I’ve harped on enough on here about how much I love budget travel which usually involves only bringing a carry-on cabin suitcase. Thrifty? Yes. A little bit tight for space? Also yes. But I feel I’ve recently locked down my travel essentials which make packing a lot easier, and lighter! I’ve listed below the essentials I bring with me on my travels, I hope it helps anyone reading this if you’re thinking on how to save valuable suitcase space – how else are you going to fit that sombrero in on the way home after all?!
Firstly – Most airlines will let you bring on a cabin bag and a small handbag (although some have varying ideas on what constitutes small). However, if your airline suddenly get’s particularly picky about how many bags you have with you, they do allow a duty free bag in addition to your cabin case. I’m not suggesting you go crazy in Duty Free and snap up all the latest perfumes (although I’m not discouraging it), however even if you just buy a bottle of water in Duty Free and ask the staff – politely – to give you a larger carrier bag, they’ll usually oblige. That way, when you get to the check in gate you can pop the extra handbag in there, and voila! – sorted.
Another thing I’ve started doing is bringing a small, cotton reusable bag (I have 4 freebie bags from Glastonbury and have banned myself from buying any more…) which work really well for just chucking in the essentials – magazine, passport, any books you fancy reading. And so, once again, if you’re stopped by staff and asked to only bring on one bag, just remove the items, fold up said bag – they scrunch up small – and you can just bring on the extra bits in your hands until you’re settled in your seat and can use the little back-of-the-chair basket to hold your essentials.
Now I’ve gone through those steps, now let’s see what I’ll be packing:
Camera – This a is a no-brainer for me really as I’m really getting into travel photography – and if anyone wants to check out the pics my Instagram is here. I have the Olympus Pen E-PL7, which is perfect for me as I’m not the most experienced photographer, but it’s not hard to get a great pic with this camera. It has Wi-Fi included, which means your latest shots can be uploaded to your phone and onto whatever editing apps/social media you wish, in a blink of an eye. I bought it almost two years ago, and can see such a huge difference in the quality of photos I can get from it, so I’d say it’s a definite holiday staple every time.
Kindle – Even though there really is something great about reading a proper book (the smell? Just me? Okay…) I do have a kindle, and it is a godsend for when you go on holiday. All the room it saves on the books you were going to pack do make a difference, and often the cost of a kindle book is cheaper, so you can get more in for your money. I have the Paperwhite version and it’s great for not having that awful sun-glare effect, so you can read to your hearts content whilst laying out in the sun. I also have this case from Amazon, which is great for keeping it safe and away from the sand.
iPad Pro – I promise this post isn’t just a #humblebrag about the electronic items I own – promise. But I recently purchased the 9.7 iPad pro (discontinued on Apple, but available from service providers), and even I was a bit skeptical about why I really needed it. I gave myself a week grace period to decide how much I would use it, and the answer was a lot. It’s the perfect balance of an iPad and a laptop – especially the split screen option which allows me to get ‘work’ done whilst keeping one eye on a YouTube video to semi-procrastinate. I’ve downloaded apps which I’ve found to come in handy when doing the creative aspects of the blog, and even though I haven’t bought the Apple Pencil (ringing in at a bargain £99 *please detect the sarcasm here*) I received a little knock-off version with my beautiful knock-off case from Amazon, and that works a treat. I’m no graphic designer, so this really helps with the basic elements that I want. It’s great to travel with, and as I purchased it from EE I have a data allowance to use each month – even abroad, which helps keep me entertained and up to date whilst I’m on my travels.
Toiletries – This is often the hardest thing when packing for a hand-luggage only holiday, but I’ve kept it down to a few essentials. Firstly, buy your sun cream at the airport once you’re past security. It’s often on offer, and you can get a full size option – which is always a necessity (you can also use this as a chance to get your duty free bag as mentioned earlier). Also, I have long, thick and very dry hair so I tend to buy my shampoo and conditioner in a larger size, as I have to wash my hair a lot more on holiday to accommodate the sea & sand frizz.
As for makeup and skincare – thanks to the goddess that is Caroline Hirons, I have recently started really taking care of my skin and sticking to a skincare routine. This is sometimes hard to accommodate when packing under 100ml, but I would say – if you’ve ever received a smaller sample of a product, whether as a freebie with a purchase, or in a Birchbox, this is the best time to use them. Don’t forget to pack in the flannel as well, as there’s nothing better than scrubbing all the sand and sun cream off after a day at the beach, and your skin will thank you for it.
Clothes – Okay so now to the important bit. Packing clothes AND shoes into a hand luggage is when it starts to get tricky, and the longer you’re away obviously the more you’re likely to bring. But the first thing to think about packing is will I actually wear this? It’s a question you have to ask, because even though the option for choice is always the best, it’s something you can’t spare when packing light. I have only recently started the habit of properly planning out my outfits before I go, and seeing which items can be mixed with others to help optimise space.
Depending on the climate brings other issues, but let’s use the example of a beach holiday. I always bring my trusty Birkenstocks – now in their 4th year and still going strong – and a pair of flip flops. These can be squidged into the suitcase pretty easily, and with the Birkenstocks I tend to stuff undies/socks in the middle part to save even more space. As for swimwear, I usually stick with a rotation of two bikinis and a swimming costume (for the latter end of the holiday when the wine & cheese bloat makes you look like you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy). As for towels – usually (and hopefully, but always check) your hotel should supply hotels for the shower, but it might be wise to chuck in a light and small beach towel, not a big fluffy one.
I usually try and restrict myself from buying items for a Summer holiday, as I live in England we don’t get a lot of summer weather, so any really Summery outfits are defunct unless we get an unusual heatwave. However, I now have a little wardrobe I turn to every year for beach holidays and festivals which usually does me through. These essentials include – basic strappy tops in black, grey and white – great for mixing with anything. Denim shorts and stretchy, cotton shorts (for that food-baby-belly situ) that can also be mixed with anything. I also have two light kimono-y items for wearing when it gets slightly chilly, and a few statement dresses for the evening and going out for dinner. I tend to wear trainers for the flight to keep nice and comfy (and so they don’t take up room in the case) and they’re always handy for exploring and keeping your toes covered. And that is usually what I can fit into my tiny suitcase, believe it or not!
And I think after that mammoth post, I have everything there. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post above, and if you’re going on a holiday soon with limited luggage I hope this has helped. I’ve linked some of the items mentioned below. If you think I’ve missed anything out, please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading x