I'm dealing with this now for international travel and wanted to add to the knowledge base. This is what I plan to try. Some packages I would carry with me after use, others I would anticipate buying or borrowing. For me, considerations include: light, durable, doesn't needlessly creating trash, inexpensive.
- Using my 50' camp/multipurpose rope to thoroughly bind the entire bag, effectively "weaving" an external bag. This seems the best solution and is what I intend to try, combined with the next. (Carry rope with me for use in camp, etc.) I anticipate the airline asking me to sign a form holding them harmless from damage, which they may do for backpacks anyway.
- Using what I can only describe as a "inexpensive large woven tyvek-like reusable plastic grocery bag with zipper" as a carry-on bag, in which I'll put clothes, camera, "allowable" items in order to diminish bag size, and then use the camp rope to tie up the bag.
Said bag is apx. 1/2 size of a large backpack, has handles and is very light weight, very strong, a tiny bit bulky due to the strength. It's made out of material similar to a "woven plastic" rice bag. I bought mine at the Park Slope Food Co-op (Brooklyn), but I've also seen them in Chinese groceries. It would be perfect if I could find it in duffel bag size. (Carry with me to use for trip home or throw out after use.)
- Getting "onion bags" from the grocery (these bags are made from a very strong material like loosely woven burlap and hold about 50 lbs. onions. Problem: could make my bag smell like food. But I'd expect to be able to find onion bags in many places. (Throw out after use.)
- Buying a roll of packing tape and binding the bag as necessary. (They may or may not have tape at the airplane check in, but it's easy to buy.) (Throw out after use.)
- Large cardboard box. (Use for shelter my first night if I arrive after the hostel has shuttered for the evening. Or throw out.)
- Commercial products here: http://www.polypakamerica.com/index.php
- Robert Matson