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Many people nowadays choose to travel hand luggage only and it does have its advantages. Not only can it save you being charged for putting a case in the hold, but there is also no fear of losing your luggage or waiting for your luggage. If you are travelling using public transport at any time during your journey it can be easier to manage. If you have ever traveled by train with a large suitcase you will know it's not easy. Especially if there are no lifts at the stations. What's more there is not enough space to store your luggage on a lot of trains and if the train is full with people with luggage or buggies etc you can be left standing by the door with your cases. So I certainly see the advantage there. From now on train journeys for me will be taken with as little luggage as possible. Whenever that may be.
However, when it comes to travelling with only your hand luggage there are many things to consider. Especially for plane journeys. First of all, of course, is familiarizing yourself with your airlines policies and restrictions. Not just on the weight of your bag/case but also it's dimensions. This can really vary between airlines, so always double check. And if you are using a few different airlines on your trip then pack in accordance to the one with the biggest restriction. Also be sure to check whether you are entitled to 1 or 2 pieces of hand luggage. For example a handbag and a main bag. This does make matters easier but it's not always permitted, as I have seen many a person find out too late.
The first effective way of travelling using only hand luggage is to minimize the weight of your bag/case. You do not want to waste valuable weight on your bag/case before it has anything in it. You can get really lightweight cases now. Before you start to pack, weigh your bag/case to see what you have left.
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Travelling hand luggage only is certainly an art form and a science. Like I said, I have never done so but I have been doing some research for this post. Choosing what to pack is even more of an essential task and where using a packing list can really help you see where you can cut items or choose an alternative version. Say for example rather than packing jeans you pack a lighter weight trouser or leggings. The best people to emulate are air hostesses, when they pack for stop overs, and there are plenty of tips out there from them. You can see some tips here and here. Whilst on this linked post, several cabin crew members share their cabin bag must haves. There is also this great blog post about packing lightly with a family. See also my blog post on packing tips.
I think the key tip is if it's not essential don't pack it! Likewise if it's a 'just in case item'. The exception being if it's related to your illness, in which case PACK IT! Obviously each trip is individual and will require you to take different items for each country/climate/culture however in today's globalized world you are never too far away from being able to pick up some basics should you need too. Taking the panic out of those 'but what if' items. This is where your research will again come in handy. Do you need to pack a hair dryer? Or does the hotel have one? Or if you're going somewhere hot do you really need one at all? The same with toiletries, does your hotel provide any?
Again, obviously if you might need something for your health or are concerned about catering to certain dietary requirements whilst you're away then of course pack them. To be honest, if you know that you do need to take a lot then you are best factoring in paying for a case to be put in the hold. It is better to have everything you need than trying to avoid extra charges.
There are lots of tips too on how to create a capsule wardrobe that's perfect for packing light. So rather than packing lots of dresses (ladies) think about packing more separates that you can mix and match with many other things. For example, a tshirt that you can wear with jeans or shorts or a skirt, so you can mix up your looks but with fewer items.
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Many of us have heard that rolling our clothes is more space saving than folding them, as well as preventing some creasing. However, another space saving idea is to bag your clothes. Many experienced travelers now rely on packing cubes like the ones above, as they help compact your clothes and keep them separate from other items. You can also get clear ones. Another option that travelers rely on is to use vacuum bags as you can really pack more clothes into your case.
When it comes to packing your toiletries, remember any liquids must be under 100ml and no aerosols are allowed in the cabin, so if you are travelling hand luggage only then sorry lads no lynx spray or ladies that means no dry shampoo or hair spray. As for sun tan lotion you will probably need to get some either in the departure lounge or whilst away to comply with the restrictions as most bottles are around 200ml. However you can get 50ml mini versions on some brands such as Nivea and Ambre Solaire so that can tide you over in the meantime.You will need to keep your liquids in a separate see through bag anyway, but remember to put it at the top of your luggage or even in a separate compartment. That way when you go through security it is easy to find and take out to the scanned separately. The same for any electronic items.
A great tip I saw was to invest in an adapter plug that also has a USB socket so you can charge all your gadgets etc but not have to pack all your cables. There are many portable charging devices available now too, which are a great idea from travelling abroad to a camping holiday.
If you like to read on your holidays then take a kindle or ereader (if you have one) rather than books. Or you can see if your hotel has a library, where people have left books they have finished with. You can also use your kindle to download travel guides.
Ladies, remember that items such as tweezers and nail scissors are prohibited items in your hand luggage. You may wish to get your brows and nails done before you go away. Use a strengthening solution on your nails to prevent breakages or even just nail polish can help your nails stay strong.
One way to get around what you can and cannot pack would be to purchase items in the departure lounge, once you've passed through security. So many departure lounges are like mini shopping malls. If you like to have a magazine to read purchase them at the airport. Just be aware that once you get to your gate your hand luggage could well be weighed. I know Ryanair do this (but I'm not dissing them as they have always been great with me on the special assistance front.)
Always plan to wear your heaviest items for travelling, such as jeans, jacket and trainers, saving space and weight in your bag/case.
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On that note I think something that we are going to see more of is people being saavy and 'wearing' a lot of their hand luggage. Not layering up on clothes until you resemble the Michelin Man exactly (but you never know) but investing in jackets that have multiple pockets. Many now are even specially designed to hold kindles/ereaders as well as phones and documents. The one below is actually known as a travel jacket, it might not be the most stylish thing ever (ok that's an underestimation) but it does make travelling light a whole lot easier.
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Remember that on your return journey if again you have opted to not put any bags in the hold then you need to be as vigilant with your packing. We all know bags seem to weigh more on the return trip and that can be without any extra purchases. If you have bought anything whilst away though remember it has to comply with all the rules of what you can take into the cabin with you. So again you might have needed to buy those nail scissors while you were away but you will soon be parting with them.
So I hope I have given you some ideas about how you can travel more lightly and with hand luggage only if you need to. Remember though as a chronically ill person never scrimp on the things that you need.