria for a couple of airlines:

Asiana: 40cm x 55cm cm x 23cm, 115cm total; 10kg or less.
United Airlines: 23cm x 36cm x 56cm, 114cm total; weight unknown.
Viet Nam Airlines: 36cm x 56cm x 23cm, 115cm total; 7kg or less.

Other airlines are even more restrictive (Lao Airlines, for example).

I can't imagine that a 50L backpack would pass muster as carry-on, but I've seen some hefty bags hauled into airplane compartments. As someone else said above, I've never had a carry-on bag weighed.

Nonetheless, checking - esp. once you're in SE Asia - isn't that big a deal. Do think of all the other folks wanting to get a bag in the overhead. Fall-out from too many trying to take on too much? One US airline has now announced that they will charge USD45 - $45! - for each carry-on bag. Crazy.

#12 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by SBE on 16/4/2010 at 11:45

Slightly off topic...

I flew Singapore airlines a couple of weeks ago and the checked in baggage allowance in economy class on an A380 to Europe was only 20kg.

Singapore Airlines passengers to the US and Canada are allowed 2 pieces of baggage each weighing 23kg.

How come the checked in weight allowance on flights to/from the US and Canada is more than double what is is elsewhere on the planet? Do planes float better when they're within N/American airspace?

#13 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by neosho on 16/4/2010 at 12:57

SBE...We're fatter, hence bigger and heavier clothes.

#14 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

Posted by Archmichael on 16/4/2010 at 20:38

Speak for yourself, neosho.

#15 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by Jleef on 28/4/2010 at 04:24

I took carry-on luggage only when I flew to Bangkok earlier in the year. Although my backpack (Osprey Porter 46) is designed to be the maximum carry-on size, it was heavier than the maximum 7kg weight allowance. The guy at the (Etihad) check-in desk had me weigh it, and even after asking me to remove my laptop (as that would be scanned separately) it came to 10kg. He didn't seem to mind though and let me through, so I guess even if you are unfortunate to be weighed it's still at the staff's discretion.

I'd suggest you keep all the breakable stuff together in your main bag, even if it's just in a carrier bag, so at least if the worst happens you can quickly remove the valuable stuff to take on board with you and have your bag checked in there and then.

#16 Jleef has been a member since 6/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 36

Posted by Archmichael on 28/4/2010 at 04:47

Good piece of advice, Jleef.

#17 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by bedu on 4/5/2010 at 11:02

After first coming to Asia over 10 years ago with a suitcase and a rucksack and a carry on bag, all for a 10 day trip, I learnt the very hard way that overpacking then shopping for souvenirs was not a good idea.

Even only 5 years ago, I arrived with a 90 litre bag, albeit for a 4 month trip.
As I'm lucky enough to live in Thailand, now if it's less than a week, I'll only use a 30 litre bag.

Check this out, it has some good advice,


#18 bedu has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 58

Posted by Archmichael on 28/6/2010 at 19:47

@ caiyanxin: Abercrombie & Fitch? WTF?

#19 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by SBE on 30/6/2010 at 15:25

Very strange that Somtam hasn't zapped this spammer geezer yet.

I can only conclude that he's spending WAY too much time toning his sixpack on a surfboard these days. Either that or he's had a crashing hangover for the last 48 hours.


#20 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by SBE on 30/6/2010 at 15:31

Wow, that worked well.I blinked and the spammer was gone!

#21 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by 5acrefarmer on 29/9/2010 at 17:56

Just in case the original poster is considering travelling with some sort of bag that is not a backpack, I'd say don't. I once travelled for 3 months with a stupid sling over the shoulder bag that was a pain. Those two shoulder straps backpacks are precious even if you won't be humping* your pack that often.

*(not humping in the biblical sense).

#22 5acrefarmer has been a member since 10/6/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 61

Posted by Archmichael on 4/10/2010 at 20:58

I see the "Abercrombie" guy is back.

SBE: perhaps if you blinked again?


#23 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by ryder80 on 28/12/2010 at 09:23

thanks very much for the http://www.travelindependent.info/index.htm
be very help-ful for me to read.

now just wondering with regards to carry-ons in SE Asia, now i know here in Canada and the United States, certain liquids, body spray or any type of containers carry something are not allowed and you will have to dis-pose of them before entering the plane...

since most of you have had your back-pack as a carry-on, i'd assume you guys carried all sorts of products with you as well, body spray, shampoo, tooth-paste, razor blades, sun-screen, list goes on with personal grooming products, and had no issues?


#24 ryder80 has been a member since 19/12/2010. Posts: 83

Posted by goonistik on 28/12/2010 at 15:16


I bring a small deo stick, a small tube of gel soap, and a small tube of toothpaste in case of any delays. So these are small amounts that pose no problems for security checks.
There was no issue with the razor (one of those multi-bladed types) nor with the nail clipper. A small packet of baby wipes is also handy.

Everything else I buy in the country of travel.

#25 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 563

Posted by rachelalex on 24/2/2014 at 11:09

id really like to know what pac you decided on and if you had any problems taking it on as hand luggage as I want to do the same thing too Joe :)

#26 rachelalex has been a member since 24/2/2014. Posts: 1

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