A story of Bag-ins and 10 packing tips

Before Our trip

Traveling on a budget means traveling on a budget airline and in that context throwing the checked in luggage out of the window, cuz of cost cutting savings. On our first trip to Palawan, we decided to jettison the checked in luggage and just make do with the airline’s hand carry limit of 7 kilograms. So how do you fit all you need in a 7-day vacation on one backpack with a weight limit of 7 kilos, well it takes a lot of creativity.

Before I was aware of the concept of travel, in my eyes, all backpacks were the same, As long as they conveniently carry your stuff and not that expensive and that’s the backpack for me, The fact that I have a ton of laptop backpacks at home I was brazenly confident that I don’t need to buy those cliche backpacks those backpackers always have, whom I thought were only making a statement and never was I so wrong.

Weeks before our flight I started packing my laptop backpack, as every folded shirt was packed in, I slowly realized how totally inadequate a normal backpack would be. Then I slowly came to appreciate those bulky “backpacker” backpack and thankfully I had an old hand me down 45L bag I had rotting in a drawer somewhere, sadly all the zippers were ripped, so I headed down to Mr. quickies, a local bag repair shop, they would charge me 1,000php ($20USD) and that got me thinking to just buy a new one instead, how expensive could it probably be? right?

So a light stroll around the mall, exploring travel shops, adventure galleries, and brand outlets, it doomed on me how expensive those bags really are, at 7000php ($150USD) for 45L I quickly strolled back to the repair shop and quickly handed them my 1,000php ($20) and gave me 2 weeks repair time, a little close for comfort but with that price difference comfort doesn’t matter.

Erra, on the other hand, decided to take a school pack as her travel backpack, it was able to fit all her things but looking glamorous wasn’t one of them, with all the things packed in, it looked bulbous and heavy and on top of that it was uncomfortable to carry, if you wanted personal space then this bag would Be it, personal space as in warding off everyone from you within a meter radius when you turn.

Soon the travel day, aside from our backpacks we each had an extra bag and for me was a sling camera bag, inside was the camera, memory cards, and charger. Erra had a large sling bag to carry our phones, chargers, travel papers and basically anything we needed quickly. So with everything packed and packed meaning, our bags are literally full of everything snugly in its place we headed out to the airport.

Everything was doing well, we arrived on time and security was a breeze and I was prepped for it with an automatic belt, laceless shoes, and inexpensive watch because you don’t want to be bothered with unlacing your shoes, removing your belt and worrying about your watch at the same time.

So we arrived in check in with plenty of time to spare so we weight our baggage to make sure it was well within the 7-kilogram limit. Erra weight hers and it was just over 7 kilos by 300 grams. Mine, on the other hand, was 9 kilos, I was so concerned about jamming everything I could possibly jam in my bag that I totally forgot about the weight limit, my focus shifted on the bag dimensions and I totally forgot about the weight and I even forgot to factor in my camera and the extra camera bag I decided to bring the last minute. I had to lose the extra weight and fast.

A light bulb went on and I decided to remove my camera and sling it on me, put all the chargers, cellphones and anything that could fit into my pocket. I removed one of our heavy small towels and slung it over my shoulder. Everything I could discretely carry I  quickly offloaded. After much creativity in repacking we brought down the weight to 7.5 kilograms and prayed that the staff in check in would waive that through and thankfully they did so we marched on the gates and repacked everything to the bag.

and from there, out Palawan adventure started.

Lessons I learned? I learned a lot.

  1. To avoid inconvenience in checking-in and security in the airport wear an automatic belt and shoes that do not need laces. Having a watch that is generally inexpensive is okay too.
  2. If your bag was barely able to fit everything when you depart, it’s not going to fit everything when you go home.
  3. Rolling your clothes rather than folding them will save space and allows you to layer the bag so you can maximize the usage.
  4. Make a list and notate which bag the item is placed. We use google keep so we can collaborate on what we bring this makes sharing the baggage allowance easier. You can delegate who will bring what and where the item is. It also makes it convenient on who to blame if someone forgot to bring the item or someone losses it. ; )
  5. Read and reread the airline’s check-in baggage rules and regulation. Each airline has its own and it may change depending on the destination.
  6. Wear the appropriate clothes for your destination, not only does it make it more convenient you’ll also save weight on your luggage. That is why there is a classic touristy look, cargo shorts, t-shirt and a hat. Practicality and convenience is a top priority and if you are on a budget, fashion is the least of your concerns.
  7. Wear the heaviest footwear that you need to bring and if it’s the beach having a “Man” Sandal that is waterproof will help you a lot. Our destination needed aqua shoes so buy footwear that is easily pliable, you don’t want to wrestle with your packing, remember if your bag is full when you depart, everything won’t fit when you go home.
  8. If you barely make the 7 kilos carry on allowance when departing, you’ll definitely not going to make that going back. So if you are planning to save, prebook checked in baggage on your return flight because you’re definitely going to regret it when you check in the last minute because it is double the price of the pre-booked option. think about the souvenir, the not so dry clothes and trinkets that you’ll be bringing back.
  9. When checking in and you think you’ll hit the carry on allowance, carry everything that you can possibly put on your pocket like your phone, small charger, and sling everything that you can sling discretely like your camera, a towel or a heavy jacket. this certainly has helped me through
  10. Invest in your backpack. The lighter it is unpacked, the more pliable it is, the more feature it has the better. You’ll be using it for your travels and outside your comfort zone, so it will be tossed, thrown, heaved, stacked and bludgeon. You don’t want it to fail somewhere in the middle of the forest, in the middle of a flight or during your travel. You get what you pay to be skimpy on your food, be thrifty on your ticket but invest in your backpack. Investing in a dry pack is also good, not only is it waterproof it is also easy to store and relatively lightweight, you can roll it and clip it to the bottom of the bag.
After our trip: this is not going to make it as carry-on baggage.


by: Ishmael Fusilero

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