How to pack hand luggage!

For some trips (in my experience up to ten days backpacking – for this this I skipped packing my laptop) you only need hand luggage. It’s much cheaper than booking items into the hold and if you know how and what to pack properly you can save a lot of time and money and stress should a hold bag go missing. And here’s how.

First off, you’ll need a good rucksack. I would say a rucksack over a shoulder bag because they are much better for your back and harder to pick pocket. Mine is a 30L Osprey Quasar – shown in the featured image. It cost about £45 and when full (and I mean really full) it fits on nearly all airlines. Even Ryanair. It’s worth spending a bit more on a bag that will be better quality. Mine has lasted a year and Osprey gave me insurance to replace it even if a zip breaks in any country for up to a year. I have not needed it and it has been used a lot.

I normally put a soft hand bag (ie – one that is not rigid and can fold up) in my carry on. This can take the wait off after security and is a handy way to keep all your important things safer and together/easily accessible.Which brings me onto documents. This includes passport, EHICs, boarding cards, transfer tickets, student ID, railcards, Visas and ESTAS and whatever else you may need. In this smaller hand bag I also keep two purses. One which I use everyday in my home country and a smaller one with my foreign currency and cards in it. It saves getting confused trying to pick out coins in a rush at the airport or on public transport. 

DSCN1514My keys, sunglasses and my charged camera and Kindle plus my Kindle’s light also go in this handbag. Having a light on the Kindle is useful if you are flying at night and don’t want to disturb people with the overhead light, and it can also be doubled as a torch. Kindles are a travelers best friend in my opinion. Yeah sure nothing beats holding a book but you can’t carry 100 of them in your bag can you? Any way, this “bag in a bag” system just a handy way of not scrabbling around to find stuff. I also put in my phone charger and one adapter, just in case I get stuck and need my phone. Pop in a notebook and pen/pencil with emergency contact details and names/addresses/numbers of hostels you’ll be staying in. This is especially handy if you arrive late at night in a taxi

Next, in the compartment closest to my back I put my laptop and charger, plus any other chargers that I may have, usually just for my phone and mp3, so just a regular USB cable.

DSCN1513In another tiny pocket at the front of my back pack I keep a padlock, my phone, my mp3 player and a USB stick with photocopies of all my important documents (and some movies) on it. In case I need to reprint them or if one gets destroyed or something. Because it’s on the front of my rucksack I use a carabiner to hold it shut. It’s not the safest, I know, but you can definitely feel someone trying to undo it.

I’d say these are the essentials, but this is no where near done for me!

DSCN1520I find a collapsible water bottle is a great way of getting around this no liquids rule at airports. You can empty it before customs, roll it up or clip it to your bag then refill it on the other side and save money on water etc. I got mine in Lisbon, but you can get them here. They are so handy, I really don’t know what I did before it!

Always wear your heaviest shoes to travel in, even if you have luggage in the hold. Good trainers or hiking boots take up a lot of space and are heavy, so in your hold bag pack a pair of flip flops, sandals, or small shoes in the water bottle pockets at the side. This is also useful if you are going from a cold country to a hot country. I forgot to put these in the photos, but they are there in spirit…

Speaking of a change of clothes, pack spare underwear, socks, t shirt and (comfy) shorts. If you get delayed or if you lose your hold luggage it’s a good way to feel fresh again. Take a toothbrush too, it really helps to waken you up.


Put liquids at the very top of your bag before going into customs so that you don’t have to rearrange your whole bag looking for them.  As a rule I take a small tube of toothpaste (which you can get free from any dentists office in the UK – handy hint,) a travel size deodorant, small bottle of anti bacterial gel, a sample of perfume (acquired for free by being bold at perfume and make up stands) and, my most recent favorite discovery – a small can of dry shampoo. These are all my essentials, but I also put in a small tin of Vaseline, mascara (which has a tiny mirror on it and was free from a magazine – hello saver!), eyeliner and Benefit’s teeny tiny sized Benetint and High Beam. Though when travelling I don’t tend to wear a lot of make-up. I do however pack make up wipes in my hand luggage, as they are handy to fresh up faces, hands, underarms, feet etc in a quick toilet cubicle shower.

I pack a travel Tangle Tamer (I have a leopard one – once again I forgot to put it in the photos!) because these are truly amazing and take up less room than my normal paddle brush. I also take any medicine I might find useful on planes, out of their boxes to as to save room. This normally includes Rennies, hayfever tablet, paracetamol, Kalms, loperamide and Lockets for me, but remember to take inhalers or whatever medicine you need to take in case your hold luggage is lost and you need to take something daily. I usually have a few plasters kicking about as well, not just for cuts and scrapes but they also are handy for temporary “fix its”

Finally, I wear a travel scarf from The Travel Wrap Company – shown in the featured image. This can be scrunched up when you don’t need it, used as a scarf, pillow, tent if you don’t want to be disturbed, picnic blanket, pretty much anything you could want in a piece of fabric. Mine was a present but I realise they are a wee bit expensive.

If you are in the UK, the shop Bodycare is a fantastic place to find cheap brands and travel sized products. I absolutely love it in there. I’ve never spent more than £20 in there and that is buying a lot of stuff in there.

Let me know if I have forgotten anything! What do you take in your hold luggage?


Author: Kirsty

24, severe wanderlust

2 thoughts on “How to pack hand luggage!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s