Travelling with only hand luggage: packing a cabin suitcase for air travel.

Tips on how to travel with only hand luggage

Flying with only hand luggage can help you to save time and money. Hand luggage is a great choice for mini breaks or for last-minute holiday deals. Travelling with just a carry-on is a great way to travel light and to only pack the things you will really need for your holiday. In this article you can find out more about travelling with just hand luggage. In addition, we will also take a look at what is the maximum size and weight of hand luggage, what is permitted in your hand luggage and how to pack effectively when you are only travelling with a carry-on.

Hand luggage size and weight

In general there are no set rules when it comes to size and weight of hand luggage. The individual specifications vary depending on the airline, flight and the destination you have booked. Therefore, it is recommended to have a look at the regulations regarding hand luggage before booking a flight.

However, most airlines have the following regulations for hand luggage dimensions:

  • Length: max. 55 cm

  • Width: max. 40 cm

  • Depth: max. 23 cm

Tip: Some airlines allow you to take a small backpack or handbag in addition to your hand luggage. Make sure to find out about your options in advance as this will give you even more storage space and you can store personal documents, medication or electronics in your extra bag.


Keep in mind that when measuring your hand luggage, you must also take into account the wheels, handles and outer pockets of your cabin suitcase. This will help you avoid potential problems or extra fees at the airport.

The maximum weight of hand luggage can also vary from airline to airline. The weight limit is generally between eight and 10 kilograms. It is best to weigh your suitcase with a luggage scale before setting off to the airport. Unlike bathroom scales, these type of scales are more accurate and they can be conveniently stowed away in your hand luggage.

Travelling with only hand luggage: travelling light can help you to have a stress free holiday.

What can you put in your hand luggage?

It is important to check any hand luggage regulations that could apply before packing your cabin suitcase. These can vary from country to country and it is, therefore, essential to find out in advance which regulations apply to travelling with hand luggage.

If you are flying from an airport within the EU, you can take the following items listed below with you in your hand luggage:

Personal possessions/documents:

  • Passport

  • ID card

  • Flight ticket

  • Wallet or purse

  • Set of keys

  • Jewellery

Electronic devices such as:

  • Laptop

  • Smartphone

  • Camera

  • Powerbank

  • Electric toothbrush


In general, there are no restrictions on how many electronic devices you can take with you in your hand luggage. However, keep in mind that you will usually have to remove all electronic devices from your hand luggage and have them x-rayed at security at the airport. Therefore, it is a good idea to only pack the electronic devices that you will really need.


You can carry most toiletries with you in your hand luggage with the exception that liquids, aerosols, gels and pastes must be put into small bottles or containers that can hold up to a maximum of 100 millilitres. They should also then be packed into a transparent bag. It is also important to remember that your toiletries may not exceed the total amount of one litre per passenger.

This rule applies to some of the following items listed below:

  • Deodorant

  • Moisturiser

  • Perfume

  • Shaving foam

  • Tooth paste

  • Hair gel

  • Drinks

Tip: If you are looking for an alternative to liquids you can get lots of toiletries in a solid form. For example, you could get a bar of soap, shampoo and conditioner or a deodorant stick. When it comes to make-up you could opt for powder products. This is a clever way to save on liquids.

What is allowed in hand luggage: a woman packing her medication into her wash bag.


Remember to pack a first-aid kit in your suitcase. Generally, you are allowed to carry medication in both solid and liquid form in your hand luggage. In your hand luggage you can only take medication for your own use and only for the duration of your holiday.If you have been prescribed medication you should always have a prescription or a medical certificate with you as proof stating that you need it.

Important: You will need a medical certificate if you need to take a syringe with you on holiday for health reasons. This is because syringes are classified as sharp objects and weapons and are therefore subject to particularly strict checks.

Other permitted items in hand luggage:

  • Clothes

  • Empty reusable water bottles

  • Books

  • Travel neck pillow

  • Baby food


Baby food is exempt from the strict rules regarding hand luggage. This means you can also take liquids with a content of more than 100 ml, such as jars of baby food or baby formula. However, make sure to only take enough baby food for the duration of your holiday.

Hand luggage restrictions

Any items that could be potentially used as weapons are not allowed in hand luggage. These include some of the following items listed below:

  • Sharp objects, for example, nail files, knitting needles (if longer than six centimetres)

  • Weapons also including toy weapons

  • Tools, for example, pliers or spanners

  • Sports equipment, for example, walking poles or badminton rackets

  • Gas cylinders, for example, a camping stove or petrol lighter

  • Flammable substances, for example, cleaning products

You should contact the airline if you are not sure whether you can put a certain item in your hand luggage.

Shop basics for your next holiday with just hand luggage:

Tips on how to pack effectively

It is a good idea to not take too much with you, if you are going on holiday with just hand luggage.

Step 1: draw up a list

The first step is to draw up a list of everything you will need for your holiday. For example, pack only enough clothes to last you a week. In most holiday apartments and hotels you can have your laundry washed or you can also wash it by hand. Drawing up a list will help you to only pack the things you will really need.

Travelling with only hand luggage: casual and practical clothing basics for a minimalist holiday.

Step 2: choose the right clothes

It is a good idea to choose clothes that you can easily combine with anything to make a stylish outfit. A capsule wardrobe is a good idea if you are going on holiday with just hand luggage, but you still want to have a selection of stylish outfits. Ideally, you should go for basics because they are versatile and it is easy to create a stylish look with them.

Tip: It's a good idea to wear any thick or bulky items of clothing during the journey. For example, your warmest jumper, a jacket and your bulkiest shoes. By doing so you won’t feel cold during the journey and you can save space in your hand luggage.

Step 3: packing effectively

The art of packing:

  • Roll up your clothes instead of folding them. This will save space in your suitcase and helps to stop your clothes from becoming creased.

  • Use the inside of shoes, hats or handbags as storage space for underwear and socks.

  • Use packing cubes as they will help you to keep your suitcase tidy, which will come in handy when you have to go through security at the airport. You can also get a waterproof set and this will help to protect your clothes from getting ruined if anything leaks in your suitcase.

You can find more information and helpful tips on how to pack for your holiday in the following article: ‘’How to pack a suitcase like an expert“.

Conclusion: how to travel stress free with just hand luggage

Going on holiday with just hand luggage requires good planning and knowledge of any restrictions and safety regulations. Make sure to find out in advance the maximum weight and size your hand luggage can be. You can use this as a guide when packing and choosing clothes for your holiday. It is a good idea to choose versatile clothes and to wear the warmest or bulkiest items of clothing during the flight. By doing so, you will have no problem jetting off with just hand luggage!

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(Last accessed on 24/05/2023)

(Last accessed on 24/05/2023)

(Last accessed on 24/05/2023)

(Last accessed on 24/05/2023)

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