Words by Georgia Brisco
(Pro tip: tag us and tell us about your next Hand-Luggage-Only Story on Instagram for the chance to win your favourite bikini!)
We know. The idea of only packing a carry-on bag or case is daunting AF. And we know – your favourite boots will take up half the space by themselves and it’s just impossible. Bear with us, and we promise that by the end of this, hand-luggage-only travels won’t only seem doable, but also filled to the (carry-on-sized) brim with advantages.
Travelling with only a hand luggage bag makes sense in a lot of obvious ways: you get to avoid the baggage carousel – which, at the best of times, feels like an existential event – and you’ll have less stuff to lug around (think hopping on a Vespa in Southern Italy without a second thought). But that might not convince you (and we get it – your curling wand and knee-high boots are all Entirely Necessary), so let’s think about this.
The recurrent frustration of looking for that one piece of clothing you’re absolutely sure you packed has plagued us all on trips away. One minute you’re oh-so-carefully ruffling through your suitcase, trying not to mess up your packing mastery; the next, you’re surrounded by a pile of clothes that you don’t remember flinging about in your hunt for that one damn crop top you definitely packed.
Let’s be frank, the thing about full-sized suitcases is that they’re awkward. They’re heavy, even if they’ve got the full four-wheel vibe going on (trust us, we’ve been there: 11 pm, walking the two miles to our Airbnb in frosty Berlin that seemed oh-so-easy when we were planning our trip). Travelling with only a carry-on will nudge you towards experiencing thing more fully – it’s sort of inevitable when you’re not trying to drag a wheelie suitcase over slippery, iced snow. (And then failing to do so elegantly and falling on your bum. Not that we’re talking from experience or anything; this is all strictly hypothetical).
Travelling hand-luggage-only means you’ll experience everything more fully, because having less stuff oftentimes leads to unexpected adventures. Think buying your summer holiday dress while you’re actually on holiday, at the local market place. This beats that frantic holiday-shop-before-the-holiday nightmare, which usually leads to quick buys we’ll more than likely never wear again (and fast fashion is just not our vibe). That dress we bought in Mozambique last summer? It’s as memory-filled as our polaroids, a classic piece as well as a memento of sun-dappled market exploring. (Also, the lady who sold it to us pointed us in the direction of the best local cuisine that our touristy-selves would never have found on our own. Win.)
Aside from the magical practical side of things that comes with hand-luggage-only packing, there’s also the eco-friendly aspect most of us haven’t considered. Here’s the thing: for every 15kg of weight, an aeroplane uses about 0.5kg of extra fuel an hour. This might not seem too substantial, but if everyone travelled slightly lighter, the impact would be pretty amazing – we’ve done the maths (and us, doing maths? That’s how you know we really love you). If 300 people packed 15kg lighter on a five-hour flight, the plane would use 750kg less fuel.
But okay, enough with the convincing and numbers. How? We’ve got some game-changing tips below on packing hand-luggage-only.
The cool thing about packing hand-luggage-only is that you’ll know exactly what you packed. The key is to Keep it Simple. Think about what you really, really need. Plan one or two versatile outfits in advance by including adaptable statement pieces like our Amelie Bikini Top, that’ll take you from sand to soirée effortlessly. Also, opting for fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily changed our world – you can roll your linen t-shirt into a snug corner of your bag and pull it out to wear later without looking a little dried-prune-like. Also, get comfortable with wearing the same thing more than once – it totally works, especially if you pack a couple of accessories to change things up.
And if you’re going to be travelling-travelling – i.e. lots of walking and perhaps roughing it up slightly – a pair of good walking shoes are the most important thing. We repeat: The Most Important Thing. Find a pair that you can double up and wear to brunch, too, and you’re golden.
Trial and Error
Packing this way is a whole new world and it takes some practice. And that’s part of the fun. Try it out on a weekend away trip to someplace you know you’ll be able to get anything you may have forgotten. Practice packing your stuff into a smaller bag than you plan on taking so that you have some wriggle-room, and also practice lifting your bag over your head, à le overheard compartment, to make sure it’s not too heavy.
Get it When You Get There:
Doing a little research about what’s available at your destination is a win because you’ll save time and space – especially when it comes to those tiny, complimentary toiletries a lot of accommodation offers. You might also just be able to purchase the Particular Thing when you get there!
So, we’re pretty much sold on this, but if you’re still a little hesitant about hand-luggage-only packing, think about how aesthetically pleasing your flat-lay photo will be. Try it – for the planet, your Vespa rides, and adventures less known.
PS Don’t forget to tag us and tell us about your next Hand-Luggage-Only Story on Instagram for the chance to win your favourite bikini. We told you it was worth it.