Exploring the world through budget airfares has changed the way we perceive travel, unlocking doors to numerous destinations, both nearby and slightly farther away. Whether it’s a short weekend getaway or a long-haul flight, smart packing is the first step toward a more enjoyable travel experience, especially when you travel with hand luggage only.
How to pack everything you need for an unforgettable multi-day vacation using just one bag?
First and foremost, it’s crucial to acquaint yourself with the specific rules and limitations set by airlines regarding carry-on baggage. Each carrier has its own regulations on weight, dimensions, and permissible items in the cabin.
Types and dimensions of carry-on luggage: What qualifies as “carry-on” luggage versus “personal” items?
“Carry-on” luggage, which travels with you in the cabin and fits in the overhead compartment, should typically have dimensions around 55 x 40 x 25 cm. While these dimensions are considered a general rule, every airline writes its own rules. Therefore, it’s essential, prior to travel and ideally when purchasing a ticket, to check the allowable baggage dimensions for your flight.
Interestingly, these low-cost airlines tend to define their own rules regarding carry-on baggage. For instance, with the cheapest tickets on airlines like Wizzair, a “personal item” measuring 40x30x20 cm is included in the fare. On the other hand, if you opt for Ryanair, which often offers budget flights with the “personal bag” option, this refers to baggage with maximum dimensions of 40 x 20 x 25 cm, fitting under the seat in front of you. These dimensions might seem small at first glance but are entirely sufficient for a classic city break spanning two to four days, enabling you to take advantage of the cheapest airfares (which can indeed be quite affordable for travel with such baggage!).
For weekends and short trips, go for a backpack or small bag
These aforementioned dimensions are actually quite adequate if you pack strategically, even for journeys spanning several days. This way, you can save on airfares. From my experience, when traveling with minimal luggage, you can often find tickets for as low as 5 euros per flight. For longer weekend getaways or short trips, it’s wise to travel with a small-sized backpack or bag.
Efficiently packing for travel with hand luggage only carry – what to pack
When packing for a multi-day trip with only “personal” baggage, it’s essential to carefully select each item to ensure maximum versatility and comfort. Maintaining a color palette that allows easy mix-and-match of clothing is helpful, as is opting for lightweight fabrics. Choose basic pieces such as shirts, pants, a versatile dress, and a layered jacket. Pick a pair of comfortable shoes that you can wear throughout the trip to avoid carrying extra footwear.
If you don’t want your outfits in photos to appear mundane, you can always add interest with a stylish hat, scarf, shawl, or belt.
Select minimal amounts of jewelry or perhaps universal pieces that complement everything. Avoid carrying anything valuable. The same rules apply to makeup. For a few days of travel, you can manage with a few basic cosmetics. Speaking of toiletries, bring shampoos, toothpaste, and other necessities in travel sizes, not exceeding 100 ml per item, or 1 liter in total due to carry-on restrictions. Place these toiletries at the top of your bag for easy access during airport checks.
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In terms of technology, I’d recommend only carrying a mobile phone/camera because for a few days of travel, you probably won’t need a laptop and other gadgets. Don’t forget your charger and adapters for sockets.
The myth about rolling clothes or is it better to stick to good old folding?
Rolling clothes is an efficient packing method. Often, we hear that rolling saves space and prevents wrinkles. From my experience, both packing methods are equally effective and keep clothes neat. If you’re traveling with a backpack, rolling might be the easier and better option to utilize space. However, if you have a suitcase, I believe you can choose either folding or rolling clothing technique. After arranging clothes, fill gaps with smaller items like socks. Prepare outfits in advance for each day.
Pack worn and dirty clothes in separate bags for easier access in your luggage. If you have a large jacket, coat, boots, or any other bulky clothing item, wear them during the flight to save space in your bag.
Examples of packing pouches for easier organization:
The ultimate tip – travel with hand luggage only
With the advantages of today’s era and affordable airfares, I think it would be foolish not to utilize all the opportunities available to us. A round-trip flight for less than 50 euros is something we could only dream of just a few years ago. Therefore, with smart packing, minimal carry-on luggage, and budget travel, you can explore Europe and its outskirts for a bargain!
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Three rules for smart packing:
- Less is more!
- Choose wisely what to carry!
- Dare to travel with a backpack!
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