Hand luggage only? This is what you need to take


Who hasn´t experienced this: the flight was incredibly cheap – but this price only applies to travel with hand luggage and the surcharge for checked baggage is out of proportion to the flight price. In this case, it is often worth flying only with hand luggage.

Traveling with hand luggage only, this is what you need to pack

The most important thing when traveling with hand luggage is the number of permitted hand luggage items as well as their weight and dimensions. Since there are no uniform baggage regulations internationally, it is necessary to check the airline’s regulations before each flight. Precise planning is especially important if you are traveling with different airlines on the outward and return flight.

While some airlines only allow 6 kg per hand luggage, the dimensions are stricter for others, but no upper weight limit is specified. It is certainly the case that most airlines do not weigh the hand luggage extra. If you are caught with excess baggage, you will have to pay a fine. In addition to the airline, you should also keep an eye on the respective tariff option. For many airlines, the former economy class is now further divided, for example in Economy Basic, Premium or Priority. Depending on the class booked, the hand luggage guidelines may vary.

This is whats allowed in your hand luggage

It is particularly important to inform yourself about liquids in aircraft. Since 2006 there has been an EU-wide hand luggage directive that specifies precisely what liquids are used in aircraft. Every passenger is allowed to carry liquids on board in a transparent and re-closable bag with a maximum capacity of one liter in hand luggage. In the bag you can store creams, shampoo or other liquids in individual containers with a maximum content of 100 ml. In every drugstore there are small bottles of shampoos, shower gels, toothpaste etc. that are ideal for traveling with hand luggage only. Since cosmetic products can also be purchased for a small amount of money in the destination country, this free quantity should definitely be sufficient. Always make sure that the respective liquid really only in a container of max. 100 ml is stowed. For example, it is not possible to carry a half-filled container with a total volume of 200 ml. Of course, this regulation regarding liquids on the plane does not apply to shopping in the duty-free shop. Other hygiene products such as a razor, whose blades are protected, are also allowed on your hand luggage checklist.

Speaking of liquids: Surely you have already noticed that drinks bought at the airport are often much more expensive than in the city. However, you are not allowed to carry commercial 500 ml plastic bottles with you on hand only. Empty bottles, however, you can! So if you don’t want to buy overpriced drinks at the airport, you can simply put your empty bottle in the box at the security check and fill it with water after checking in the toilet. For particularly space-saving travelers, there are also special, foldable bottles that are rolled up when empty and do not take up any space.

Are you planning a purchase in the duty-free shop? Remember that, strictly speaking, this purchase cannot be added to the hand baggage allowance. This means that if you are only allowed to carry one piece of hand luggage, but duty-free shopping no longer fits in your backpack or trolley, it is actually not permitted.

 Especially when you return to Europe from a non-EU country, you should also consider the hand baggage and customs guidelines when buying souvenirs. For example, imports can be limited to fossils, corals and other plant or animal components. Therefore, you should also avoid animal foods or fruit with kernels in your hand luggage if you are coming from another country.

Checklist for hand luggage

Remember that you store all valuables and flight documents in your hand luggage. Since checked baggage occasionally gets lost or stolen, all valuables should be kept in hand baggage. A belly or chest belt has proven to be helpful for valuables and travel documents. For long-distance trips, also remember to have your vaccination card and booking documents at hand, as these may be required on arrival in the destination country.

 In addition to clothing, the following things can be helpful:

  • Toiletry bag with hygiene products
  • Mobile phone with charging cable
  • Travel documents
  • Thin blanket

If your booking does not include meals, it makes sense to take snacks with you. Create a personal checklist for hand luggage and check off items that have been packed.
Additional checklist for hand luggage on long-haul flights:

  • Neck pillow
  • Earplugs

Traveling with only hand luggage – is that even possible?

Not only for weekend trips, but also for other trips, travel without checked baggage is no problem. Prerequisite: good planning. Find out in advance whether your accommodation provides towels. This already saves a lot of space. If no towel is provided, do not pack the sauna towel, but a space-saving microfiber towel.

Many other items, which you may not even suspect, are available in compact form. Do you prefer to pack in a trolley but don’t want to do without a backpack for hiking tours or city tours? For this case there are foldable backpacks made of parachute silk that weigh less than 200 g and are extremely space-saving.

You will find that you can handle much less than you might have thought. After all, who didn’t notice when they came home that some of the items of clothing they wore weren’t even worn on vacation? Put together possible outfits at home and consider that you can also wash on vacation.

This is how to arrange your hand luggage properly

Not only the content is important, but also how your hand luggage is stowed. When traveling with hand luggage only, it is important that the laptop or tablet is easy to unpack during the security check. After all, it is very difficult to unpack half a backpack there in order to get electronic devices.

Some travel experts also swear by rolling clothes instead of folding them, because it saves space. Still not enough space? In that case, the purchase of a vacuum bag could be worthwhile for you. Clothes are simply placed in the bag and the air is extracted with a vacuum cleaner.

It also makes sense to wear heavy or thick clothes or to hold jackets in your arms. So you don’t waste space in your luggage. Hiking shoes or boots should also be worn during the travel.

Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash

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