Travelling with carry on hand luggage only is a bit of an art form. Most airlines have strict regulations for the size and weight of your bag, as well as restrictions on liquids – but if you get it right, you can save money, get in and out of the airport quicker and travel for months on end with just the bag on your back.
Here are our 15 top tips for how to pack hand luggage only!
We suggest a soft-sided case for handluggage only travel. Hard cases are great for hold luggage, as they can take more of a beating, but you’ll have this bag with you for the whole time, and soft-sided packs let you squeeze in even more! Interior pockets for organisation are great, but remember that the more ‘stuff’ in an empty bag means more weight and less space to pack. Of course, if you’re looking for the ultimate travel backpack, look no further than our Storr backpack.
When you’re choosing your clothes, pick styles and colours that go together. We’d suggest taking at least 3 outfits, plus what you wear to the airport – but capsule wardrobes work well, because if you take 3 t-shirts, 3 pairs of trousers and a couple of jumpers that all work together, you’ve got 18 potential outfits from only 8 garments!
Don’t take too many multiples when you travel. On a two week trip, for example, it’s tempting to take 14 pairs of underwear but the most you need is 3. One to wear. One in the wash. One drying. That goes for pretty much any garment: if you stick to the rule of 3, you can travel with one carry on bag for months!
You never know where you’ll end up when you’re travelling, so we always pack a shirt and some chinos. Perfect for that fancy looking bistro you might stumble across!
Don’t pack bulky items like heavy knits or jackets – if you need them, wear them to the airport to save space in your bag! You can always take them off when you get through security.
Rolling clothes can save space and prevent creases. It takes a bit more time, but it lets you pack more in! Check out our four classic packing hacks to see how it's done!
Packing cubes are a great way to save space and stay organised. Pack your clothing in one and your underwear in another. You can also use them to pack shoes to stop your bag getting dirty. We take a spare for our dirty laundry too. Our Foulden packing cubes come in a range of sizes and you can check out our ultimate guide on packing cubes and pack like a pro!
Don’t forget to fill all those dead spaces in your pack. Stash your underwear inside your shoes or your t-shirts in your pockets!
Airlines limit liquids to 100ml per bottle, but if you take them, you have to remove them from your bag at security. If you travel often, we’d recommend ditching liquids altogether. Instead, pack a bar of soap wrapped in a face towel, solid deodorant sticks and toothpaste tablets. There are plenty of solid cosmetic options out there!
If you can’t bear to get rid of liquids, keep them in a clear washbag. You’ll still have to take them out of your bag, but it will save you transferring them over to a plastic bag before you go through security.
Technology has made it easy to keep your pack compact. Swap physical books for a Kindle, keep all your entertainment on a tablet and replace your long charger cables with short 15cm cables to keep them neat and tidy on the move.
When you’re packing, make sure your washkit and electronics are at the top of your bag and easy to access so you can whip them out in a flash and get through security with minimum fuss.
Don’t forget to download all your favourite books, music, podcasts, tv shows and films before you fly. If your flight gets delayed, it helps to have something to pass the time.
Roaming charges in Europe have just been dropped, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll have signal everywhere you go. Luckily, you can save whole regions on the Google Maps app so you can use them offline. Just type in the area you want (e.g. Scotland), click on the place name at the bottom, and select download! Sorted!
This is the golden rule. Pack your bag once then unpack it. Lay it all out on the floor, and work out what you can do without. Then repack, and do it all over again. Try not to take duplicates or those ‘just in case’ items – you probably won’t need them, and if you do, you can probably buy them at your destination if you really need them.