Solo travel: Hand luggage hacks

susan1962 Packing tips, Travel

Person Wearing Black Backpack
We don’t all manage to travel light

I’m the first to admit that I cannot travel light. Nope. The thought of going away, even for an overnight, with one small bag makes me shudder!

For all those hardy folk who can do that – you have my admiration. But I carry a deep pathological need to carryall but the kitchen sink. The giant bag of prescription meds and contact lens paraphernalia don’t help. But mainly it’s a touch of OCD. A fear of running out of some essential or other. Honestly I’m very nearly ready for the zombie apocalypse for just an overnight at the seaside!

For whatever reason you find your luggage is weighing you down, you don’t necessarily want to put less in the bag (although you probably should?) Here are some suggestions for lightening the load a little!

Cutting down the weight of your baggage

Blue Tape Measure and glass scales
When it comes to luggage, size DOES matter

So if you are, like me, a ninja packer – able to stuff every tiny nook and cranny of your fifteen (oh, ok, three – bad enough) bags then you need to learn how to cut the weight without adding to the worry. So here are my hand luggage hacks to help you along the way.

Hand luggage hacks

  1. Put some of your “essentials” in your pockets. This helps distribute the load more evenly and reduce the weight of hand luggage, helping you squeeze past the many restrictions airlines put in place these days. A loose fitting lightweight waterproof jacket with zipped pockets would be ideal. One site I came across even recommended buying a poacher’s jacket with myriad tiny pockets but really I don’t think that they’re particularly useful.
  2. Consider taking a small backpack. I’ve tried many variations and the best for me has a separate front pocket where I can put a zipped bag with all the essentials for the flight/journey: my Kindle, snacks, water and reading glasses.
  3. But the lightest of all is a Kipling cross body bag. Basically ultra lightweight handbags made from ripstop nylon. They’re not the most elegant of items but they are stylish, super lightweight and can be used at your destination as camera bag, picnic carrier and shopping bag. These bags aren’t the cheapest but they are very like the Tardis – much bigger on the inside than you’d ever imagine!
  4. For the lightest bag you’re looking at a holdall. Packed properly (filled to the brim to avoid air pockets and things moving) they’re ideal for weight. If you’re going somewhere for a week or two and absolutely must check in your luggage then a holdall is a good option. Choose nylon over leather and look for one with wheels if you’re likely to be carrying it any distance
  5. If, like me, carrying a bag any distance is an issue then a wheeled bag is the way to go. Not as light but definitely easier to pull behind you

My recommendation

landscape, nature, people, backpacks
A small to medium sized backpack is ideal in most situations

You know you’re already carrying a ton weight in the bag, so the bag itself should weigh as little as possible while being tough enough to survive the journey intact. As long as you choose a lightweight but tough material rather than leather the winner would have to be a backpack. The Kipling wheeled ones are great and the shoulder straps can be tucked away once they’re rolling. Again, they’re not the cheapest but you can find reasonable prices at Amazon, TK Maxx or Ebay.

Remember to:

  • Check the fastenings. These are what’s most likely to let you down. I bought a cheap backpack on holiday when my elderly original died on me. It was big enough to hold all the usual stuff but halfway down the tunnel onto the plane the fastening gave way and all the weight ended up on one shoulder. I managed but if you have any weakness in your arms or shoulders then I’d look at getting a wheeled version.
  • Choose straps that are fairly wide and have cushioning so that they can be comfortably carried for as long as needed.
  • Every pocket should serve a useful function. There’s no point having tiny pockets that won’t hold anything, or pockets that are too narrow to reach into.
  • See if it’s showerproof
  • What are the reviews like?

So my ideal hand luggage is a Kipling or a Fjallraven backpack. Both are ultra lightweight and fairly funky. What’s your ideal?


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