When you’re only travelling with hand luggage, packing can feel like a serious challenge. And if you’re travelling for more than a weekend, trying to cram everything you need into hand luggage is enough to make you want to cancel the trip! But it doesn’t need to be that way…

Even when I wasn’t taking my large camera, I never thought I’d squeeze everything I needed into hand luggage. I always overpaid for check-in luggage and I always used maximum weight, so what hope would I have going without?

Flying frequently has helped me to streamline my suitcase. I now know what I really need each trip, and I’ve even worked out some pretty handy hand luggage hacks, too. I can thank The Stylish Travlr for that! Not only does travelling hand luggage only save me money, it also saves me time. There are no baggage drop queues at the airport, no waiting to collect your bags on arrival, and they’re not going to get lost in the airport.

It’s a no brainer, really, so are you ready to embrace the hand luggage lifestyle with these seven hand luggage hacks?

Should I fold or roll clothes?

What’s the first question you ask yourself when you take all your clothes out of closet and open the suitcase to pack? For me, it’s always should I roll that t-shirt or fold it? No matter which option you choose, your clothing will be the same weight, so it won’t help on that front.

Most of the time I fold my clothes – they end up less crumpled and if you don’t have time to unpack properly at the other end, it’s easier to find things this way. I do always check my hotels have irons though, so I know just how carefully I need to fold dresses or shirts.

How many clothes are too many?

Surprisingly, I’m not a traveller who makes a ‘what to pack’ list before each trip. Instead, I think about how many days I’ll be spending at each destination and what the weather is forecast to be like. This tells me how many outfits I’ll actually need, although I do always add extra one or two extra just in case, you know? 😉  

Some travel bloggers change outfits three times per day just to have a range of photos to share on Instagram. While this works, it can be easier to just change your hairstyle, add some accessories or pose differently in your dress. You’ll still have great and varied photos, but you’ll also be able to fit it all into your hand luggage!

Find out which 10 travel accessories make it into my suitcase here… you might just be surprised!

What can I do with my cosmetics and toiletries?

There are a few things you just can’t travel without, and those include your cosmetics and toiletries.  You might have an important meeting, so you need your trusty Chanel perfume in a small bottle. Or, perhaps you’re brand loyal or have sensitive skin, and you just know you won’t be able to source that product at your destination.

Whatever your reason, one of the simplest hand luggage hacks in the book is to stock up on 100ml plastic bottles and resealable clear freezer bags, 20cm by 20cm in size. You’ll find that some of your cosmetics already come in small enough containers to fit within the 100ml limit. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can’t carry more than 1 litre of liquid in total in your clear plastic bag.

But what if you’ve already filled your bag with your clothes and camera? Here’s a bonus to add to the six hand luggage hacks. Simply wait to stock up at the airport once you’re through security! You’ll need to weigh up whether it’s worth buying the travel-sized products still so you can bring them home with you, or whether you get better value for money and use out of larger products that you’d have to leave behind before flying back.

How about my camera bag?

If you have nice, expensive camera then it’s almost guaranteed that you also have a quality case to protect it. But if you’ve managed to squeeze your toiletries and clothes in and you’re travelling hand luggage only, what do you do with it? In a pinch, I’ll wrap my camera in clothes I’m packing to give it some protection. You can also get this nice camera case bag protector which works a treat.

Alternatively, check in with your airline to see if you can purchase a second bag? Certain airlines will allow you to take two items of hand luggage when you pay for certain perks. You could try EasyJet’s Speedy Boarder pass to get an extra piece of hand luggage allowed on board, for example. Hand luggage hacks are about maximising your space and use of it, whether that’s in one bag or two!

What about packing electronic devices in my hand luggage?

I try not to take my computer away if I can help it. When I travel, I try to treat it like a holiday, so I want to be sightseeing or sitting on the beach, not sending emails! My phone is enough to allow me to update social media, keep track of my inbox and workload.

If you don’t like using your phone all the time, you can get an iPad instead. It’s smaller and lighter than a laptop, but the larger screen makes it much easier to work with for longer periods of time. Plus, you can watch movies, read news, play games, and even edit photos!

For book lovers, travelling with hand luggage only can be a nightmare. Books are heavy things, and you’ll probably get through several in a week. That’s where the Kindle comes in!  It feels like you are reading a regular book but weighs almost nothing. This is one of those hand luggage hacks that’s not only helpful for packing, but great for when you get there, too.

Just make sure you check your airline’s rules on what electronic devices you are allowed to travel with. Some routes and airlines no longer permit some when you fly hand luggage only.

Help! I have too many chargers to fit in. What do I do?

When you travel with multiple electronic devices, you also have to travel with a lot of chargers and cables! For now, I’ve got extra batteries for my cameras so that I don’t need to pack extra chargers. I also have a multi USB charger with four cables, folded up neatly.

Frequent travellers will also love international adaptors! You pack one adaptor and it works almost everywhere! As soon as you get one, you’ll be wondering how you ever managed without one (and why you waited so long!).

What comfort essentials should I carry?

Whether your flight is four hours or fourteen, you want to be comfortable. I’m one of many people who are still afraid of flying, so it’s especially important that I have everything I need to relax once I’m on the plane. Plus, when the airport is a long way from home, you feel like you’ve already had a long journey before you’ve even taken off! The number one thing for me in this scenario is a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Luckily the rules changed and you can often have your phone on now while taking off and landing, so as soon as I sit down I turn my music on to drown out the unfamiliar noises of a plane preparing for its journey.

I also like to play games on my phone to keep my mind occupied, so I always have my portable charger to hand to keep my phone battery topped up. Sometimes I also take my pillow to get even more comfortable – especially when my flight is very early in the morning!

Now you’re equipped with this hand luggage packing checklist, you’re all set to enjoy your destination! Here’s how to make the most of your next weekend in Europe. And, if you’re a budding foodie like me, here’s your essential guide to eating out there, too.

What are your favourite hand luggage hacks?

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning I make a very small percentage of money on sales at no extra cost to you to help keep this site running. That being said, all products mentioned are ones I genuinely love that have enhanced my travel experience.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Great advice! Doing some of yours already. And like you, i also fold my clothes. I just can’t roll them like what everybody says. I need to work on overpacking though

  2. Haha, help, I have too many chargers! But I definitely love my international adapter. It is also such a relief just traveling with a carryon…I did it for the first time in ages just a couple weeks ago. See ya never, baggage claim!

  3. This is soooo helpful you have no idea! This is something I definitely need to look into because I always seem to pack more than what I need on my trips! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Thanks for the tips. I actually like buying all my toiletries at the airport. It makes things so much easier. Also love currency convertors with USB outlets for convenience.

  5. Really nice tips! I always put my camera and my computer in my hand bag, and I always choose one book to bring with me! I know that kindle would be better, but I love the feeling of the paper under my fingers 🙂

  6. Great post, I’ve just started travelling with hand luggage only. Do you not find that the international adapters are too heavy? Mine falls out of the wall…maybe I will take a look at the one you have!

  7. This is SOOO helpful! I have really been trying to fly with only carry-ons more recently and I am still learning all the best tricks. These tips were really helpful! Never even thought to look for an all in one charger base.

  8. Wow, I literally do the complete opposite of everything on here. Roll clothes, good amount of clothes (since I sweat alot, not because I need to take pics), multiple chargers and power packs, my laptop, stuffing my camera, no headphones/pillow, 3 pieces of toiletry at most. It’s almost crazy reading this! Maybe I will do what you do one of the times.

  9. Great tips, never thought about buying my toiletries on the ”other side”. I’ll need to consider this. And thank you for suggesting the second ”extra”bag. As digital nomads we must travel with Laptops then comes also the camera, Ipad, GoPro, chargers…ouf!!

  10. There’s some great advice here! I don’t make a packing list either but always bring my laptop, I find that I can’t do the same amount of work on an iPad.

  11. Hi! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the wonderful info you have got here on this post. I might be coming back to your blog for more soon.

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