Hand luggage hacks: What to pack in your carry-on

Handy Things To Pack In Hand Luggage

Your hand luggage has one big purpose – to allow you to keep the essentials close. You can of course travel carry-on only, but for most people, their hand luggage is simply a bag which they have on them at all times.

There will be all of the things in your cabin bag which you need for your flight, such as your passport and boarding pass and an extra change of clothes. But there are some essentials which may also be easy to forget.

Smart things to pack in your carry-on

Collapsible water bottle

You can’t carry an actual bottle full of water, as any liquids over 100ml are prohibited. But you can carry an empty bottle and refill it once you’re past security.

Unfortunately, empty bottles take up space. And you’re not allowed to carry them outside of your bag as bizzarely, it will likely count as additional hand luggage. So, a collapsible bottle is great.

It will fold down to nothing when not filled, but you can bring it out when needed. Most airports now have refill stations throughout the terminals, and you’re also avoiding single-use plastics.

An e-reader

Love a book or magazine? Maybe you buy them in duty free and then need to force them into your hand luggage on the return journey?

An e-reader doesn’t just help keep things to a minimum, but they also allow you to keep hundreds of books and magazines on your possession. No need to twiddle your thumbs when you’ve finished the latest best-seller halfway through your holiday, or throw away the magazine you hadn’t quite finished.

Portable charger

You have your phone charger, but what if there are no plugs? What if you’re waiting for your luggage at the other side and there are plenty of plugs but your adaptor is in the case you’re waiting for?

A portable charger can be a life-saver, especially if everything you need for the journey is actually on your phone, from the boarding pass to the directions to your hotel. They can’t actually go in hold luggage so you must carry them in your hand luggage, but if you aren’t usually a portable charger person, we think your mind will be changed.

Invest in a really good one though which can recharge your phone a few times.

Pack Portable charger in hand luggage


That feeling when you step off the plane is unbeatable. The heat which hits you, the sun on your face, the hustle and bustle of the airport and excitement in the air.

You know what also hits you? The suns rays. Many people forget to pack things for the ‘other side’, such as something which can stop the sun getting in their eyes or the sun burning their face so they are known as the Tomato for the rest of the trip.

Neither of these will take up much space, but your head will be thankful for them.

TIP: You may also want to pack some shorts which will ensure you’re a bit less hot at the other side, and layer up your top half when leaving the UK because planes can be chilly

A separate tote

Got a case which has to fit in the overhead locker as your hand luggage? You will quickly become everyone’s most hated person if you keep getting up and down for what you need, whether it be headphones or a packet of tissues.

So, why not take a separate tote and keep things you’ll need for the flight in there before you board, and then keep that under your seat when you’re in the air? No standing and reaching up constantly, and you have everything to hand in one easy place too.

Plus, an empty tote is always handy, whether you’ve bought a heavy bottle of something in duty free or you need to go to the supermarket on your way to the apartment.

Hand sanitiser

Everyone’s favourite money-can’t-buy product of the Coronavirus pandemic (which thankfully is a bit easier to come by now).

But if you’ve only recently started using hand sanitiser, you’ve come into contact with a lot of germs in your time. Planes are notoriously dirty places too – yes, they’re cleaned in between flights but not top to bottom. Some cheaper airlines hardly at all.

So, use hand sanitiser. It will have to go in a 100ml bottle (some can be bought like this), but it is great when you can’t actually wash your hands. Because there is no fresh air on a plane, if one person has a cold or influenza it can spread.

If you get it in a spray version, you can also clean down the area where you’ll be sitting, such as the tray table and arms. Use a tissue to wipe around then bin it.