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How to Travel with just Hand Luggage

by Travelbag on 08 June 2021, 16:06PM

We know that travel restrictions make booking a holiday right now extremely complicated. But we’re hopeful that, in the coming weeks, more countries will be added to the green list and the world will start opening up once again. While things like social distancing and pre-departure testing mean travel will be different to how it was pre-Covid, there are still ways to make the airport experience as stress-free as possible. And one of those is to holiday with just hand luggage.

There are a whole bunch of benefits to travelling with hand luggage. For starters, there’s no need to arrive at the airport early to drop off a bag. And when you get to your destination, you can simply breeze through security and hop in a taxi – no wasting precious holiday time hanging around at baggage reclaim. Plus, it should save you a few pennies, too, since most airlines now charge passengers to check in a suitcase.

Restricting yourself to hand luggage may seem like a daunting task – particularly if you’re going away for more than a couple of days. But with a bit of careful planning, the whole thing’s actually a doddle. Just follow our handy tips.

Hand luggage

Pick the right bag

Suitcase or backpack? Hard shell or soft? Not all bags are created equal, so these are important things to consider when all you have is a cabin bag. There are advantages and disadvantages to every kind of luggage. So give it some proper thought and pick the bag that’s going to work best for you. And it might vary from one holiday to the next.

If you know you’ll have to walk a reasonable distance with your bag, for instance, think about whether you’d prefer to carry it or wheel it. Your specific holiday destination may influence this decision. Because while wheelie suitcases are great on sealed roads, they’re a nightmare on grass and cobblestones. And while hard shell suitcases offer more protection, they are heavy and will eat into your baggage allowance. So if you’re someone who’s not great at packing light, something squishier might be a better choice. But whatever kind of bag you go for, if you’re only allowed one piece of hand luggage onboard, it’s always a good idea to pick something with pockets. That way, all your essential items – liquids, passport, Covid test certificates – are easily accessible as and when you need them.

Size matters

Annoyingly, one-size-fits-all isn’t a thing when it comes to hand luggage. Every airline likes to play by its own rules. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, for example, let you bring a small personal item – like a handbag or laptop bag – as well as a larger cabin bag. But many other airlines restrict you to one bag only. There’s also a lack of consistency in the size of bag allowed. And while most airlines don’t impose a weight limit on hand luggage – the general rule is simply that you must be able to lift it into the overhead locker unassisted – there are one or two that do.

If your bag turns out to be too big or too heavy for hand luggage, you’ll end up having to pay to place it in the hold. And it’s far more expensive to do that at the airport than it is to pre-book a checked bag online. So our advice is to always check the rules before you fly. Even if you think you know, baggage policies do get updated from time to time. So, it’s worth taking a look at the airline’s website, just in case.

Hand luggage size

Choose your clothes wisely

When travelling with just hand luggage, you unfortunately won’t be able to take everything you might wish to. So you have to be selective. Be realistic about what you really need to for your holiday, and only pack things you can mix and match. There’s no point wasting precious suitcase space on a pair of shoes that only go with one specific pair of trousers – or which you’re only likely to wear once.

If you’re worried about running out of clean clothes while you’re away, don’t panic. Most hotels offer a laundry service, while Airbnbs typically have washing machines. Or you can always do a quick wash in the bathroom sink. And if you’re fretting about being seen in the same outfit twice, chances are no one will care – or even notice.

Pack smart

When you’re limited on space, it’s not just what you pack that matters, but also how you pack. On the whole, rolling your clothes saves more space than folding them. However, there are exceptions. Bulky items, like jumpers, can actually take up more room when rolled. Plus, rolling can cause wrinkles in certain fabrics. For best results, you’ll probably need to use a combination of the two techniques, depending on exactly what you’re taking with you.

And if you really want to cram in as much gear as possible, you might want to switch up your packing game entirely and invest in some packing cubes. These handy little things not only compress clothes, they’re also a great organisational tool. Plus, they’ll allow you to separate your dirty clothes from your clean ones once you’re away. Another option is to use vacuum storage bags. While putting every single item into them is a tad excessive, they’re very useful for squishing down particularly large items, like coats.

Hand luggage packing

Layer up for the flight

We’ll admit, it’s far easier to holiday with hand luggage in summer than in winter. Swimsuits and flip flops obviously take up far less room than jumpers and boots. But travelling with just a cabin bag is still doable in the chillier months. To maximise space in your hand luggage, wear your bulkiest clothes on the flights. Just make sure you wear something lightweight underneath. That way, if it’s hot onboard, you can delayer rather than running the risk of overheating.

Limit your liquids

The liquid ban has been in place since 2006, so we’re all pretty familiar with it by now. And we all know what an absolute pain it can be. Trying to fit a multitude of liquids, all in containers no bigger that 100ml, into one tiny plastic bag is probably the hardest part of travelling with just hand luggage. But it’s not impossible. The trick here is to be selective. As with your clothes, consider what you really need to take – and what you can buy once you reach your holiday destination. Or what your hotel might provide even for free.

If you’re going away with a travel buddy, there’s no sense in doubling up on things. Split as many things as you can, particularly if you’re going to be sharing a room. Chances are, you won’t need two tubes of toothpaste for a week-long holiday. And if you want to take hand sanitiser – which, in this day and age, you probably do – remember that it has to fit into your resealable plastic bag along with all your other liquids. However, if you’re really pushed for space, you could always take antibacterial wipes instead. Although they’re wet, they don’t count as a liquid, so you can carry them separately.

Hand luggage liquids

 

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