I flew to Christchurch with all my luggage in a Uniqlo jacket just because
A Kiwi break without any carry-on hassles.
I love me a compact travel challenge. Earlier this year, for the first round of this year's Just Because challenge, I took a day trip to Kuala Lumpur from Avalon with only a single carry-on bag. But I thought to myself: you can do better than that.
And so I found myself booked on an Emirates flight from Sydney to Christchurch recently, with no carry-on luggage at all. Instead, my travel essentials – washbag, a change of clothes, phone charger, headphones, passport – were all stuffed into the capacious pockets of a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket.
Fortunately, this particular Uniqlo jacket has really capacious inner pockets, as well as two zipped outer pockets. So even once I'd stuffed all the essentials in, I didn't look much more bloated than normal. The fact you can't have more than 100ml of any liquids in your washbag also helped.
Straight talk: the Emirates flight to Christchurch was on an A380, and it was barely two-thirds full. So if I'd had carry-on baggage, I'd have easily been able to find space for it in an overhead locker. But I stuffed the pockets of my jacket anyway, just because.
"Where are your bags?"
Honestly, the biggest hassle with travelling without a bag is that people keep asking if you've lost stuff. The woman at the check-in desk for Emirates seems very confused by my luggage-free state. Similarly, the guy at New Zealand customs is concerned to make sure I haven't forgotten to collect my bag. I assure them both that I'm fine.
Having no bags to empty should mean that I speed through security screening, but for some weird reason my left ankle keeps registering on the metal detector. So I end up having to send my shoes through separately and it was all a bit of a nuisance.
But those two minor hassles aside, there's something really liberating about knowing you don't have anything extra to carry or anything else to pick up while travelling. In the Qantas First Lounge, I grabbed the signature breakfast and didn't have to worry about someone else tripping over my suitcase.
Admittedly the crowds weren't too big at that hour, since I was on a 7:50am flight. At least that was the theory. In reality, my flight got delayed by around 40 minutes, so I decided to check out the Emirates lounge, which was near the boarding gate, as well.
While it doesn't have the luxury food options or view of the main Qantas lounge, Emirates' Sydney presence is still very welcoming. And yes, I might have had an extra-early glass of red to celebrate.
As I've already mentioned, the flight was hardly full, and there was no-one sitting next to me. So any concerns about looking strange as I swooped into my pockets evaporated entirely, and I settled in to enjoy the flight. There was Wi-Fi on board, so I was working on my phone, save for the obligatory meal break.
Christchurch itself is a glorious city, and one which I've not visited before. While there's still clear evidence of the damage from the 2011 earthquake, there's plenty to enjoy.
I really need to come back for longer than 24 hours, though I'll accept I might need more than just what I can stuff in my Uniqlo jacket in that case.
But the lesson is clear: we're all still overpacking too much. Spend less time stuffing your suitcase, and more time enjoying your journey.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.
Picture: Angus Kidman