With the world starting to open up, getting away and escaping the real world for a few days sounds like a dream. Whether you’re hopping on a long- or short-haul flight, getting the train or driving just an hour outside of town, a break is still well-deserved.
Especially in this country, there is very little need to overpack. You can usually buy anything you’ve forgotten at home or abroad, unless you’re travelling to somewhere incredibly remote. How often do you go away and not use at least 20% of the items you take? Whether it’s a T-shirt you don’t even like, luxury toiletries you’ve never even used at home or tonnes of snacks when you’ve eaten out most of the time.
Many of us can get away with taking just hand luggage on a trip. Usually, a small suitcase, rucksack or holdall is the right size but it does vary per airline (make sure to check before you travel). If you are planning on taking just hand luggage, keep reading for our top tips on packing light as well as everything you need in a hand luggage backpack.
Top tips for packing light
Most of us hate it but if you want to go away, packing is a requirement! The more you do it, the better at it you get, just like any skill. Following the tips below should help to make the packing process as painless as it can possibly be.
Make a list - The first thing you should do before you even start to pack is make a list. You can find plenty of examples online but you should always personalise them. It might sound ridiculous but walk around your house so you don’t forget everything. List every piece of clothing, toiletry, technology, medical and miscellaneous item you can possibly think of. You’ll probably find 25% of them are ‘just in case’ items so think about whether you really need that item. Cross things off as you pack them and then you’ll be left with a last-minute list to pack the night before or the morning you travel.
Pack early - Whilst packing two weeks before a trip is a bit too far in advance, packing a couple of days early will allow you to rest the night before you travel. Of course, you can’t pack every single item in advance, such as technology and some toiletries, but just try to pack as much as you can. Even if it means you have to rejig your suitcase the night before, at least you know everything you need is there!
Invest in packing cubes - Even if you’re only taking a bag and not a suitcase, packing cubes will be your new go-to travel item. By rolling your clothes into packing cubes, you’ll give yourself more room for bulkier items, such as toiletries and shoes. They usually come in a pack of 4-6 so there are plenty of options. Pack similar items together, such as clothing, underwear and nightwear and toiletries.
Pack clothes that mix and match - When you’re heading away, that is the time to create yourself a travel capsule wardrobe. You’ll be able to wear bottom half items multiple times, jumpers and sweaters can be worn again by wearing a base layer underneath and one pair of shoes can be worn daily if you’re really short on space. Have a colour palette in mind, lay out the items you might want to take on your bed and plan outfits before you pack them. You can even snap pictures to remind yourself which items go together and pack them in outfits or by type.
Invest in a travel steamer or clothes spray - For longer trips where you’ll be wearing items more than once, a clothes spray will be your new favourite travel companion. Spritz clothes on an evening when you take them off and they’ll be fresh for the next day. They’re pretty inexpensive and will fit in any toiletry bag. If you travel frequently, you might want to invest in a travel steamer. Many sanitise clothes whilst also removing creases so shop around for a lightweight model that’s also compact.
Always travel in the bulkiest items - It might seem like common sense but you’ll be surprised at how many don’t! It’s especially important on hiking and outdoor trips or if you’re travelling between climates. Whilst it ends up often not being the comfiest outfit to travel in, you’ll be thankful of the extra space. Wear boots, waterproof jackets and thick jumpers on your journey as you can always de-layer during it.
Make use of the dead space - From inside your shoes to spare pockets, make sure you use as much of the bag or suitcase space as you can. Put small items of jewellery inside socks, store socks inside any footwear and use smaller items to plug the gaps in your suitcase. We guarantee it will make a huge difference with the smallest of items!
Limit your toiletries and liquids - Even the best packers can have liquids leak in their bags or suitcases. Because of this, you should take as few as possible. It’s one area that most of us overpack with anyway so you should only take the essentials. Decant larger bottles into smaller, travel-sized ones, take those minis you’ve saved up from Christmas gift sets and subscriptions and know you can always buy something elsewhere if you do forget it.
Pack essentials last - Tickets, documents and money are the items you’ll need to access quickly and safely. By keeping them together as well as near the top, you won’t have to spend what feels like hours rooting around for them in your luggage. They’re also the items we’re most likely to forget to pack so by placing them near the top, it will be easier to check if you have them or not! You could also keep them inside a smaller, cross-body bag so you have them on your person at all times.
Hand luggage essentials
Whilst every packing list is individual, we all pack some items that are similar. You want the essentials in your hand luggage, especially if travelling abroad. If your checked luggage were to go missing, you might have to survive on your hand luggage for your trip. Here’s a handy guide to the most common essentials we often forget.
Face masks - Whilst restrictions have been lifted, overseas travel and some UK independent stores still require customers to wear a face mask. Pack some reusable masks in your luggage along with some detergent so you can wash in a hotel or apartment sink after daily use.
Hand sanitiser - We’re sure by now that you carry a tube around with you at all times anyway but you can never carry around too much. The smaller tubes will last you for an entire trip.
A spare change of clothes - It’s a good idea to store a couple of spare tops in your hand luggage if you’re taking a checked bag too. There’s nothing worse than your luggage getting lost and then having to buy outfits as soon as you arrive at your destination. If you pack a couple of spares, along with underwear and socks, at least you’ll have enough to get you through a day or two.
A jacket in a packet - Even the sunniest destinations get rain from time to time. At least with a jacket in a packet, you’re covered for showers. Of course, some destinations will require a full waterproof jacket but some cover is better than no cover. Our men’s and women’s versions take up very little space, perfect for plugging into the tiny gaps in your luggage!
A refillable water bottle and travel mug - Across the UK and around the world, there is a rise in sustainability and a small change you can make is carrying around a refillable water bottle and travel mug if you drink a lot of hot drinks. If you are going abroad, check that the tap water is drinkable in that country though!
A power bank, chargers and adapters - Check all of your technology is fully charged and you have every charger. It’s also a good idea to buy a power bank, perfect for days out so you don’t have to run around to find a charging point. For overseas travel, don’t forget your travel adapter plug for that country. An extension lead can be a good idea too if you have multiple tech items!
Travelling with a hand luggage backpack will mean less room and only room to take the bare minimum. Most items can be bought when you arrive, whether you’re travelling in the UK or abroad. Pack what you need and your back will thank you for it!