It is thought that around 20% of travellers stick to just hand luggage for a two week holiday.
Quite a horrifying thought.
What about all those repeated outfits? Travelling without your pot of hair gel? Having to squeeze everything into that tiny Ryanair-friendly case?
Unfortunately, 30% of these travellers will likely have to pay extra charges because the weight of the cabin bag is too much, or it has to be extended on the return journey because they have bought so many nik-naks.
But what if you’re the king of travelling light? Or you don’t want to have to grab cheap flights and then have to spend as much on luggage as you have the hotel?
There are so many benefits to travelling hand luggage only. It is cheaper, as most airlines will give you a carry-on bag for free (and charge high amounts for hold bags). It is also quicker as there is no check-in involved (it waiting at the luggage carousel once the plane has landed).
Some people also find it is safer as your luggage is always with you, so there is no chance of it becoming lost or damaged. No having to wear the same UK-weather-suitable-clothes in Benidorm because the airline lost your case.
But how do you do it? If you can’t see how you could possibly stick to just hand luggage (or you’re not sure how practical and secure it is), read on so you can master the art of Hand Luggage Only…
Know Your Allowances
You may already have a hand luggage case which is perfectly fine for use on one airline, but if you’re travelling on another, you need to ensure it is still within the size and weight limitations.
If it is too big, the airline reserves the right to ask you to check it into the hold – which defeats your plan of travelling hand luggage only. But likewise, if it is too small you may not be making the most of your allowances.
TIP: Also check what your airline allows you to take. Some airlines and destinations don’t allow some electronics, for example
Hard Or Soft Shell?
Hard seems the safest and most practical option in terms of protecting what is inside, but if you’re going to be pushing it to the storage limit, soft shell will give you a bit more leeway.
Look for a bag with pockets on the outside where you can keep your passport and other important bits and bobs at reach, so you don’t have to have to open the case in the middle of security and have everything burst out.
Pack A Capsule Wardrobe
You aren’t going to be able to pack as many clothes as you can with a full-sizes case. So please, pack responsibly.
Don’t stick to patterns-only, because those stripy shorts won’t go with spotty t-shirts. Likewise, don’t pick just bright colours, because as much as they may be the most comfortable things you own, khaki trousers and neon shirts together is a no.
Pick things that all go together. If you have denim or black shorts, you can be a bit more playful with the shirts. Four t-shirts, three shorts and one jumper mean a wealth of outfits, enough for a week without repeating.
Ensure you mix it up a bit, though. Maybe some smart shirts and trousers as well as daytime pieces which can keep you cool, in case you go for a nice mean one night.
And shoes. Please don’t think you need a pair for every day. You don’t. And unless you’re going to the middle of nowhere, there are likely going to be shops where you can buy a pair of shoes if one miraculously becomes damaged beyond wearing. You did save on hold luggage, after all…
Don’t ‘Just In Case’
Again, shoes. You usually take some you don’t even wear. A pair of comfortable walking/travelling trainers will already be on your feet, so a pair of sandals and a spare pair of shoes will be plenty (again, keep them plain).
If you never usually wear face cream, don’t pack it. You can buy suncream there, or duty-free. We are also all guilty of packing too many swimming outfits and too much underwear. Nobody will notice you’re in those swimming shorts for the third day in a row, and you will not need ten extra pairs of boxer shorts just in case.
TIP: Wear any bulk. Taking a jumper, even if it is set to be 30 degrees, isn’t always a bad idea, but wear it when travelling to save precious space
Do you just throw everything in and hope for the best? Packing cubes are a great way to keep everything organised, and also fill up every single corner of availability.
Clothing can go in one, and underwear in another, so you don’t have it all littered around in the gaps. Plus, if you have to empty your case because security needs to check something, your boxer shorts won’t be all over the security belt.
You can even take a spare for dirty laundry. If you’re not up for this, we ask that you at least don’t fold them. Rolling them can help you keep everything down to minimum proportions, saving space. Plus, it prevents creases.
Also, remember to fill the ‘dead space’. Put things inside your shoes, such as sunglasses.
Consider Your Liquids
You’re limited to the liquids you can take on board. They must be in 100ml bottles, for a start. But you can actually buy solid versions of almost everything, from soap bars instead of shower gel (obviously) to solid toothpaste and shampoo.
The good news is that these don’t count as liquids. It also means you don’t have to leave anything behind as you can bring them back with you, so there is no waste.
If waste is less high-up on the agenda though, in most places there will be shops nearby where you can buy the essentials and leave behind what you don’t use – but just watch as this could be costly depending on where you’re going.
TIP: Keep liquids at the top of your case, along with electronics, so they can be brought out when going through security
Still Stay Secure
You may need to open your hand luggage in security or on the flight to get things out, but when the case is out of your sight (for example in the overhead locker) it is a good idea to keep it locked.
Cases with a built-in lock are a great idea as it means no keys are required, but if you’re travelling with someone else and have a padlock, try keeping each other’s keys safe.