So…. As you can see from the below picture, when I’m left to my own devices I am a bit of a hoarder and like to pack for every eventuality known to man. This is what I brought with me for a three-week placement at the zoo down in Luton. I can honestly say I’ve barely used any of it and my only excuse is that I’m a Yorkshire lass and needed to be suitably prepared to tackle the Southerners!
Now that many airlines are charging extra for hold baggage, it can amount to an annoying increase in cost to your trip. As a cheapskate and typical broke student, who still loves to scrape the money together to travel, I try to keep added expenses to a minimum and because of this, often choose to travel with just hand luggage. Now again, referring back to the above photo, you can see how this must be quite a feat of engineering … and I’m not going to lie, it is! But if I can fit a week’s worth of travel gear in a 40Litre rucksack then so can you!
So… Here are my top tips for fitting your life in a hand-luggage sized bag!
- Get a 40Litre Rucksack – Most 40Litres are roughly the dimensions of approved cabin sized luggage (but always double check first before buying!) and are additionally are incredibly pliable and you can shove and squash to make things fit! The amazing thing about rucksacks is that if travelling around a lot (My next travelling adventure will take me Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna in the space of 1 week!), you can take everything with you on your back like a camel (sorry inadvertent zoo reference, I always have animals on the brain!) and not have to worry about dragging a suitcase through masses of people or cobbled streets (been there, done that and do not wish to repeat the experience!) and it also means you have your hands free. These rucksacks also couple as great day bags for all the essentials as they’re not too bulky. You can get a cheap 40L off Amazon for around £15, check the reviews to see how comfortable and durable people found them so you can find one that will last you.
- Buy a micro fibre towel – I bought this for my travels in India and I can honestly say it was one of the best things I ever did. Normal towels are clunky and take up a huge amount of room and if you’re a cheapskate like me, you don’t want to fork out buying one out there only to have to leave it at the end of the holiday when faced with the same packing problems. The microfibre travel towel folds up into an almost flat A5 piece of paper sized square and fits in without a problem. It also dries incredibly quickly. Pick them up on Amazon for under £8.
- Take something to fashion a washing line out of. A cheap bit of washing line rope curled up and squashed in, not only can be incredibly useful if something breaks and needs tying back together (speaking from experience), but is also great to hang your wet things on. If you can do a quick wash of a few clothes in the shower, it means you can take less if you have somewhere to dry things.
- Wear your bulkiest clothing items onto the plane – coats, walking boots, an evening gown… whatever your heaviest, most difficult to pack items are, wear them on the plane. Even if you look ridiculous, it will be you who’s laughing when you’ve managed to take everything with you on your journey.
- Get some small 100ml pots for liquids – as a vet student, I often get a few urine sample pots from the vets (clean ones of course!). However, you can get these online for a few pounds and they’re great to decant some of your liquids into so you can take them in hand luggage. Some big brands like Nivea have jumped on this band waggon and started doing their own travel kits which are great, but if you want to do it on the cheap, just buy the pots and use your own supplies from home.
- Pack the minimum when it comes to make-up – On holiday with (hopefully) sun-kissed skin you don’t need foundation and most of it will come off during the daily activities anyway. My advice would be to take your favourite eyeshadow, a waterproof mascara and eyeliner and your favourite lipstick and maybe some concealer to tackle any cheeky spots. Highlighter and all that shit has no place on a limited packing list!
- Take packs of tissues – you can literally fill any dead space with them and you never know when you’ll encounter a spill, something sticky or if you find yourself sat on the loo with no toilet paper!
- Take an empty water bottle – once through customs you can go and ask for it to be filled up with tap water at one of the eateries, this saves money on extortionate airport prices. It also means you’re ready to go when you’re travelling either by using tap water (if safe) or buying the cheaper bulk bottles of water and filling up every day at home rather than constantly buying the small ones which work out more expensive.
- Get a Revolut card – This saves carrying around wads of cash stuffed in your purse and if you’re zipping to multiple countries you don’t have to carry different currencies. It’s used like a debit card and you get bank exchange rates. You can also use it to draw out cash when you get there at any ATM. It’s topped up from your phone so you or someone back home can ensure you have available cash all the time. It’s free to set up, just leave enough time before your trip for them to send you the card in the post. https://revolut.com/
- It sounds stupid but I do it without fail every time…. DON’T PACK SHARPS IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE! It’s so easy to absentmindedly throw some nail scissors, a nail file or a razor in while packing. If you’re like me, said sharp pointy object is usually hidden right at the bottom of the bag, so when you get stopped at customs you have to spend time fishing through all your underwear to try and locate the offending article! So learn from my mistakes and save some time, effort and embarrassment at customs and leave your nail file at home!
So these are my packing tips for stuffing your life into your hand luggage. In two weeks time, I’ll be trying to practice what I preach in preparation for my trip so I’ll let you know how it goes! Until then, Happy Travelling! x