Find out about well-proven methods of organizing hand luggage that will streamline your packing and make it easier for you to use the contents of your bag or suitcase during your trip.

You’re looking forward to your long-planned trip, aren’t you? But there’s something that curbs your enthusiasm…

Does the very thought of packing cast you down? Relax, there’s no need to panic. We’ll help you go through the whole packing process painlessly by providing a handful of well-tested tips for optimal hand luggage organization.

How to pack your hand luggage?

How to pack your hand luggage?

The advantages of travelling with hand luggage only

Do you know why it’s a good idea to give up checked luggage and use only your hand luggage to pack up?

The first argument that comes to mind is obviously the money you can save in this way. Abandoning the use of checked baggage will also mean:

  • no extra charges on the plane,
  • no extra charges when using other means of transport, e.g. public transport.

However, the lower cost of travel isn’t the only advantage of scrapping the idea of checking in luggage! By not taking a big suitcase with you, you avoid carrying it, so:

  • you move more smoothly and quickly,
  • you relieve the pressure on your spine and hands,
  • your hands are free.

Besides money, you’ll also save something priceless, and that something is time! And not just once, as:

  • you don’t waste time queueing to check in your luggage,
  • you also don’t have to wait for your suitcase after you leave the plane,
  • packing less luggage takes less time,
  • it takes just a few minutes to unpack when you arrive at your destination and return home!

Do you already understand why it pays off to fit all the things you need in your hand luggage only? So, get going! Time to start packing up!

A comfortable trip with a backpack as hand luggage

A comfortable trip with a backpack as hand luggage

Packing your hand luggage – where to start?

So, you’ve decided that you’re travelling with only your hand luggage? Then good organization is essential! If it’s going to be just your extra luggage, you’ll also find here useful tips on what to put in it and how to go about it!

Let’s start with what you can’t do. Then we’ll move on to what you need and finally, we’ll deal with what you want.

Check the hand luggage restrictions

Before you start packing your things, it’s important that you check what are the maximum dimensions of hand luggage that your carrier allows. It’s very important! They differ from one airline/carrier to another and exceeding them will mean additional charges. Then decide what you will use to pack your things: a bag, backpack or maybe a cabin suitcase?

Also, remember to check the list of items you can’t carry in your hand luggage and check what you can’t bring into the destination country.

A checklist of items needed for your trip

Make a list of necessary things before packing up. Ideally, you should start drawing it up as soon as you come up with the idea of taking the trip. Then gradually keep adding items as you remember them. While packing up, tick off the items you have already placed in your suitcase or backpack. You will later thank yourself for this. This way you won’t forget to take the essential things and the packing process won’t be as chaotic and stressful as before.

Before packing up, prepare your traveller’s checklist

Before packing up, prepare your traveller’s checklist

Don’t pack too much into your suitcase! Why isn’t it a good idea to stuff in your things with your elbows and knees? It’s simple – all your clothes will get crumpled. You should also bear in mind that you’ll probably come back from your trip with some souvenirs. You need to allow for some room for them.

Packing your suitcase – the smart way

Packing your suitcase – the smart way

But don’t pack too little either – the empty spaces will cause the contents of the suitcase to move about. The fragile things can get damaged, and even carefully folded clothes are bound to crumple.

What to pack in your hand luggage?

If it’s your only luggage – pack everything you need for your trip :). If you’re taking it as extra luggage, the items worth putting it in it are:

  • documents,
  • snacks for the journey,
  • a charger,
  • valuable possessions (especially those of high sentimental value),
  • a set of things, useful once you arrive at the hotel, that will let you refresh yourself after the journey without having to unpack your luggage immediately (e.g. pyjamas and toiletries),
  • a complete set of clothes for one day (in case your checked luggage gets lost),
  • essential medicines,
  • a complete set of clothes for one day (in the event of loss of checked baggage). Similarly, you can sort all luggage and pack clothing sets in a separate pouch for each day of the week.

How to limit the number of things you take with you?

What if the number of things you put on the checklist is huge and there’s no chance to fit everything in your hand luggage? Before you decide to pay the extra charge and check in your luggage, think again.

How to fit things into a small holdall suitcase

How to fit things into a small holdall suitcase

Divide all the things you have prepared into two groups – items that are really necessary and you can’t give them up whatsoever and those you want to take with you for some reason (e.g. because you like them, they are nice, because they may come in handy or because they’ll make your journey more comfortable). Only when you’ve packed items that belong to the first category, add more things until there’s no room in your suitcase/bag/ backpack.

Travel organizer bags for your suitcase

Travel organizer bags for your suitcase

It’s also important to check what your accommodation offers. You may not need a hairdryer or towel, for example. However, if you need to take a towel with you, replace your large terry towel with a compact one, made of microfibre.

If you’re not travelling alone, a great idea to cut down on your luggage is to share some of your cosmetics and accessories with your travel companions. Taking shampoo, toothpaste, a straightener, or books to share will be a way to noticeably cut down on the weight of your luggage.

Tricks for smart hand luggage packing

There are several ways to fit more items in your luggage and reduce creases on your clothes. It’s a good idea to learn the popular technique of rolling up clothes or stuffing ready-made sets of clothes into socks.

Rolling up clothes prevents them from creasing

Rolling up clothes prevents them from creasing

If you need to take many garments, you can also consider using vacuum bags (just make sure you can use them on your way back as well). Also very helpful when smartly packing hand luggage will be organizer bags, which will let you sort your luggage into several categories (a very practical thing to do) and in this way help you keep things in order.

Bags to carry cosmetics

Bags to carry cosmetics

The packing order is very important!

This is probably the most important point of this guide! As far as organizing your hand luggage goes, the packaging order plays a huge role. You should try to stack things from the heaviest to the lightest, and from the largest to the smallest. This ensures that the light items, such as clothes, don’t crumple or get damaged under the weight of the heavier ones.

When packing your cabin suitcase, remember to spare some room in its top part. You’ll use it for organizers with the items you will have to unpack and show to customs officers during the security check at the airport. Convenient access to electronic equipment and the plastic bag for liquids will help spare you stress and save you some time.

Also in the top part of your travel bag, you should place documents, snacks and a separate pouch with things that you may find useful once you arrive at your destination (pyjamas and cosmetics). Plus, remember to pack (e.g. using small bags – travel organizers) tiny items (such as jewellery) to prevent them from kicking around in the suitcase or accidentally falling out when the luggage is opened on the plane or at the airport.

Organza bags will protect your jewellery during the trip

Organza bags will protect your jewellery during the trip

What else should you put in your hand luggage?

Finally, we present 3 ingenious and versatile gadgets worth remembering when going on a trip.

It’s a good idea to pack a large scarf into your hand luggage - you can use it as a blanket on the plane

It’s a good idea to pack a large scarf into your hand luggage – you can use it as a blanket on the plane

  • A large scarf – which will effectively protect you against wind, cold or excessive sun exposure. Apart from its traditional use, it can become a makeshift blanket or pillow on the plane, while in churches or mosques it’ll let you cover your legs or shoulders.
  • A universal socket adapter/adapter with a splitter – the socket adapter may be necessary if you’re travelling to a country where sockets different than ours are used. As for the splitter, it’ll let you connect more than one device at the same time!
    An organza bag with dried lavender

    An organza bag with dried lavender

  • A scented bag – it’s a simple thing and it’s fun! Travel with class! Just imagine how pleasant it’ll be to open your luggage after a long journey and smell the fresh scent! When you arrive, you can hang the scented bag in your hotel wardrobe. If you choose dried lavender flowers, you’ll protect your clothes from the possible presence of uninvited guests – clothes moths.