Your hand luggage is potentially the most important bag you’ll pack before going on a trip. Don’t leave for your journey without packing these 16 essential items – you won’t want to arrive at your destination in a bad mood because you forgot something!
Hand luggage, carry-on, an annoying extra bag to hold – whatever you call it, you’ve got to plan packing it carefully!
You could just shove everything in your main backpack and hope for the best, but you’ll almost certainly need something from it mid-journey – there’s not much you can do when your bag is shuttling off to be packed up in the plane already!
Make sure that you take everything in this list (where applicable – don’t suddenly start taking random tablets because I told you to!) and pack it neatly and securely in your hand luggage. You can relax and be confident that you haven’t left anything behind on your next trip!
Hand Luggage Essentials
You might want to buy over-priced gifts on the plane, or you might not be offered any complimentary food. On super budget airlines, you might even have to pay for water! Take it in a secure wallet or money belt.
We were stung by this once before and didn’t have any cash to pay for a bottle! Only when I told the staff I might pass out did they begrudgingly hand over a small cup of tepid water. Thanks, Air Asia!
This surely is a no-brainer, but print out any documents you might need for your holibobs. Pop them in a easy to access travel document holder. Think visa documents, accommodation information, even flight confirmation.
You don’t want to be wandering around the airport trying to connect to the Wi-Fi to prove that you did actually book a ticket! Check out these different types and choose one that includes space for everything you’ll need!
If you lose your holiday suitcase, then you can go on a shopping spree and buy a whole new wardrobe. However, you’ll less likely to want to spend thousands of pounds replacing all of your technology.
Try putting everything in one of these small organisers. That way, you also know where everything is when you come to watch a film on your laptop, read a book on your Kindle or charge your phone.
Don’t forget to buy strong padlocks as well for not just your hand luggage, but your hold case too! Don’t use brightly coloured ones though; they might attract the wrong kind of attention and get you targeted by plucky thieves.
No one likes to wear sturdy shoes on an aeroplane (you know the ones, you want to wear them on the flight because they’re too heavy to pack!) but on the other hand, other people don’t want your stinky feet in their faces.
Wearing socks or even bare feet (!) is frowned upon for a reason, but consider buying a brand new pair of soft slippers if you get uncomfortable – they’ll be nicer to wear than shoes but you won’t get complaints or dirty looks! Click here for a decent selection.
If you’ve got long hair, you’ll know that the worst thing to experience is having it stuck to your face when you’re all hot and sweaty!
Although aeroplanes can be chilly, you can also get quite warm if you wrap up in a blanket and have someone to lie on next to you (whether you know them or not…).
Tie your hair up before the flight, but also buy a few spare bands for your hand luggage – those little buggers like to break at the worst possible moment so you don’t want to be caught out!
1 Day of Clothes
Have you ever experienced a delayed flight? An hour or two isn’t so bad but sometimes you can be stuck in an airport for what seems like forever.
A quick change of clothes from your hand luggage can do wonders for your mental state! Make it simple – a t shirt and leggings/light trousers and new underwear will make you feel like you’ve started a new day, not continued the old one on for weeks!
We all know that flying can dry the hell out of our skin, so pack in a tiny stick of lip balm. Moisturise your lips first, but you can also rub a small amount into your hands and even your face if you’re really desperate!
These flavoured lip balm sticks are vegan and bee-free too!
In an ideal world, I would advise against wearing any make up at all on a plane.
However, I always do because when I leave the house or hotel, I’m raring to go and excited for my next destination, and I want to look nice in all of the selfies!!
Realistically though, it will come off soon into the flight, so take some facial or even baby wipes to completely remove any foundation, concealer or ever mascara.
Your face will feel fresher for it, and you won’t even remember you’ve gone bare by the time you get off the plane!
If you don’t wear make up in the first place, still take the wipes to freshen up – not just your face but anywhere that might be getting a bit uncomfortable and sweaty!
Dry Soap Leaves
In addition to the face wipes, you should invest in some dry soap leaves.
They’re handy for airport layovers where you can have a shower but they don’t provide toiletries.
A quick spruce in the bathroom will leave you smelling less like a dirty traveller and more like an important jet-setter!
Foldable Toothbrush and Miniature Toothpaste
For some reason, cleaning your teeth can literally make you feel like a new person!
Halfway through a flight, take a break from sitting down and go and clean your teeth. You’ll be surprised about the difference it makes!
If you don’t have a Kindle or similar, speed up to modern day life and buy one!
Honestly, there’s nothing like holding a real book in your hands but when you’re travelling, you could literally never run out of things to read.
Plus, the most modern e-readers you can buy are super light and fit in almost any space in your hand luggage.
Pen and Paper/Colouring Books
You may or may not enjoy writing and drawing, but sometimes it’s nice to look away from a screen and do something productive.
Make a list of things you want to do on your trip, fill in one of these naughty adult colouring books or even start writing your own story!
You don’t even have to complete it. Just get creative and the time will fly.
Most hand luggage packing lists tell you to bring healthy, high energy, sugar-free, salt-free snacks. That’s all well and good, but the issue is that those types of foods are usually taste-free too.
By all means, chuck in a granola bar or two to keep you going if you have a long flight or transfer.
But don’t forget to take some fun snacks too – gummy sweets, crisps and even little sandwiches can add a little excitement (albeit embarrassing excitement) to your journey!
Print out some information on the country or city you’re visiting, or download them to your tablet.
You will more than likely have already planned most details of your visit, but there’s no harm in gearing up to go and experience everything!
It will also take your mind off the fact that you have to sit in a metal box for hours on end before you can actually BE there!
You should have easy access to your medication at all times. Not only that, but a small first aid kit might come in handy too.
Even if you just need a headache tablet, or a little plaster, you’ll be glad that you were smart and don’t have to dig around in your suitcase for it! Try this mini kit – it has 92 different medical supplies that will help you with the most common minor injuries until you need to get to a hospital if need be!
Don’t wait until after security to buy a bottle because in some airports, security is directly before the gate area. This means that there won’t be anywhere to buy any.
Keep hydrated throughout the whole flight – not a good idea to drink alcohol before or during the journey (do as we say, not as we do!!)
This list is not exhaustive but covers all of the important things that you should take in your hand luggage. It’s important not to over pack, so be careful with what you choose!
Check out this fantastic hostel packing list too – you can never be too organised when you’re trying to live out of a bag!
Are there any other must-have items for your hand luggage that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!