Two ways to bring as much as you want on no-frills flights (video of jacket with 14 pockets)

I’ve already covered this topic before, and showed how I take advantage of the loophole that weight doesn’t count when it’s on your person with an intentionally “destroyed” jacket that I used in my travels.

A company that actually makes jackets especially for taking advantage of this loophole got in touch with me and sent me one of their jackets. Jaktogo is the ugliest jacket you’ll see in your life, but was a huge improvement on what I was doing before.

Since they were nice enough to send me a free jacket with no strings attached, I’ve recorded this video to showcase it, although I am not affiliated with them or care if you buy or don’t buy it; I mostly think it’s funny that such a thing exists! Especially since it turns into actual carry luggage that you can hold in your hands!

I genuinely got use out of it on the flight in this video (Taipei to Shanghai – only got around to editing and uploading it now five months later!) because I had way too many books for learning Chinese that I didn’t take the time to get rid of, as well as winter clothes I flew in with that I hadn’t taken the time to find a home for or dispose of.

All of this extra stuff meant that I was way over the 20kg check-in limit on the very cheap flight I was taking. And yet, I didn’t pay any extra fees because I “snuck” it all through.

In case you’re wondering, NO there are never any security issues. I’ve been using my previous jacket hack for years and never run into problems with it. This includes in the states.

That’s ONE way to “hack the system” and take as much as you like with you on any flight.

Much better way: get rid of crap you don’t need, seriously!

The problem is not actually the airlines though. Maybe you can “stick it to the man” by taking advantage of this loophole, as I did when I had too many books with me. But there’s a much better way to do it.

Since leaving Asia and travelling over the summer, I have also “travelled with everything I want/need”, but not by mailing things to myself, using jacket hacks, or paying overweight limits.

I got rid of crap that I don’t actually need.

I took a serious look at all my possessions (everything I own in the world), and sliced it down to 23kg (50lbs). This includes all the actual baggage (when empty), which we tend to overlook.

It turned out the cheap bag I had when going to China weighed five kilograms when empty, and this was forcing me to find ways to squeeze more stuff through, so I replaced it with a lighter one.

Next I thought to myself “If my apartment were on fire, what MUST I take out with me?” I had a few items for “just in case” situations, that I realized I was dragging around with me and never actually used. Donated to charity or sold.

And you know what? Since I got rid of things that I thought I “needed”, nothing has actually changed. Well, nothing except a MUCH more comfortable travel experience. Seriously, the last few months have been WAY less stressful, and so much more comfortable to go from A to B.

I only have one check in bag, and my carry-on is so small, it fits under the chair in front of me on the flight.

(There are indeed plenty of travel hackers who travel just with carry on luggage, but keep in mind that I don’t have a base to dump my stuff anywhere in the world, so literally travel with everything I own).

Either hack the system, or hack your life

So there you have it! I’ve given you a travel hacking item you can think about, but I hope you’ll consider the words above too – that perhaps you need to hack your LIFE.

I don’t understand this need for stuff. People buy new furniture and all sorts of rubbish that takes up space and then they need a bigger house, and then they need a new car to drive to it etc.

When everything you own on the planet can be wheeled leisurely behind you, you really start to wonder why people have dozens of pairs of shoes, libraries of books gathering dust (Stop knocking down forests for your shelves and embrace e-book technology!! All physical books I buy are sold after I finish them or given away on a site like bookcrossing so someone else can appreciate them), and other things that cost money but don’t have any real value to enhancing your life.

The best things can’t be measured in monetary value or weight, but in depth of experience. I don’t buy souvenirs when I travel, I make friends and learn languages. Airlines never charge me extra for that :)

Any thoughts, share them in the comments below!



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  • WC

    I’ve actually been doing this as well. I’ve moved a few times in the last decade, and it’s quite a hassle. So I’ve been slowly giving away (or throwing away, if I have to) a lot of stuff that I find I just don’t need. As I’m getting ready to move, I’ve been doing a lot of it recently.

    As a nice side-effect, I’ve found that it’s helping me focus on what I feel is important. I’ve got a lot of hobbies, but most of them are neglected, and I often feel like I should be spending more time on them. That would require losing time with the hobbies I feel are actually important, though. This cleansing is helping me focus that.

    It’s also funny that you mentioned ebooks. My entire life, my mother has had a book sitting around that she reads occasionally. Maybe she gets through 2 books a year, in a good year. Last year, though, she got a Kindle. She said she’s read like 10 books since then. I’m not sure exactly why the difference, but it’s sure made a difference in her reading habits. Personally, I’ve used ebook readers since before they were a thing, and were simply an app on a PDA. (There’s a word you don’t hear any more, either.)

  • Joseph Lemien

    I’m suprised to see Jacktogo. I’ve been a fan of Scottevest for a while, and they manage to put a dozen or more pockets in their items without having the clothing look too bad. Maybe you should look into their stuff, too?

    • Benny Lewis

      I mentioned Scottevest several times in the video

      • Joseph Lemien

        Oops. Sorry about that. I feel a bit foolish now. I only read the text and watched Jaktogo’s own promotional videos.

  • PolyglotMae

    I wasn’t interested in the jacket thing, but more in the “get rid of your crap” part. I’ve moved so many times in my life already, that I’m used to sorting out my stuff quite regularly to get rid of what I don’t need. Of course I didn’t manage to chop it all down to 23 kg, but I’m a supporter of the “less is more” way too.
    “Either hack the system, or hack your life.” I love it! :-)))

    • Benny Lewis

      Great work Mae! :) To be honest, it took me an entire ten years of travelling to finally get down to 23kg, so you’ll get there soon enough if you have to as well ;)

      Keep on hacking :D

  • Karen Chow

    Okay, I’m upset about your comment about shoes, I just bought 2 pairs yesterday! :P But that’s awesome that you trimmed your stuff down so much. I need to start that process.

  • Andrew

    Very cool idea with the jacket, but I’ll bet you that eventually
    airlines will close that loophole once enough people start taking
    advantage of it.

    I definitely agree with you on cutting down on stuff in general. I tend
    to collect things I really, really like and so I’ll end up with a lot
    of them, but I don’t have a lot of stuff in general. I think that’s the
    way to go, if you’ve got one or two things that you have a thing for
    (most people do) and therefore collect as a sort of hobby, then that’s
    fine, but don’t buy stuff just to “have stuff” e.g. a plasma TV you
    don’t watch very often, shoes and clothes you never wear, etc.

    And for travel, of course, only take what you absolutely need, “need”
    being determined by a combination of two things: how often you will use
    it and the severity of the potential consequences if you need it and
    don’t have it. In other words, you might have something that you
    probably won’t need but if you do need it and don’t
    have it then the potential consequences would be quite severe and
    therefore it’s justified to carry it, a good example would be an
    emergency medical device such as an epipen if you’re deathly allergic to
    something like peanuts. The other end of the spectrum is something
    like a Kindle that you would use all the time but not having it doesn’t
    really have any particularly severe consequences, you’re not going to
    die without it, it’s not that big a deal, but considering the frequency
    with which you will use it and its relatively small size and weight, it
    too is justified in being carried along with the epipen: two things that
    are both justified in being carried for two very different reasons.

    How often will you use it and how severe are the consequences if you
    need it but don’t have it? A quick and simple little method I’ve come
    up with that works quite well, just two simple little questions and you
    can figure out immediately whether or not you should bring something
    with you.



    • Charlie Terrell

      I agree that visibly abusing the loophole will cause it to close. My first thought on seeing Jaktogo was “I hope they don’t ruin it for us scottevest owners!”

  • Victor Berrjod

    The idea of carrying everything I own with me that easily is tempting, I admit. Or at least reduce the amount of stuff I have… I see one problem that I’m interested in hearing how you’ve solved, though: some of the people you meet probably want to give you a souvenir (for example, on two separate occasions I’ve been given chopsticks as a gift from Japanese families the first time I’ve met them), so what do you do in such situations?

    • Benny Lewis

      I’d politely decline, or request something smaller. I tell them realistically that I have nowhere to store it. Memories are much better souvenirs, so I ask them to pose for a photo with me and that will solidify the memory forever.

      If it’s a culture where it’s very rude to turn down a gift, I’ll accept it and when I’m gone from them I’ll give it to someone else or leave it somewhere or recycle it, whichever is most appropriate.

      Although, chopsticks are something I could travel with in my bag and not notice any difference, so that’s hardly a good example. But if you don’t need them, then accept them if you must and do something with them later.

  • Benny Lewis

    Not really. There are some notes from school in my parent’s attic, and some books from languages I’ve studied – but I wouldn’t miss them or necessarily bring them with me if I settled down anywhere.

    Photos are plenty sentimental for me – I get lost in the moment when I see one. There are some notes people wrote to me I wouldn’t like to lose, but I’d simply scan them in. I’m as sentimental as the next guy, but can do it with a digital copy just as much ;)

  • Alexandra Jimenez

    Your review really made me laugh. It indeed is one UGLY jacket!! Unfortunately fashion and functionality do not always go hand in hand. :-D

  • Fabrice RIMLINGER

    One year crossing the Andes, alone, with 14kg of belongings, including tent, stove, climbing gear and food. This was the greatest time ever. I used everything I had Every single day. I ultimately understood the difference between “to need” and “to want”.
    So I fully agree with you on “stripping down our lives to start leaving… for real”.
    PS : I did this before e-readers appeared and I agree a kindle would have been fantastic at that time. Thanks for sharing. F

  • Charlie Terrell

    Jaktogo definitely reminds me of scottevest. I think both of my SeV’s (one is truly a vest and the other is a lightweight jacket with removable sleeves) look far more stylish though. Often wear mine just around town in cooler weather, carrying my iPad mini and several basic survival items… With some trimming down of stuff (see Benny’s points above) it’s easy to pack for a weekend in a scottevest. Or indefinitely under the right circumstances. Rolf Potts went around the world that way once. Fun times!

  • Kirstin

    What are your plans for when (if) you decide to settle a little more permanently somewhere? I feel like I would need to store much of my belongings at my parents’ house so I don’t need to repurchase big expensive things like a bed, desk, seating, etc. when I return. I don’t think I’d have a problem getting rid of most of my small things that are just sitting in the closet right now, but there are a few items that don’t seem worth it to get rid of if I’m going to need it again someday (and definitely wouldn’t fit with traveling)