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Avoiding baggage claim often requires facing the challenges of carry-on-only travel.

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For me, the luggage carousel at Pearson International Airport bears an uncanny resemblance to Dante’s nine circles of hell. Minutes feel like hours and my temperament fluctuates between hopeful and violent. On the oddly frequent occasions my bag is lost, I’m left staring into the vacant eyes of an agent who makes promises of a speedy reunion that we both know he is unlikely to keep.

The solution for me has been avoiding checking a bag at all costs, but being a carry-on-only traveller has its downsides too.

Before leaving home, I have to make decisions that can dictate my entire trip. Will three ounces of conditioner be enough to get me through my Cancun getaway? (Nope.) Will my knees buckle under the weight of the carry-on I’m lifting into the overhead bin? (Yup.) And will I end up sacrificing my gym routine by removing my bulky running shoes? (Probably.)

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Options do exist to make arriving at your destination with all you need easier but, frankly, some of the prices will hurt. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the pain inflicted on your wallet is better than the pain you’ll feel losing the fight with the overhead bin or standing for eons at baggage return.

  1. Send it ahead: There’s a growing list of companies that will ship your bags to your destination so that they’re waiting for you when you arrive. The costs are much higher than simply checking your bag (Luggagefree.com will charge you about $244 for a 25-pound carry-on bag within Canada) but insurance coverage, guaranteed delivery and not having to lug said bag around layover airports might make it worthwhile for you. Keep an eye out for WeGoTravelClub.com, which is launching its Canadian shipping options next year.
  2. Arrange for it to be there: Baby Quip (babyquip.com) is one of the companies eradicating the stress parents face when traveling with an infant. Instead of lugging your pack 'n' play, baby gates and more, just browse their site, select a provider in the area you’re visiting, and they’ll make sure everything is at your hotel when you arrive. If you’ve got family visiting you in Toronto, you might seek out a baby gear rental service such as TravellingMunchkin.com and save them from overpacking too.
  3. Book into a place that has what you need: It’s the bulky items that will get you. The winter clothes, the fitness stuff, ski gear, etc. Book vacation homes or hotels that offer these things as loaners or rentals in destination. Heck, with many hotels even offering animal ambassadors on site you could even leave your pet at home and still enjoy the snuggles.

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