Packing for 'Carry on' only!

Published on 21 April 2024 at 16:50

Can you really travel with just hand luggage for your holiday?

....I say yes!

It can be done but, it's not easy. In this blog I will share my hints and tips for packing a backpack and travelling light. This is coming from a self-confessed over-packer. Traveling light has required me to completely rethink the way I pack and reevaluate what is classed as essential on a trip. 

Budget airlines such as EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air charge hefty prices for checked luggage, but also for larger bags you want to place in the overhead lockers. Only a bag small enough to fit under the seat in front of you is allowed free of charge. They do check – It can be quite entertaining watching passengers trying to squeeze bags I the bag sizer but to no avail.  

Here are my top tips......


Size matters 

For maximising weekends away more people are traveling budget airlines and are subjected to bag size restrictions. Check the bag size and weight restrictions for your airline. Do not assume that all airlines have the same bag size requirement.... believe me they are all different. Each airline will have a bag dimension requirement and a bag weight requirement. Depending on where and when you are flying airlines do not always check .... but assume that they do. So many times, we have stood there and watched people trying to squeeze their bag into the bag sizing cage at check in. Airlines DO CHECK more frequently than you think. If your bag is too big or too heavy, they will hit you with a hefty fine! 


Packing cubes 

Luggage packing cubes create more space in your bag thus allowing you to pack more of your beloved items. An added bonus is they also keep your luggage in better condition during travel (less wrinkled, dry, and clean), Cubes help separate items, so each has its own place, and your bag/suitcase looks (and is) much neater. This way so there is less stress while you are getting ready to conquer the world. 


By packing shoes and accessories that match all your wardrobe you can save space on unnecessary items. Shoes are often a bulky offender in the packing dilemma. By choosing a day pair which can be worn on the plane and an evening pair that match all your outfits you can ensure a sensible packed bag. I also tend to colour co-ordinate my wardrobe so tops and bottoms can be swapped around giving variety to your outfits without over packing. 

Travel size 

Its surprise what come in travel size these days. Pop into any supermarket or high street chemist and you are likely to see a whole section of smaller travel sized versions of your favourite toiletries. Whilst these are required to mee the current security restrictions on liquids in hand luggage it also save space in your bag. In addition to liquids there are many other travel size items such as folding hairbrushes and collapsable water bottles that can save valuable space in your bag. 

Roll with it 

It is best to roll clothes instead of folding them – you’ll be surprised at how much more you can fit in it is also less likely to leave your clothes creased and needing an iron. Small items like underwear and swimwear can be tucked into the corners of your bag or placed into shoes to save even more space. 

Save space 

So, space in your bag is limited... if you wear the bulky items on the flight these don't need to go in your bag thus leaving you more space for your swimsuit. If you are travelling to colder destination and have a coat the pockets are useful. I have placed things likes hats and gloves in the pockets of my coat (which I wear on the plane before I pop it into the overhead luggage compartment) This way you are saving space in your bag for other items.  

Be organised  

When planning your holiday wardrobe, we tend to lay out outfits for each day. My rule for hand luggage packing is to get rid of at least a third of them – you just will not need them. It is okay to wear clothes more than once especially if you have only worn them for a fleeting period. Nobody is going to judge you, especially not on holiday! 

Security proof  

Security checks can often be busy and hectic. In order to pass through security checks quicky and without trouble you need to be organised. Keep items that need to be removed from your bag prior to scanning easy to access (and remove) in your bag. Toiletries and electrical items that need to be removed at most airports should be easy to get to. Most importantly check there are no items that are prohibited.... No one likes to be that person pulled to one side because security has found a random lip salve at the bottom of bag (One of my many previous mistakes!)