Dear Lifehacker, I’m travelling to the US for a conference in a couple of weeks, and I’m trying to work out two things. Firstly, what sort of bag should I use for carry-on luggage? I’m not sure if my normal messenger bag is up to the task. Secondly, is it worth taking my DSLR for a 5-day trip for a conference? (This will influence my bag choice.) Thanks, Pack Animal
Let’s start with the second question first. There was a time when I would routinely take my DSLR everywhere, but these days I’m increasingly reluctant to do so. It takes great pictures, but it’s a massive pain to lug around. If you have a relatively modern smartphone, the odds are good that you’ll be able to grab the photos you want without all the excess gear. There are three key factors to consider:
- Is it a place you have visited before? If ‘yes’, then there’s no way you’ll need the DSLR.
- Do you have a lot of free time? If your conference experience is largely going to be in the hotel or conference centre, a bulky camera is more trouble than it’s worth.
- Is it in Las Vegas? A frequent conference choice, Las Vegas is a city where a DSLR makes a difference; it’s much harder to capture street lighting, fireworks, giant buildings and all that jazz with your phone. It’s the one place I might make an exception and pack the DSLR.
So in most cases I’d say “no”. That in turn influences your baggage selection. If your messenger bag fits your laptop and you’re used to it, I’d stick with that. Space for baggage is always tricky to find on US flights, so travelling with a larger bag is often more hassle than it’s worth. Checking into international flights with only hand luggage attracts attention (and often results in your luggage being weighed), so you might as well pack what you need in your main luggage (leave room for cheap clothes) and just stick to the essentials in your carry-on.
That’s my take, but I am merely one traveller. Alternate reader perspectives are welcome in the comments.
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