• Kelly Hunt

Hand Luggage Only: How to pack light!

So firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently, I've been soooo busy these last few weeks! But I'm back and ready to share with you my top tips for what to pack for those of you going on short trips, hand luggage only trips, or those of you who just always end up packing way too much stuff that you don't use!

Choosing your bag

First things first, think about your mode of travel. If you're going anywhere by plane you'll want to check what the baggage allowances and restrictions are. These can vary between different airlines so always check the website of the one you are travelling with. For example Ryanair allows one cabin bag (which may get put into the hold unless you pay the extra for 'priority' boarding) plus one small bag such as a handbag, whereas Easyjet allows one cabin bag only, and believe me I've seen people get charged extra at the gate for trying to bend this rule!

As most of the flights I take are with Ryanair I'll continue writing this post with their rules in mind, so one cabin bag and one smaller bag. So which bags do I use? Well on my most recent trip I got a new cabin bag from Amazon (which is linked in the image below).

I also use a smaller Osprey backpack sometimes, which is more like a daypack, so comes in handy for taking around cities etc, but obviously holds less stuff. The Amazon backpack has a few strap attachments which means you can change up your options in terms of how you carry it, and also has a load of useful pockets and different sections to keep your travel documents and other bits and pieces easily accessible. It's not going to win any style awards but it's pretty good for organising and maximising the amount of space you have at your disposal.

As for a smaller bag, this almost always ends up being my camera bag! A DSLR (even a smaller one like my Canon EOS 100D) plus three lenses soon takes up a decent chunk of your main luggage, so it's just easier and more practical for me to have this separate in its own bag.

And if you were wondering why I choose a backpack over one of those wheelie cabin bags, it's mostly because I cannot stand those things! I'm forever trying to get around packs of people in Airports that drag them a mile behind them and creating a constant threat to my ankles! All grudges aside I also prefer backpacks for getting around train stations and places that have a lot of stairs!

What To Pack?


I think everyone has their own idea of what 'essentials' are but there are a few things that you should definitely not leave without! These are:

  • Travel Documents: Passports, visas, tickets, booking confirmations, boarding passes, travel insurance, and another form of ID, such as a driving license (especially if you are renting a car)

  • Money: either in the form of cash or a card that can be used abroad (be careful of extra charges for doing this!)

  • Medication: If there is medication you take regularly, or need in the event of an emergency make sure you have enough to last the trip, plus some spares just in case. Also check the expiration dates of anything you are bringing and get a copy of your prescription to take with you. If you are travelling with someone else it is a good idea to split medical supplies between your bags so that if one bag gets lost or stolen you aren't left high and dry.

  • Phone: Make sure your phone is set up for use abroad, have digital copies of your travel documents on here as a backup, and remember to bring your charger!

  • Electronics: Just bring the essentials, a travel adaptor and a power bank is always a good shout for when you are out all day!

  • Locks: Depending on where you are going/staying its always useful to have a couple of TSA approved locks to keep your things safe.


Anything else like clothes and toiletries are things that, in a pinch, you can buy when you reach your destination. That's obviously not ideal though! So here are the things I tend to take for a long weekend:

  •  Toiletries: travel sized (less than 100ml) bottle each of shampoo, conditioner, face/bodywash, toothpaste, toothbrush, small roll-on deodorant, and the one I always forget- a hairbrush.

  • Makeup: The fewer liquids the better for going through security! Stick to your staple items, which for me are foundation (Revolution's fast base stick foundation is amazing and a travel friendly size), mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick (one neutral shade, and one a little more vibrant). Any products which can multitask are also great for travel, such as bronzers or highlighters that double up as eye shadows etc.

  • Clothes: this is usually the difficult one! I think it's easier to pack for colder climates simply because you will be wearing a lot of your clothes to travel in anyway, and you know for sure you need to pack warm clothes! Check the forecast for your destination and pack accordingly. For three days you only really need one pair of jeans, a couple of shirts, a jacket and clean underwear. Don't forget you will be wearing one outfit to travel in, so as long as you have a few items that mix and match well you wont feel like you are in the same outfit for days.

  • Shoes: Again, don't over pack shoes, they are usually heavy and take up a lot of space! If you are just going on a city break, some comfortable but stylish trainers or sneakers should do just fine. If you are doing anything a bit more adventurous like hiking you may want to take something a bit more substantial for walking in. If you're heading to the beach or staying in a hostel a pair of flip flops or sandals that can lay flat in your luggage is worth having too.


So we've packed everything we really need, but there are a few other things that you may want to bring with you of course! So for me, my camera is always coming with me, but for you that might not be so important. Also things such as guidebooks can always come in handy if you need any inspiration for your travels, or just a normal book to keep you entertained for the journey. Remember though that the more you bring, the more you need to carry, and the less space you have in your bag for souvenirs!

There are also so many useful things you can bring along with you without wasting any space at all, in the form of apps! I definitely recommend downloading a map that you can use offline, and any apps for local public transport are really useful too. You can also use apps like Duolingo to brush up on your language skills.

So to conclude before I ramble on forever, when packing hand luggage only, less is definitely more! I think I read once somewhere that you should pack what you think you'll need, then you should half it. And for the most part this is true! As long as you have all your essentials ready you don't need to weigh yourself down with anything else that you might not need/ use. As long as you've considered your destination, climate and activities there's no reason to take more than one bag on a short break! 

I hope this mini guide has been somewhat useful to you, if you have any tips of your own feel free to comment below, and if you liked it leave a like :)

About Me

By day I work in digital communications and graphic design, but when I'm not working there's nothing I love more than heading out with my camera and exploring somewhere new...


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