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How To Check Bags (The Right Way) As A Traveling Couple

by Meg · 9 comments

Tony and I traveled around the world for an ENTIRE year in 2012 each carrying 32 Litre backpacks. I’m just gonna say it… We totally nailed the whole “packing light” concept :)

How To Pack As A Couple - Packing List

Let’s face it, checking a bag sucks. You have to get to the airport early to get your bag checked into the flight, you have to part ways with 80% of your belongings in transit, and then you have to wait upwards of an hour to get your bag in Baggage Claim…. And, yes, this airline “luxury” typically costs you a good chunk of money!

This fiasco was something we wanted to avoid at all costs during our RTW trip in 2012.

And because we made it 12 months traveling with bags small enough to carry on an airplane, we know that checking a bag can be avoided in most situations…

But what if you HAVE to check a bag?? What if your stilettos just won’t fit in a carry-on? What if you are traveling through Europe where many airlines check bags based on weight and not size?

If you can’t avoid checking a bag, then you can at least put your heads together as a traveling couple and develop a smart packing list and strategy to ensure your trip will not come to a complete halt if your bag does get lost in transit… and here’s how:

Divide items in your packing list between your two bags

Instead of each having your own bags, share your bags. Make your packing list and then pack half of your clothing and underware in one bag and half in another. Divide your electronic chargers, prescriptions, and toiletries up between the two bags. Make sure you have comfy footwear in both bags.


This way if one of your bags gets lost by the airline, you won’t be stranded at the airport without your belongings. You and your partner can continue on your journey while the airline finds your lost bag (which can take several days).

Packing List Tips - Traveling As A Couple

By being proactive with your packing list as a couple, you hopefully won’t need to buy anything new and you won’t be scrambling to replace your most needed travel items, such as prescriptions.

What happens if the airline loses BOTH of your bags?

Well, then you are really having a bad day! Just kidding… but more on this later.

In my next article, I’ll share some tips on how to pack the ultimate carry-on bag for traveling couples to avoid some worst case scenarios when traveling!

Your turn: What tips do you have for creating packing lists and checking bags as a traveling couple? Please share with us in the comments!

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

Suzy March 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Good tip! I have thought about packing this way with my husband for our upcoming trip to Europe. Now to tackle the challenge of packing light for three months…

Meg March 24, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I found packing light in Europe to be SO hard. Weather is always changing and I have such a big desire to wear so many cute outfits… But it’s do-able! Where are you headed for the three months? SO jealous!

Best luck to ya Suzy and thanks for commenting!

Steve C March 25, 2014 at 10:55 am

Suzy, I’ve also done long term travel but could not quite get into the “lighter is better” program. With all my stuff, I could never just do a carry-on. And, the one biggest thing, how can you travel without a Swiss Army Knife? It would have to be checked as knives are not allowed in carry-ons.

I never found checking my pack was a hassle. We always made it a point to get to the airport early anyhow. And, upon arrival, even if we had to wait for a few extra minutes, we always wanted to take our time and not feel like we were in a rush. There would always be a big long line to get through customs anyway. Slow travel is better travel.

In all my years of traveling, the airline only lost our bags once and that ended up a good thing as they reimbursed us $280 bucks for three days.

Meg March 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

Great points Steve – My husband is also in love with his Swiss Army Knife and wishes he could travel with it more. I love your philosophy on slow travel… something we try and live by too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The GypsyNesters April 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

Good idea on the splitting things up. We usually try no to check any bags, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided. One thing we always do no matter what is only bring as much as we can carry in one trip. Everything goes with us at once when moving from taxi to hotel, etc. Simpler and safer.

Meg April 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Thanks for commenting! I totally agree with only packing as much as you can carry – It is so important, especially if you want to roam around and experience different places during your trip. We try and always carry-on, but some of the low cost European airlines go by weight when it comes to checking bags – and that sometimes just can’t be avoided!

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Gonzalo September 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Well, my personal record for carry on luggage is 23 kilos in a 10 kilos limit airlyne, I always noticed that ladyes goes in the plane with a carry on suitcase and also huge purses, so I thought if they can go in with 2 things also can I.

So I have a small backpack and a big one, I put only 10 kilos in the big one, and all the heavy stuffs in the small one, when I approach to the counter I just carry the small one to the front and put it down. then I let them wait my big one and that, is it.

For a couple travelling is even easyer because somebody can save the second back pack without worries.

Finally, you can always wear the cloth before the check in, and then put it back in the bag, like for hiking shoes even in a hot indonesia :)

Hope this help someone and I should start my own blog

Meg September 12, 2014 at 9:06 pm

WOW 23 kilos – That’s insane! Awesome tips in here… so sneaky! Thanks for sharing Gonzalo!

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