Number 1 Travel Hack of all time - Never Check a Bag

The Number 1 Travel Hack of all time

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In this post we share the number 1 travel hack of all time! If you’ve been following our travel blog for a while you’ve caught on to the fact that we love sharing travel hacks and travel tips. As you know, we tend to focus a bit more on the business traveler. You know, the road warrior who travels for work every week. But honestly, these travel hacks apply to you leisure travelers too.

Basically, if it’s something that a traveler can use to make their life easier while on the road, we want to share it with you.

If you are not familiar with the travel tips and travel hacks that we’ve covered so far, this will catch you up:

  1. 101 Travel Hacks
  2. The Top 10 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler
  3. The Top 3 Greatest Travel Hacks

We’ve even shared fun lists like the 9 Dumbest Travel Tips I’ve ever Heard or the the more serious list of the 11 Tips to Crush your First Business Trip.

But, now we are to the end. The final chapter (ok, who are we kidding, we will probably do more!). But, after so many great travel hacks, which one will rise to the top? Which travel hack is the one thing you need to know when you travel for work (or pleasure)?

So, what is the Number 1 Travel Hack of All time??

Is it “Learn the Airport Security Process!?” (that’s a good one). Or maybe “Never Rent from Avis…?” (there’s a story here…haha). Or get a unique luggage tag or strap? Nope (but you should do that).

Speaking of Avis…this personal travel horror story about Avis will rile your inner demon.

Or maybe one my personal favorites: “Explore your business destinations whenever you can!” I do love this particular travel hack. Seriously. For example, I’ve got to see exciting places along the way on my business trips. You can read about some of them here. Places like Salem, Oregon and Grand Rapids, MI (Beer City!).

No, of course not. Those are great travel hacks…but they aren’t the most important one.

Honestly, this was a tough call. There are so many great travel hacks out there. Some of the business travel tips that we’ve aggregated and shared with you are absolutely fantastic.

For example, I considered the following two heavily in the process:

Stick with a single Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car company 

As I’ve noted in the past, since you’re going to be traveling,  you might as well get some points for it. Your company policies may make this more difficult but do your best to stick w/ a single Airline, Hotel and Rental Car company. You can accumulate points and status quicker this way. For example, I typically travel Southwest Airlines (sometimes Delta), stay in Hilton Hotels, and rent w/ National. And if you are traveling for pleasure, do your absolute best to stick w/ one company (even if it’s a tad higher in price). It will pay off in the long run.

Ps…if you want to read how to join the Hilton Honors Program (and get the most out of it), click here

The benefits of sticking with a single company generally mean you travel smoother and  nicer. For example, Southwest offers early boarding privileges (which helps you get the best seat and stow your bag) for status holders.

Hilton gives all kinds of privileges like free breakfast, upgrades, extra points, snacks, etc to their higher tier members. And w/ National you can often get free upgrades to nicer cars. Delta will start to give you upgrades to first class depending on your status and availability.

Pack light (and well) 

Packing light minimizes the stuff you have to haul around, makes it easier to stuff your bag into an overhead bin, and reduces the pain when you have to store it under your seat. I do my best to use a single backpack (and Ogio Metro backpack) whenever I can (the SwissGear 1900 TSA ScanSmart Backpack is pretty good too, btw). With good packing, and minimizing superfluous crap, I can make that last almost a week. For example, if you wear jeans on day 1 you can wear them again on day 5, getting that room back in your bag.

Wear your jacket w/ you on the plane so it doesn’t have to go in the bag. Learn how to roll your clothes vs. fold so they store easier (and don’t wrinkle as bad)! Skip the heavy book to save room (use your iPad or better yet, your Kindle Reader app on your phone). If you have to use a suitcase, get one that rolls well (preferably 4 wheeled), fits easy into the overhead compartment, and is durable enough to stand the rigors of regular travel.

But ultimately, we landed on one.

And there can only be one. One ring to rule them all. One ring…sorry got a little carried away there.

Here it is. The Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time.

Roll Music.

The Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time:

Never check your bag

The Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time: Never Check your Bag

The Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time

Does adding 30 minutes to both ends of your trip and gambling that your airline loses your luggage sound like fun? Then check a bag. Setting aside bag check fees (which ought to deter your enough), checking a bag means extra time at the front and back of your trip.

You also will have to interact with staff to check your bag, and then you wait with the huddled masses for it to (hopefully) arrive on the baggage carousel. I confidently walk past all the schmucks waiting for the bags…and get the better rental car ahead of them or get to my bed that much quicker.

When you travel for work it’s all about speed and efficiency. You want to move fast and easily. Avoiding unnecessary interruptions or delays. Checking a bag only slows you down and introduces unnecessary risk.

That’s why the number 1 travel hack of all time is to never check your bag!

Don’t do it.


If you listen to one thing and one thing only from me it’s this: Never Check Your Bag.

(and don’t use Avis…different story for a different day!).

This business travel hack also has an interesting side effect in that it forces you to pack light so that you can check a bag. You really do not need as much as you think you do. You can reuse jeans. Pack smaller bottles of pain pills, less travel hygiene gear, etc.

If also forces you to get better luggage. For example, it forced me to get a better backpack so that I can fit a little more of my travel essentials. I personally use the Ogio Metro backpack which I love for it’s combination of size, comfort and durability.

I also settled on a smaller carry on suitcase. The TravelPro Crew 11 21″ model has been a game changer for me. It’s pretty small, but almost always fits into the overhead bin and because it’s a spinner suitcase it rolls sooooo smoothly. Since I’ve started recommending this piece of luggage, several followers of this site have bought it and they report rave reviews! I love it.

But, if it’s a tad small for you (or maybe you haven’t mastered the deft art of not packing a ton of crap…haha…then maybe this Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner will do the trick – it’s a nice one too).

Are there any situations where I should check my bag?

Uh..sure. The reality is there are a few cases where checking your bag actually makes sense. For example, if you are traveling with a bunch of gear (like you are a musician or maybe packing tools, or conference gear). Fine. That’s ok.

Golf clubs are also acceptable. No worries there.

Occasionally when traveling on a very long trip you might simply have to bring enough stuff that forces you into a larger back (and thus must check it). But….you should try to avoid this. Pack lighter, if you can.

Final Thoughts on Travel Hacks and other stuff…

Well there you go. We did it! You did it! Were you surprised at my choice for The Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time? Or did you see it coming? After so many travel hacks and travel tips – it might have surprised you, but if you know me…you saw it all along!

I trust this journey has been helpful and I hope you stay tuned for more travel hacks and travel tips!

And in the meantime, you might also enjoy reading about the greatest business trip I ever had. Or some of my other favorite topics:

If you liked this content, please do us a favor share it on social media and click the “like” button below and don’t forget to follow us on social media including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

And, of course, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might like these great articles:

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Author Biography

We. Do. Business Travel. The is a leading business travel focused travel blog. The principal author has over 18 years of consistent & frequent business travel. Over the years, he has developed various travel habits, travel tips, advice and more that he shares with fellow travelers of all skill levels. From hotel life, to airplane tips, to the weekly grind of frequent travel, plus a little travel humor, this blog is a haven for business travelers. Read his full bio here.

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. “Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

5 comments on “The Number 1 Travel Hack of all time

  1. Scott Howard

    Agree this is a game changer. My wife and two girls are even onboard with this method and have done several multi-week trips with only carry-on. I use the Osprey Farpoint 40 backback for more casual travel and the Travelpro Maxlite 4 Rolling Carry-On Garment Bag to minimize wrinkles for nicer clothes.

      1. Scott Howard

        You bet. Thanks for the great post.
        I think I’ve had that bag 15 years and a lot of trips. The other perk of not checking is you don’t trash your bags.

  2. Billy Bob

    The never check a bag business doesn’t work buddy… some of us take pretty long and involved vacations. I am self-employed and can do my work (when I do it) from any internet connection. I don’t even need my own computer anymore. So, I travel for months on end. Plus, we own different residences on different continents (Asia, the US, and now Spain for a golden visa). One thing me and my wife didn’t anticipate: there are always things that we have on house A that we want to move to house B. Or house C. Some things then need to go to house A. We therefore always carry at least one 24-inch bag and it gets checked. Typically we each check a bag — no choice!
    Plus, I love my wife. However, she isn’t a big believer in packing light. If she wanted to bring a kitchen sink to another residence, I wouldn’t argue: I’d just try to figure out which bag it would fit in (and wonder if I can carry it).
    We did all the things you mention, 25 years ago when we were in our 20s. We didn’t own much, and therefore didn’t have much to carry. We spent a month in Europe with just our packs. It was fun but we can afford much better now.
    My greatest travel hack comes from about 10 years ago: I think it was a Chase card which offered 2 free nights at any Fairmont with breakfast: we did it twice, each, and have thus stayed 8 nights (4+4) in luxury, for very little out of pocket.
    Another more recent good one was a free $1000 simply for dropping $100,000 into an account at Ally Bank during their 1% promotion. Just drop it in at 2.2%, wait, and in a few months $1000 was given, free. Tough to beat a free $1000.


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