How to Pack for a Beach Holday with only Hand Luggage

Guys, I don’t want to blow my own horn here, but if there’s one thing I believe I truly excel at, it’s packing a week’s worth of clothes into a hand luggage sized suitcase. If there’s one thing that goes hand-in-hand with budget holidays, it’s getting all your holiday belongings into a carry-on, and if you’re attempting it this Summer then I have some tips to help!

Bringing hand luggage on a beach holiday isn’t for everyone, and I completely understand – for a beach holiday you’ve got your beach towels, your inflatables, your cover-ups and then your evening wear. But I have a pretty shocking revelation here: You really don’t need to bring that much.


Look, I’m a girl with a pretty big wardrobe, and every time a new holiday rolls around I want to pack it all in to bring with me, but the reality is when I do this I always gravitate towards my favourites and everything else I packed as a ‘just in case’ stays crumpled at the bottom of my suitcase.

Therefore throughout the years I’ve discovered how to condense all of my holiday essentials into a carry-on suitcase, and I have

Don’t pack a towel

To be fair this does depend on what your hotel provides, but even if you’re at the most budget hotel possible, or even an Airbnb, it’s likely you’ve been provided with towels. These are the main offenders for taking up the most room in a suitcase and taking them out of the equation opens you up to a lot more space.

If you’re uncomfortable using the hotels’ towels for the beach, then it’s also worth picking a beach towel up when you’re there. Why spend stupid money back home on a beach towel when you can wait until you’re out there and it’ll only be 5 euros for a beach towel – and you get a souvenir at the same time!

Don’t over do the shoes

As a big shoe-hoarder myself, this might sound like an annoying thing to say but if you’re planning on a sunny beach break you really don’t need that many shoes! Flip flops, sandals and maybe a pair of comfy trainers for the airport (which therefore don’t need to be packed) and you’re sorted! The great thing about them is they’re so light and small they barely take up any room in your suitcase.


Don’t even bother with liquids

When I’m on a beach holiday there are two essentials I need with me – sun cream because helllloooo I turn into a lobster otherwise. And my shampoo and conditioner – because my thick, frizzy hair can’t handle one day of chlorine or ocean water before it turns to hay. Whilst I absolutely need to bring these both with me on holiday, I certainly don’t need to pack them in my hand luggage, as 100ml of either won’t get me very far.

Therefore I’d advise to not bother packing in the liquids like these – even if you don’t burn like me. It’s always worth waiting until the airport, once you’re through security and then picking up your essentials there. There’s always discounts and promotions on the Boots at an airport, and it’s always worth having a full size when you’re on holiday.

For the other liquids I use – like my makeup and skincare, I am a huge fan of hoarding all my old samples. I have quite a lot of miniatures for my normal Liz Earle skincare, and keep them stored up throughout the year so I can use them when I go abroad.

The Essentials

Now we’ve ruled out what’s pointless to bring with you – it’s time to outline the essentials. Now, I don’t know exactly what’s in your wardrobe, but below is my usual packing essentials list for a week on a sunny beach vacation:

  • 2 x Shorts: One Denim, One cotton
  • 2 x Skirts
  • 2 x Summer Dresses
  • 5 x Tops – T-shirts Camis etc A mixture for daytime and night
  • 3 x Shoes – Birkenstocks, Flip-Flops and trainers
  • 2 x Bikinis + 1 x Swimming Costume
  • 2 x Beach cover ups

Chuck in some PJs, hairbrush, phone charger and pants (essential) and you’re good to go.

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The Holy Grail

Always when travelling with only hand luggage, the best thing you can bring with you is a loose, fold-able tote bag. I personally love my Sezane tote bag as it was given to me free (!!) with another purchase, and plus it doubles up as a really nice Beach bag. It’s the best for when certain pesky (ahem) airlines won’t let you bring more than one cabin bag on board.

If this is the case, or you’re just not sure, you can bring along all your on-board items along in it, and if they turn their nose up at the sight of a roll-on suitcase and a bag, just take out your bits and carry them (passport, magazines etc) and once you’re on the plane you can unfold and refill. It’s pretty simple and no-one minds, it’s just a great way to get around the rule against two carry-on bags.

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I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it has helped some of you when packing for a holiday. Who needs hold luggage when you can save that extra £40 and spend it on your holiday! £40 worth of pina coladas? Count me in.

If you have any suggestions I might have missed please let me know in the comments, and in the meantime I’m still posting my holiday snapps on my Instagram at GrundyTravels

Thanks for reading x









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