Free UK Shipping

Packing For A Hand Luggage Only Holiday

By Laura Feasey  -

Posted on 11 June 2018

Packing For A Hand Luggage Only Holiday

Whether you're going on a short break, trying to save time at the airport or save money on your ticket, flying with hand luggage only is becoming an increasingly popular method of travelling. But how the hell do you manage to pack an entire holiday wardrobe into one teeny tiny cabin bag?


Each summer, I head to Spain to visit family with just my hand luggage in tow, so I like to think I've got it pretty much nailed when it comes to packing smart. Here are a few of my top tips for holidaying with hand luggage.


Build Your Basics

Build Your Basics

Image by Ecophiles

One of the keys to travelling with hand luggage is to master your basics wardrobe. A good capsule wardrobe is anchored by a few key pieces, whether it's a great pair of chinos, a crisp white shirt, a chic black polo neck, some reliable denim or a classic cashmere sweater. Lay out some neutral items and work out how they can be mixed and matched. Also choose transitional pieces… dresses that can span day to night with a change of footwear, or trousers that will go from the beach with a tee to dinner with a shirt.


Add Personality With Accessories

Add Personality With Accessories


Just because you're picking neutrals to anchor your wardrobe, it doesn't mean your outfits have to be boring. Pick a couple of accessories that'll bring a touch of personality to any ensemble, whether it's a fabulous hat, some jewellery, a watch, a tie, or even a pair of standout shoes.


Smart Beauty

Smart Beauty


This is the most difficult bit about a hand luggage only holiday, not only do you have a space restriction, but by law, you can only carry a certain amount of liquid. In the UK it's a 1 litre limit, they must be in containers of no more than 100mls, and they have to fit into a transparent 20x20cm bag (but be wary of this, the first time I calculated my allowance my bottles wouldn't actually fit in the clear bag at the airport, so it's a good idea to try packing them into a freezer bag of a similar size).


Refine your skincare routine to include only the absolute essentials. Think about whether you will get shower gel and shampoo at your hotel, opt for solid soaps and shampoos like the trailblazing types at Lush, or see if you can buy affordable supplies at your destination. I like to stop at the chemist in the departure lounge to buy essentials like sun cream, deodorant and mouthwash. Otherwise, there are plenty of minis available now, from dry shampoo to face wash. Sachets and samples are also a great option, or you can buy clear mini bottles to decant your favourite full-size products. You can even find makeup minis and perfume minis to help save on space.


Choosing Your Bag Wisely

Choosing Your Bag Wisely

Image by Trakke

You can't just choose any old carry-on if you want to nail your holiday wardrobe with such restricted space. Choose something that is durable, light and with pockets or compartments so you can organise items. I find a hard mini suitcase is great for cramming in all the necessaries, just watch the weight limit, they can be quite heavy to start with.


Space Savers

Space Savers


The mantra of hand luggage travellers the world over - roll, don't fold. It takes up way less space and doesn't create as many creases. Also, don't leave any dead space in your case, pack your shoes with socks and fill any little gaps between items with your underwear.


What To Wear To The Airport

What To Wear To The Airport


Summer destinations are more hand luggage only friendly, if you're heading somewhere cold, you'll need bulkier clothes and lots of layers. Wear your heaviest items to the airport, whether it's your coat, knitwear, jeans or boots. If you're heading off on a summer holiday, go for layers, don't waste the space on a jumper if you're heading from a cold UK to a hot Riviera, layer up to keep warm on this side and to give you more options at the other end.

More Posts