I'm just starting to plan my rtw which i want to start after i graduate in the summer of 09. In my research i've read some horror stories about lost luggage and backpacks being torn apart by airport conveyor belts and the like, so i'm liking the idea of buying a pack that i can carry on planes. My questions are these: Is it feasible to get a pack for a year long rtw that is small enough to carry on a plane (with just the bare necessities) ? And does the convenience of being able to do this out weight the annoyance and cost of having to re-purchase items (like swiss army knives, lighters etc.) which aren't allowed on planes? Has anyone done this and do you have any recommendations for a specific back to use?
I'd look up the things you aren't allowed to bring onto planes these days with the added security - you can only bring very small bottles of liquid for example (not even the size of a small water bottle). You could do it but you wouldn't be packing much more than clothes. Look up what you can and cannot bring and see if you could cope without these things. For me as a female it wouldn't make sense as there are so many toiletries, make up, prescription meds etc I couldn't bring. It would be very handy though!
Unless you are planning to spend a long amount of time in one hit travelling overland rather than on many flights, I would ignore those horror stories you have heard and instead buy a decent backpack where the straps have a cover that can zip over the top. If you zip that cover over the straps it means they can't get caught in conveyer belts and it means that in most cases the pack wouldn't tear apart. It would only allow the opportunity for the little clips that tighten or stretch the backpacks capacity to be broken off. That should only be an issue if you left them unlclipped or the excess material dangling instead of rapped around the tightened bit of material.
I have sent my backpack under about 80-100 flights around the world (maybe even more), two round the world trips and plenty of domestic travel and have only had one minor mishap with slight damage to the backpack and it was slight. I have also had my bag not turn up at the other end on two flights (one being the first flight I ever caught outside of Australia) but both times it was tracked down the same day and returned. Now with all the rules the paranoid american government has brought in and made world standard, if you only take a small backpack that is carry on, you will need to buy shampoo, soap, deodorant etc after every flight when if you had one to go underneath you could buy a large bottle of shampoo, blocks of soap, large cans of deodorant etc without having to either be unhygenic (and by doing that attract unwanted attention) or buy up after every single flight. This would work out quite expensive especially for a female if you had to buy up after every flight especially on a long trip where you get a lot of flights.
Not sure what country you live in, but if they have one where you live you should take a look at a Mountain Designs backpack like the Oddessey range. They have many hidden covers etc that do what I am talking about and you would see that if you had a backpack like that and used that strap cover on all flights how you aren't likely to have a wrecked backpack through putting it as checked in baggage on a flight. It would normally be a clumbsy person who doesn't take any precautions that finds that their backpack gets severely damaged on a flight.
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 15, 2008, at 6:42 PM by aharrold45 ]