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How to Pack for Your Trip in Hand Luggage

If you're planning to jet off for a short break over the Bank Holiday weekend, chances are you won't need to pack as much as you would for a normal holiday. Why not save time, space and money by packing for your entire trip using hand luggage only?

With a little practice, you can even use the following techniques to fit a week's (or more!) worth of luggage in to a small backpack! Give it a try!

The pros of travelling only with hand luggage:

  • Money saving - no baggage charges.
  • Time saving - walk past the long check in queue and head straight for security. There is also no need to wait at the luggage carousel either!
  • Stress saving - No lost, delayed, or damaged bags.

Before you begin:

Firstly check your airline's hand luggage sizes. Some of the airlines are stricter than others, and will require any handles, pockets or straps to fit inside these dimensions also.

Choosing your bag:

If you are opting for a rucksack or soft bag, make sure it is:

  • As light as possible.
  • Slightly smaller than the airline hand luggage dimensions. This is to allow room for any expansion of the bag when packing.

Before you travel, it is important to check that your bag will be comfortable when fully packed and that you are able to carry it without any difficulty. If you appear to be struggling, airline staff may wish to inspect the bag. If they find that the dimensions or weight restrictions are over, your hand luggage may have to travel as hold luggage instead; this will incur a fee.

When packing:

  • Folding your clothes in to squares is space inefficient; it encourages creasing and bulk. Instead of folding, lay your clothes out and roll them.
  • Next place your rolled clothes around the edges of your bag first and then fill in the middle with smaller items. This is an excellent way to use up all of the space, especially if you have a rounded shaped rucksack.
  • The next step is packing bulkier items such as trousers. Lay the waistband of your trousers on top of your rucksack with the rest of the legs sticking out the edges of the bag. Grab another pair of trousers and lay the waistband on the other side.You want to alternate folding the legs of the trousers over one another, tucking round the edges as you go.

The aim of packing this way is to balance the weight of your bag by alternating the heavier parts of clothing with one another and save space.


  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane.
  • Only pack what you need and not 'just in case'.
  • Pack clothes that are lightweight, can dry easily and quickly.
  • Choose items and accessories that complement each other so you can mix and match.
  • A maxi dress is great for the beach and can be glammed up for the evening.

All hold and hand luggage restrictions can be checked on the website or with your individual airline carrier.

Do you have any packing tips of your own? Why not share them with us in the comments!

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