How to travel with hand luggage only

It’s the dream of every traveller to be able to pack and travel light.

Less baggage means less to carry around, less to worry about and certainly less chance of arriving at your destination without it.

Let’s face it, how many items of hold luggage go astray every year? Sometimes, baggage is merely delayed for a few hours or days, however, a lot ends up lost, never to be seen again.

Not only is there the risk of loosing checked-in luggage, there’s also the charge imposed for the privilege of carrying it, and the costly penalties if your luggage is overweight. What we initially believe to be a ‘cheap’ flight can sometimes double in price when you add the cost of checking in hold luggage.

The inconvenience of having to transport your luggage to the airport, having to wait an eternity for your luggage to appear on the luggage carousel and then having to transport it to your accommodation can make you wish you had never bothered and just listened to the advice of some seasoned travellers, that of ‘travel right, travel light!’

Personally, I prefer to travel light – it’s such a wonderful feeling being able to just glide past the luggage carousel while your fellow passengers are scrambling for the trolleys, hoping that their luggage won’t be the last unloaded.

Travelling light is an art, one that requires forward planning, the desire to not pack the kitchen sink and faith that you will have sufficient clothes to last the trip.

When travelling without luggage you don’t have to struggling onto public transport as your bag is light enough to carry and small enough to place under your feet or on your lap. Travellling becomes cheaper, you can rely on public transport, or you can hire a smaller car – how many times have you faced booking an upgrade because your luggage didn’t fit in the trunk?

Nothing screams tourist more than large suitcases.

How to travel with hand luggage only

Always check your airline’s website for details of your hand-luggage allowance – size and weight of bag and restricted items. It goes without saying that knives and sharp objects are banned from hand-luggage, but be aware of the liquids in hand-luggage rules and monitor restrictions in the lead up to your travel. Restrictions can and do change quickly, so always check.

Packing tips:

  • Pack with colours in mind – a colour-coordinated wardrobe allows flexibility
  • Pack lightweight clothing that can be washed and dried overnight in your room.
  • Don’t overdo footwear, a pair of lightweight shoes/pumps to travel in and a pair for evening/beachwear may be all that’s necessary
  • Don’t overestimate how many clothes you will need, so many of us pack an item because the occasion may arise when we will be required to wear it – and how often does that need arise? Exactly, just don’t bother, leave it at home
  • If you’re uncertain what clothing to pack, check out the weather for your destination. If it’s likely to be cool in the evening, one sweater or cardigan will do – there’s no need to pack more
  • Restrict clothing to lightweight items, forget jeans, they are too thick for warm weather, too heavy, take too long to dry, and take up far too much room in your bag.

When buying a travel bag specifically for cabin baggage, don’t forget your weight and size allowance and remember, external wheels count as part of the dimensions.

To be ultra sure about everything fitting in your bag, particularly if this is your first attempt at travelling light, pack your bag about a week before, weigh it and make sure you can carry it around comfortably. If all your items don’t fit, or your bag is too heavy, unpack it and reassess your items, removing anything you’re uncertain about.

Liberate yourself from the luggage nightmare, pack light and be the envy of the crowds at the luggage carousel.

Excess baggage fees cost British travellers up to £270 million

How many people do you know that can travel light? You know, friends and family members that can take proper advantage of cheap flights because they don’t need checked-in luggage; they can quite easily limit their items to hand-luggage only.

Now, I must say that I’m not one of those people, occasionally, for short breaks, I have managed to fly with hand luggage only, but not often. I’d love to be able to pack lightly, but I just don’t seem to be able to do it, and it seems that I’m not alone as the results of research carried out by Expedia show.

When it comes to packing, us Brits do go over-the-top, to such an extent that it may well have cost us, as a whole, up to £270 million this summer – how many extra holidays could we have had with that amount?

In fact, one in six admitted paying excess baggage charges, while one in ten (5.4 million passengers) paid an average £50 in excess baggage fees in the last 12 months.

From their research, almost one third (58%) find city breaks the hardest to pack for – the wide range of activities offered by a city break, such as site-seeing, shows, dinners etc mean that we pack for every eventuality.

If you’re one of the highly-skilled travellers who can pack lightly, get along to Expedia’s website ( from 1 October and take part in their packing challenge: “Case Closed”. The game will challenge participants to pit their packing skills against other players through the viral game and also against their friends through a Facebook application to find the champion packers. Sounds like fun, but I don’t think I’ll be winning the packing game, neither Expedia’s nor the airlines’ excess baggage charges one, anytime soon ☺.

5 tips for buying luggage

I always recommend checking your suitcase well in advance of travelling, just in case it’s looking past its sell by date and needs replacing.

Check your suitcase about a month before flying and if the stitching is looking frayed, or any part looks a bit too worn to cope with another round of battering, being transported to and from your holiday destination, then replace it. It’s just not worth the risk of it giving up and breaking mid holiday or spilling your clothes in the baggage transport system of the airport. How embarrassing and costly would that be?

When looking for a new suitcase or set of luggage shop around and consider the following tips:

1 Check dimensions before purchasing
Check the checked-in baggage size restrictions of your airline before you go shopping and take the dimensions and a tape measure with you.

2 Not too big
Don’t buy suitcases that are too large. Airlines are reducing the weight limits of checked-in baggage, and having a suitcase that is very big will only encourage you to pack too much and could lead to you paying expensive excess luggage charges.

3 Avoid expensive looking luggage
Buy sturdy cases, but don’t go for anything too flashy and expensive looking. Expensive luggage implies expensive contents, and could make it a target for thieves.

4 Wheels
Make sure you go for cases with wheels, I think they all have wheels now, but my favourite type is the wheel-anywhere ones that you don’t even have to tilt, they’ll roll in any direction when upright.

5 Buy quality

It is much better, and more cost-efficient, to spend a little extra on a sturdier case with a long guarantee than to go for the cheaper option that may require replacing in a couple of years.