Traveling with ONLY carry on bags... With a family?

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by tinytinkmom, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. tinytinkmom

    tinytinkmom I work to support my vacation habit!

    May 29, 2007
    Anyone out there go on their DCL vacations with ONLY carry on baggage... With kids? :scared:
    With the price of checked baggage fees, we are considering making the switch, but I don't know if we can make it work with a cruise... Our upcoming vacation is 5 days at Disneyland and then an MR cruise. We were planning on doing laundry at some point anyway, but I keep thinking about the dress up clothes and extra shoes for the cruise portion... Not to mention everything you need to travel with a 6 year old and a 1 & 1/2 year old!
    Has anyone braved doing this???

    So I wanted to follow up and say "YES!", it is possible to travel on a DCL vacation with ONLY carry on bags (even with small children!)... It worked so well, we are planning on doing the same thing for our MR cruise in October, as well as any future vacations we have!
    We were in need of new luggage anyway (the old ones were being held together with duct tape!), so we bought these fabulous carry on suitcases that have a backpack that can zip on and off the front (makes it easier to get through the airport with the little ones!). They were on clearance at Costco, so we got 2 for $70, then I found a duffel bag on clearance at Target for $6. So we spent the money it would have cost us to check 2 bags round-trip ($80) and bought new luggage that will allow us to avoid paying those fees in the future!
    In total, we brought: 2 carry on suitcases with backpacks attached, 2 duffel bags, another backpack and a diaper bag. So each of the four of us had a "carry on" and a "personal item" (the backpacks). I am NOT a light packer, so this was a learning experience for me. It is challenging with the cruise, simply because of the dress up clothes. For myself, I brought 3 sleeveless dresses (2 black, 1 olive green) and 3 different scarves, so I could change up my look each night. My husband brought 2 pairs of slacks and 5 dress shirts. For the 6 year old, I packed a couple of skirts that we could rotate with different tops. The one year old was easiest - her clothes are so small, I felt like I could pack whatever I wanted for her! We actually could have gotten away with one less duffle bag if we hadn't needed to bring diapers for 2 weeks!
    Anyway, I just wanted to share that it IS possible (even for a heavy packer!) to get away with just carry ons!
  2. moomy-san

    moomy-san I'd rather be in O'Gills.

    Jun 9, 2010
    I'd personally be afraid or trying this- I have 2 little girls and man, oh, man, the stuff they need on a trip to DL! I guess if you know you can use the hotel/cruise-line shampoo etc and all the other toiletries you need are within the allowed size limits for the airline, I'd say maybe do just one VERY large checked bag? If you have to buy toiletries and such once you arrive you haven't really saved money :)
    We also bought the travel space bags that you roll the air out of. That could help reduce some of the bulk in the carry on if you decide to go that route. But they aren't cheap, so again- might just be easier to pay for the checked bag!
  3. Avatar

    DIS Sponsor Let Dreams Unlimited Travel plan your perfect Disney vacation!

    to hide this advert.
  4. Cruise

    Cruise Wake up, your month is up!;)

    Dec 3, 2001
    It can be done, but it means mixing and matching a lot and deciding what you are and aren't willing to give up for it.

    With the kids, do you like to pack costumes for photo ops? Are you okay with not being too fancy with formal and semi-formal night? There wouldn't be any room for extras like snorkeling equipment or sand toys for the beach. You also either won't be able to participate in your FE exchange or else planning very, very carefully for what you'd use....something small and flat. ;)

    On our last cruise, it was literally the FE that pushed us over the edge of needing a piece of checked luggage. Otherwise, we would have been able to do carryon only. But we don't have kids. And we've done several cruises where we've gotten the full-on formal photos - I'm just kind of over it and don't need them anymore. :rotfl:

    Also remember that, though you each get a carryon, I can't imagine your 1 1/2 year old wheeling a roller bag onto the plane. :lmao: If you take a carseat for the plane, you're going to be juggling a lot of bags while trying to keep up with your kids as well.
  5. szubieta

    szubieta DIS Veteran

    Dec 23, 2009
    If you do this...please let us "Over-Packers" know how it's done.

    Thank God I will be driving to port on our next cruise like our last. :thumbsup2 We had 7 suitcases with 4 carry-on for 2 adults and 1 child (5) on a 15nt cruise. Though 1 case had snorkeling equipt & a booster seat, we had plenty of snacks/drinks for ports (waste) and pepsi/mineral water. I even used the space bags (careful they DO get heavy) and there was no laundry facilities.

    I would adore that type of freedom! But you should see my travel lists. :confused3


    Aug 10, 2003
    I have 4 kids and I could easily do the carry on for everyone and get away with it. We never bring more than 3 large suitcases for the 6 of us, even for our last week at WDW followed by a week on DCL. My kids spend the whole cruise in a bathings suit or shorts. I brought 2-3 sundresses for each of the girls as cover ups/evening wear. One suitcase was our formalwear for 2 nights (minus DH's Tux) and shoes. One suitcase was all 4 kids' mix & match outfits (7 pairs of underwear and 3-4 t shirt/shorts outfits each) with their flip flops. One suitcase is me and DH's clothes and toiletries(who are we kidding, 3/4 MINE and a small corner of his lol).

    We all wear tennis shoes, pants & jackets onto the airplane so we have them in case we need them for a chilly day at WDW or on the cruise. I wash clothes once on land and once at sea (usually don't have to at sea cause they wear their bathing suits with the same cover up everyday!).

    Every kid wears a backpack on the airplane with misc snacks, entertainment and anything they "need" that didn't fit in the suitcases (their blankets or loveys usually). I carry the important papers and meds in my backpack and we are good to go!
  7. TinklednPants

    TinklednPants DIS Veteran

    Nov 26, 2008
    I honestly don't know how this could even be considered :confused3
    How many outfits can you fit in a carry on?
    I can't even imagine the 5 days at Disneyland with just carryons.
  8. jmkclee

    jmkclee Earning My Ears

    Mar 19, 2003
    We are a family of 6 and only do carry-on, even though with DH's status on United we could check for free. We even did carry-on for 2 weeks in London & Paris (and Disneyland Paris :cool1:) last Christmas.

    Everyone has a roller bag and a backpack or tote. I tell my kids that if it doesn't fit in those two things, it doesn't go. With 6, you can get an amazing amount of travel sized shampoo, etc. into 6 quart bags. Rolling clothes helps save space vs. folding (and some say keeps them more wrinkle free). I can even pack some of my stuff (my extra shoes...I have a fetish for stilettos...) in my son's rollerbag as he is good with t-shirts & shorts & one nice pants & shirt. My girls wear flip-flops for mostly everything, and "nicer" ones for the dressier nights.

    We also wash clothes during the week (rented an apartment in Paris w/ washer & dryer), and was on the cruise or at WDW (we are DVC members). In a pinch, undies can be washed in the sink (DH and I have done this in Europe).

    You can do it.
  9. Susie22

    Susie22 Mouseketeer

    May 18, 2003
    I have five children ages 0-11. We're doing two days at Disneyland and a MR cruise with only carry ons. We don't pack extras (no fish extenders for us!), and I plan on probably throwing a couple loads in the laundry on a sea day. Now, I haven't DONE it yet, so I'll let you know how it goes after it's done. But I don't imagine it will be too different than when we pack for Disneyland for a week all in carry ons, which we normally do.
  10. lawone

    lawone Mouseketeer

    Dec 18, 2008
    We are a family of 4 and only do carry-ons! Each person gets one rolling bag + a backpack. Roll your clothes insides the suitcases b/c it creates more room. Yes, you will have a few wrinkles but just pull them out and hang them up when you arrive.

    We have always found that even with fewer bags that we don't wear all the clothes we brought with us anyway! Also-- you could ship a box to the cruise with any extra items you won't need until then! I shipped all my FE gifts so that I didn't have to pack them. Then I used the same box to ship stuff home!
  11. Michele325

    Michele325 Mouseketeer

    Oct 28, 2006
    We did it last time we traveled to the grandparents house (5 of us) but my kids are a bit older (5, 8, 11). Each got a roll on suitcase. And the adults had a roll on and a backpack (with stuff for the plane). We use air out bags and definitely plan on doing laundry. It also depends on the time of year, this was summer so it was all shorts and T shirts. I am not sure about doing this for a cruise though. All the clothes to wear at night, and that means an extra pair of shoes for everyone. I am thinking we will check 1 large suitcase with all of that. Last cruise we checked 2 large suitcases for all 5 of us and carried hardly anything on. So it is do able, you just have to be really pare down what you bring.
  12. Mmketeer

    Mmketeer <font color=blue>DIS Cast Member- no really, but n

    Jan 8, 2001
    Gosh, you guys are WAY better than me.
    I have been on many cruise's where I was able to just have a big purse (as my carry-on) and one bag, but theirs no way on a cruise I could just do a carry-on. And I don't even have kids. Where the heck would I put all my door decorations and what would I do with all the stuff I buy? Hubby is trying to get us down to just one checked bag (we aren't flying, so I think he is just wanting to to see if he can do it), but I am not leaving all my stuff behind to do this. I gotta have at least three pairs of shoes for goodness sake. LOL!

    Oh and happy sailing!
  13. peachygreen

    peachygreen DIS Veteran

    Jul 15, 2008
    I think it would be a whole lot easier if your youngest was old enough to carry her own carry on.
    I don't know what you might need for your child, but I know I couldn't do it right now. For us I have 2 girls ages 4 and 6 months. We are flying this weekend for a 5 day trip. I plan to check 1 bag and the car seats (thank goodness they don't charge me for those) and carry everything else on. I cfould probably carry everything but the car seats but it really is a hassle, especially trying to change plans in Atlanta. I know I can't get all my clothes and the babies clothes in one carry on and I just can't deal with trying to carry both through the airport. To simplfy life I am going to pack my clothes and both girls clothes into one large bag and check it and then DH can carry his carryon, I'll have a backpack with diapers, snacks etc and my DD can carry her bag with books and toys.
  14. denas

    denas Mouseketeer

    Sep 27, 2010
    I would check one large bag. While you can do only carry-ons, it is a lot of work with little ones that you will already be carrying. You also don't really want to have to do so much laundry! You have probably paid a lot for your trip - paying an extra $50 ($25 each way to check one bag) to reduce so much stress seems worth it!!
  15. Soccermom-Cheri

    Soccermom-Cheri one beachfront bungalow on Castaway Cay, please<br

    Jul 12, 2003
    After the "charge for bags" went into effect, I noticed quite a few people having to check "carry-ons" as they were too big even though they were sold as carry-on bags.

    Personally, I would rather check my bigger bags so I can keep an eye on my kids. Airports are too busy for me.

    And no way am I doing laundry on vacation ever again. Did it once and I was ticked off that the rest of the family was out doing something fun while I was in a sweaty laundry room. Just my opinions.
  16. Anal Annie

    Anal Annie at least I KNOW I'm a kook...I just can't help it

    Dec 8, 2006
    I have become more efficient at packing over the past couple of years (since I discovered packing folders and packing cubes) and we were able to go to WDW last March for 6 nights in carry-ons only. March weather was a tad cool so I packed for layers. We also have an Owners Locker waiting for us in FL with a lot of "junk" in it which helps lessen the packing by a lot. For our Med cruise next summer however I am planning on each of us having 1 carry-on & a "personal article" (small tote or backpack) and 1 large checked bag per person as most international airlines charge $50 now for a 2nd checked bag. We are planning on 4 nights in Paris and at least 3, maybe 4 nights in Barcelona + the 7 day cruise - so AT LEAST 14 nights total.

    I SWEAR by rolling clothes and using packing folders & packing cubes. I recently bought 2 "international size" carry-on suitcases which are smaller than what our domestic airlines allow. They measure 21"x13.5x9.75 INCLUDING handles, outside pockets & wheels and they are only 6.5 Lbs empty as we will be limited to 26 Lbs pp for all of our carry-on items. That is considerably smaller & lighter than the typical 21" carry-on which is really more like 23"x14.5x10.5. Anyway, I did a "test pack" after I bought them to see how I could handle packing in them (Cheri - stop laughing - you know how anal I am!!) Using 1 large & 1 medium packing cube in addition to the compartments in the bag I was able to get 1 pr. of capris, 4 pr. of shorts, 7 short sleeve tops, 1 long sleeve & 1 3/4 length sleeve top, 1 strappy tank top, 1 pr. of PJ's, 3 pr. underwear, 1 bathing suit & a coverup, a sm. toiletry bag and 2 pr. of sandals into this dinky little carry-on and it only weighed 18 Lbs. :thumbsup2 That leaves me 8 Lbs for my purse, DSLR & a book before I hit 26 Lbs. I still have a little work to do on the plan but I was QUITE proud of this accomplishment. I could NOT do it without the packing system (cubes) to keep me organized. That said, I also could not live for 2 weeks on this if I had to plan nice attire for dinners on a cruise in addition to daytime clothing. I plan on bringing 2 pr. of the Switch Flops + several straps for my "dinner shoes".

    If I were you, I would plan on each person having a carry-on plus I would go ahead & plan for having at least 1 large checked bag for the family to share. Otherwise you won't have any wiggle room for the return trip home for any souvies etc.:goodvibes
  17. OurDogCisco

    OurDogCisco DIS Veteran

    May 30, 2002
    I don't know if I could do it. It depends on what kind of traveler you are. But I take at least 3 pairs of shoes or more if I was going on a trip like yours. I would be taking flipflops; keens; tennis shoes & dress sandals for dinners. I could live with less clothes but what about toiletries like toothpaste, contact solution, tynelol for the kids, etc... I basically bring my entire medicine cabinet when I go on a cruise. Plus, you need suntan lotion. I think with carry-ons you'll end up buying all that stuff when you land as I'm not sure you take all that on with the liquid limits.

    I do highly recommend the packing cubes, etc... Those really save space. We used in them for our Baltic cruise. We spent 5 nighs in London and 13 nights on the cruise. I had to pack more because of the weather and wouldn't you know it was the hottest it had ever been in a long time in Baltics. I packed few cool weather clothes but not enough and ended up doing laundry alot. But with your cruise you won't have that problem.

    Anyways, another thing to consider is your carry-on bag size. I can't tell you how many times I see people struggle with lifting their bag to put in the overhead bin especially those roll on ones as they are way bulkier than you think. On our last trip the stewardess made the last family on board check their carry-on. It was obvious they were trying not to do that but they were the last to board and there just wasn't any more space. If you do a carry-on, a personal carry item and a backpack you could run into problems.

    Or if you can fly Southwest as the 1st 2 bags are free.
  18. tinytinkmom

    tinytinkmom I work to support my vacation habit!

    May 29, 2007
    Thank you all for the great responses! We've decided we're going to give it a try...
    I am truly the heaviest packer in our family, so if I cut back on the shoes and outfits, we should make it just fine! :rotfl:

    We still have a few months to do a trial packing run - I'll have to let you all know if we survive this experience! :upsidedow
  19. NancyIL

    NancyIL DIS Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    My family of 5 traveled with carry-ons only for a 3-week land trip to Europe, but we didn't bring dressy clothes. I haven't tried doing so for a cruise.
  20. ruadisneyfan2

    ruadisneyfan2 DIS Veteran

    May 20, 2006
    No way. We have 2 garment bags just for dinner clothes for 4 of us. Another large bag for all 4 of our casual clothes: shorts, tshirts, etc, 3 sets for each of us. Also 1-2 smaller carryons for pirate gear, shoes (formal, casual dinner, sandals, flip flops and sneakers for all 4 of us.)
    When the Phillies were in the World Series in 09, and it played on the big screen, ds10 wanted to bring jerseys, hats, etc.
    I also must have my own hair dryer and an electric clock.
    I dislike luggage fees too so we fly SWA down but suck it up and pay the fees to return on a participating airline so we can sign up for onboard check in. For PHL, that would be USAirways or Airtran.
  21. atinkerbellmom

    atinkerbellmom DIS Veteran

    Mar 7, 2007
    For those of you who say you can do this; you need to make a thread and have it as a sticky here. You have the Magic. I do not know if we could get away with this for a 3 day cruise, not to mention a 7 day cruise and 5 days on land of the OP. You would have to for sure use the kids travel lite offer as I do not see packing for a toddler diapers and wipes and clothes in a carry-on. On a MR cruise you will have formal and semi formal wear not to mention shoes for these. Between day wear and evening wear, that is 14 outfits just for the cruise. What about toliet items? I guess all of the other sides you can purchase on the ship, but are you then saving any money? Now grant it, I do over pack and we are larger people, but I am freaking of how I can get everything down to two large bags at 50lbs for our up-coming trip. That is without the land portion. Now we do pack our own bucket for DD and leave it on the ship, pack our own laundry soap as to not want to purchase it on the ship; we pack every mdication that could be needed because it cost a lot on the ship and we carry all of our own shampoo (especially after sandy beach days) because we do not like using the onboard products on the kids that can burn eyes. I have to pack a hair dryer and curling iron or formal night pictures will be horrible. I also would worry about not being able to bring anything back. There will be no room. I also like the idea with checked baggage, that DCL handles your luggage for you and you never have to touch it. So carry on luggage, a purse with documents, busy bags for the kids for the airplane and a new toddler is just a lot.... I still am amazed at how you are going to get that many outfits and shoes into carry ons. Do you plan on not bringing back anything new? Please be sure the bags are able to fit into that 'little box" at the airport. I have seen soooo many people get ready to go through TSA and they say "no" leaving the passengers to pay for multiple small bags adding up to $200 when the could have spent $50 for two big ones.... Just be alert and careful.... Just let us know how you do it when you do. Please post pictures!

Share This Page