Travel Hacks

How to pack hand luggage for success in 2023!

The holiday season is coming up and airports are more crowded than ever. Many people do not know how to pack their hand luggage sufficiently – and therefore struggle on the airport. I would love to share my useful tips for you on how to pack your hand luggage most efficiently and practically. Having everything necessary at hand is key to having a relaxed journey.

Here are my top 10 tips to maximize your in-flight enjoyment and minimize your pre-flight stress. Follow this easy hand luggage packing guide for your next journey and I guarantee you a great experience! Bonus tip: join a frequent flyer program and enjoy even more perks on your trip!

Flatlay of a sunhat, sunglasses, passport and camera

1. Check hand luggage regulations

Check with your airline what kind of hand luggage regulations they have. Usually, you get to bring a small trolley and an additional camera bag/handbag (careful with cheaper airlines, their hand luggage guidelines are way stricter). Checking in advance may prevail you from having to check the bag last minute at the airport.

Exactly how to pack your hand luggage depends greatly on the airline and how much they actually allow you to bring. KLM, for example, is way more liberal with their hand luggage allowance than Ryanair!

2. Prepare necessary documents

With Europe’s airports currently being a complete disaster, it’s now more important than ever to have your documents ready quickly. Try packing them separately from all your other stuff in your bag so you can easily have them at hand whenever needed. This includes your boarding pass, passport, and Covid-Tests or Passenger Locator Forms. If you are using a digital boarding pass I can strongly recommend keeping your phone in your pockets until seated on the airplane.

3. Water!

In an average 10-hour flight you lose about 2.0 liters of body water since the humidity levels on an airplane vary between 10 – 15 %. It is therefore recommended to drink an additional 0.25 ml per flight hour. Make sure to buy yourself an extra bottle of water after you passed the security line since not all airlines keep you fully refreshed throughout the flight.

If you love a glass of wine with your meal in the air, keep in mind that alcohol can dehydrate you even more. This also applies to coffee. Drink an extra cup of water for every glass of wine or coffee you drink on board!

4. Bring eye drops and lip balm!

For the same reason as bringing an extra bottle of water, I recommend bringing lubricating eye drops and lip balm if you had problems with quickly feeling dehydrated in the past. If you had asked me three years ago on how to pack my hand luggage, I might have not mentioned this. But especially when flying more often, this tips is such a game changer.

5. Travel pharmacy must always be in hand luggage!

The most important thing to bring in your hand luggage is without doubt a small travel pharmacy. There is nothing worse than getting random pain and being confined to an airplane with 10 more hours to go (believe me, I talk from experience). Especially when you are a bit sniffy, your sinuses can easily be blocked, which can lead to terrible nose and ear pain.

I recommend always bringing a nose spray as well as some pain medication on the plane. This also goes for any other medicine you might need at your destination regularly. Do not ever leave important things in your checked baggage, the chances of the baggage not arriving (in time) are sadly quite high at the moment.

6. Valuables

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when asking yourself on how to pack hand luggage. Valuables should always be carried in hand luggage. By this, I mean cash, credit cards, electronics as well as jewelry. Things that you can not live without or valuables should always travel with you in the cabin!

7. Entertainment

Bring some Entertainment! Even long flights can pass by quickly and comfortably with the right kind of entertainment. I am talking books, IPads, magazines, or even work – you name it! Bring extra earphones, ideally with noise cancellation (you will thank me later).

This is especially important for people afraid of flying. When you are nicely busy during the entire flight, you might not get too anxious in the air. This is so important to realize when you think about how to pack your hand luggage.

8. Sleep necessities

Time to go to sleep! The ways of how to pack your hand luggage will strongly depend on how long your flight will be. Especially for red eyes I suggest a different packing guideline.

On long-haul flights, I strongly recommend bringing your pajama party equipment, such as toiletries, a pillow, and earplugs. Some airlines have you covered there, but if you are in doubt – pack anything you might need for a blissful nap.

The temperature in most airplanes is kept quite cool, therefore I always recommend bringing a pair of extra socks, a sweater, and a scarf.

9. Bring a pen!

Lastly, bring a pen! Surprised why you would find a pen in a “how to pack your hand luggage guide?”

Ever since the pandemic, it has become quite common for airlines to pass out some sort of passenger form you have to fill out during the flight. Sadly they don’t provide you with a pen. If you don’t want to borrow a stranger’s pen (which defeats the entire purpose of the Covid-measures) I suggest always having a pen on hand.

I hope this answers your question on how to pack your hand luggage for success in 2023.

Designer bag and airplane, hand luggage packing guide