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Travelling with hand luggage not only allows you to avoid baggage fees on short-haul flights, but it also forces you to travel lightly. Believe it or not, you could easily survive on just hand luggage for a week’s holiday – or possibly even longer. Here are seven top tips for smart, efficient packing.

  1. Stick to two pairs of shoes

Most of us know that a weekend away rarely calls for more than one or two pairs of shoes, but that doesn’t stop us packing four or five – just in case. Your chosen footwear will depend on where you’re going, but try to avoid falling into the trap of taking every type of footwear imaginable. You’re unlikely to need stilettos for a beach holiday or flip-flops for a business trip.

If you’re going on an active holiday, take hiking boots or trainers and one pair of shoes for the evening. If you’re heading somewhere hot, take two pairs of sandals – one for day, and one for night.

  1. Don’t take too many toiletries

Hotels usually have everything you’ll need to stay squeaky clean, including soap, shampoo, conditioner and towels. Most places will provide a hair dryer, and sometimes there’ll even be straighteners. These are the items that often take up the most room in our luggage, so check out your hotel or apartment website first.

If you do need to take toiletries, make them travel-sized – under 100 ml each. The most economical, and environmentally friendly, way to pack toiletries for flights is to buy small bottles from a pharmacy or supermarket, and fill them with your products whenever you go away. And avoid buying things at the airport if you can, as they’ll be more expensive.

  1. Choose versatile clothing

If you need several different outfits, try to pack separates that can be mixed and matched. Look at the colours and avoid clashing shades. Ladies, if you can find one or two bras that match everything – multi-way bras are great for this – that’ll save some room in your suitcase.

This also applies to accessories. Pack a neutral belt that matches most of your wardrobe and choose jewellery that you can wear with everything.

  1. Be decisive

The reason most of us over-pack is because we can’t decide what we’re going to wear in advance. For lots of people, it’s hard enough to decide on the day, never mind plan ahead. But lightweight packing requires an element of decisiveness. Pick what you want to wear, then stick to it. This is particularly true when travelling for big events, such as a wedding.

Remember that if the worst comes to worst, you can pick something up on holiday. So don’t stress about packing absolutely everything in your hand luggage.

  1. Roll for more space

Aside from what you pack, there’s also a trick to the actual packing itself. Rolling your clothes avoids creases and makes the most of space.

Start with the bulkiest items and then slot in the more lightweight clothes around these. Lastly, use underwear to stop up the gaps and put socks inside your (one pair of) shoes.

  1. Layer up for travelling

Wear your heaviest shoes and a coat or sweatshirt for travelling, so you won’t have to pack these bulky items in your hand luggage. You’ll often need layers on a flight anyway, as it can get chilly in the air. Flying far away? Check out what’s best to wear on a long haul flight.

  1. Check the hand luggage regulations

If you’re travelling with just hand luggage, it’s crucial to check the baggage policies on size and weight. Some airlines allow a handbag and a suitcase, while others restrict passengers to just one piece of luggage. The common maximum size of hand luggage is 56 cm in length, 45 cm in width and 25 cm in depth.

Also make sure your hand luggage meets security criteria. If you’re not sure about a certain item, check the regulations about what you can pack in your hand luggage.

While you’re here, check out the things you should do before going on holiday.

If you haven’t got a trip booked already, search for cheap flights now.