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The cheapest way to fly is by going as hand luggage only so here you can find our best packing tips to make this easier. Low budget airlines love to add additional charges so these hacks will help you avoid those pesky charges. The only problem with that is that it’s not always easy to try and compact your clothes in this small space. We have travelled with just hand-luggage quite a few times and it takes a little while to work out the best way to pack effectively.
If you’re travelling on a budget airline then it is worth having a hand luggage packing checklist to ensure that you’ve packed everything. There is nothing more frustrating than strategically packing your bag and then being uncertain if you’ve packed something or not.
Table of Contents
1. Roll Your Clothes
We’ve tried this by just folding and rolling and it seems to be more space effective by rolling it. It makes your clothes a little bit more flexible so you can wrap them around bulkier items that you may want to take. Rolling is better but depending on the type of material it may more beneficial to fold certain items and do a combination of the two. For example, a lightweight t-shirt will roll easily and save a lot of space but rolling things like jeans or jumpers will be bulkier. Essentially, it is best to roll lighter clothes and then fold any larger / thicker items.
2. Wear Your Bulkiest Clothes
This might be a bit of an obvious one but we thought we would include it anyway. If you’re going somewhere cold then wear these bulky clothes to the airport to save some space. Make sure things like hiking boots, large jackets or jumpers are what you wear to the airport. It may be a bit warm at the actual airport but you can always remove layers. As we said before, bulkier clothes are harder to roll so it will be more space effective for you to try to wear these instead.
3. Buy at the airport or destination
Get your liquids that are either over 100ml or that you don’t have space for either at the airport or in the destination you’re visiting. Whilst it’s not sustainable, sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. If there is something that you need that you can’t fit in your case (such as hairspray, dry shampoo etc) then you can wait until you’re at the airport or your destination to purchase this and throw it away before you travel back. You can check out our article here for hacks on how to make the best use of this for hand luggage only.
4. Re-usable Travel Bottles
This is one of the best tips for when you’re packing your hand luggage. We would recommend investing in either small re-usable travel bottles like these ones that we bought. These are amazing and can be refilled up just with using the stuff you have at home. Then for any bits like hairspray, gel etc. you can look into buying the mini versions (but be warned they can be a bit pricier than the larger versions).
5. Use the Empty Space
If you’re packing shoes that are closed then use these to stow away your socks or jewellery. We find that this is really handy if you have any items that are fragile as it gives them a bit of padding. Check down the sides for any empty areas and maximise the space as much as possible.
6. Keep Essentials on Hand
Most backpacks often have a separate pocket somewhere. Use this space to keep your boarding passes, passports, house keys etc. It’s usually best to have a bum-bag or something of the like and keeping these items in there for security. Just make sure that you have some space left in your backpack for when you get to the gates to board the plane. There are some companies out there that will try to charge you for this at the gate so make sure you have the space just in case.
7. Ditch the Unnecessary
Ditch the unnecessary (no, we’re not talking about your partner) – the best way to pack is by taking items that you will be happy to wear a couple of times. Some people might not like the idea of this but unfortunately it’s the traveller way. Often we wear jeans to the airport knowing full well that we will get another wear or two out of them during the trip.
8. Smaller Equipment
If you’re taking a camera then consider taking a mirrorless one instead of a DSLR as it’s less bulky. Sometimes though, this can’t be helped. For us, we prefer taking a DSLR so we sacrifice other items to make space for it. Do you really need those extra lenses? What about the two tripods? Just try to keep everything as minimal as possible and work with the environment that you have, even if it can be more difficult.
9. Go Digital
If you’re like Amy and love reading when you’re away then it’s time to invest in a kindle. It’s not the same as a physical book but if you’re travelling frequently then it is a must. Amy misses her books when we’re away but tips like this definitely makes packing for hand luggage much easier. Make sure your boarding passes and tickets are saved on your phone. Most importantly that you’ve got this fully charged before you leave.
10. Check the Rules
Make sure you check the airline’s hand-luggage rules, measure your bag and weigh it before you leave for the airport. The last thing you want is to get caught with a fine at the gate!
It isn’t always easy packing with just hand-luggage. This is especially if you’re like us and trying to cram photography equipment in too. However, it is completely possible if you are honest with yourself on what you REALLY need for the trip.
If you’ve decided that hand luggage travel isn’t for you then have a little look at our generic packing list to determine what you will need for the length of time you’re travelling for.