How to travel only with hand luggage and save money
On the road

How to travel only with hand luggage and save money

Most of the advice that can be given as far as packing is concerned is very logical. Few of us really give much thought to what we use of the things we bring with us. It sounds trivial, but when everything is considered it’s easy to draw a conclusion that we didn’t need the extra 23 kilos of luggage on low cost. Not to mention the lack of relief when you get on or off the airport without having to haul the baggage and endure additional check-ins.

It’s absolutely possible to put everything in just 8 kg. Hand luggage makes you more mobile, so city hopping or frequent change of accommodation are a lot easier when you can put everything you have on your shoulders in just a few seconds. This is how we pack and we never miss anything.


Clothes and footwear in hand luggage

The 4-3-2-1 rule. This is the method we adhere to when packing our stuff. What does it mean? It means that when you choose everything you are planning to bring, you can put more than half of it back in the closet because you DON’T need it! It’s enough to bring 4 T-shirts, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 2 shorts (one of which are bathing trunks) and 1 pair of jeans.

carry-on bag

If you can, bring as many things as you can made from merino wool, because this material dries very fast, requires no ironing and doesn’t get smelly easily. The same goes for silk.

If the weather is cold, base layers are a better option. They’re thin, light and warm and they’re a good alternative for bulky items of clothing such as sweaters.

There are many ways to look normal on your trip and not like some tramp, despite the fact that you’ve brought just a few things. The first is to bring washing powder. If you don’t feel like washing the clothes yourself, you can have them washed and ironed, 99% of accommodation provides this kind of service. If the washing powder is not appropriate for your journey, you shouldn’t worry because there are soaps for washing clothes.

The second thing you should do is pay attention to colors. You should bring clothes that are easily combined. That way, even if you bring 5 items of clothing, you can make 10 different combinations.

You should also bring things with a multiple purpose. Ladies can bring a scarf or a sash that can also serve as a dress for the beach or even a blanket. As far as men are concerned, it can be trunks which can be worn during the day as shorts.

carry-on bag

As far as footwear is concerned, you cannot beat some people’s obsession to take their whole shoe cabinet on the road, even if it means using DHL. Whatever suits your needs! All we need are 2 pairs of shoes: trainers (usually something light, such as Converse sneakers or ballet flats) and flip-flops or slippers. Considering the fact that we’ll be wearing the bulky pair on our feet while travelling, 2 pairs of shoes in the bag is all we need no matter whether our trip lasts 5 or 25 days.

We’ll probably have an excellent answer in the near future on how to bring a lot of trainers and shoes that don’t weigh so much or take up a lot of space.

carry-on bag
photo by ACBC and Indiegogo

You can find young entrepreneurs on Kickstarter who are raising funds in order to start mass production of modular footwear named Shooz. One sole with 10 different extensions. Very light and convenient for travel.


Cosmetics and medication in hand luggage

We never go on a trip without it. We suggest that you do the same. Always take travel health insurance. That way you can cut down the list of medications to the most necessary ones. Don’t pay heed if insurance companies tell you that you have to call and ask which doctor you are allowed to visit. The insurer is obliged by law to provide compensation in any case. Your insurance will not cover it only if you choose a herbalist or a shaman. If you buy an insurance policy, you have the right to see the doctor even when it comes to some trivial things such as nausea or headache. This way you can also refund all the expenses for the purchased medications.

The more important part when it comes to the size of the health kit is the ‘just in case’ way of thinking which people cannot get rid of. Also, some people simply can’t bother about such things. What’s the point of it all if I can take a medication myself, bandage a cut or disinfect a wound? Well, what’s the point then of purchasing travel insurance? The only rule you should stick to when it comes to medications is that you should carry them without the packaging in order to save space. Luckily, they’re light and compact.

carry-on bag

On the other hand, cosmetics and hygiene products might cause a problem because of large packaging. That cannot pass airport security. Fortunately, in 99% of cases the rules are harmonized because of international traffic and there is a 100 ml rule when it comes to liquids. Cosmetics for babies are a great choice, because it is already in small packaging, it’s hypoallergenic and suitable for everyone. So, all liquids should be in 100 ml containers. Put it all in a zipper bag and you’re ready to get on the plane. You can find detailed instructions here.

We want to share a piece of amazing and shocking information with you that will definitely lighten your luggage. This is something you must have seen yourself, but you simply refuse to process this piece of info. Just like washing the laundry, hygiene products are part of the inventory in almost every accommodation. You don’t need soap and shampoo. They’re complimentary. Why should you bother to bring any of these? It is certainly wise to inquire what is available for you. Just for the record, basic hygiene products are cheap to buy no matter where you go.


Cameras and gadgets in hand luggage

If you’re not a professional photographer, the only thing you need is a good mobile phone. It fits in your pocket and doesn’t take up any space in your luggage. You can find very convenient cell phone equipment on various sites such as aliexpress which can enhance the quality of pics and videos. Wind muffler which reduces the noise of the wind, Bluetooth self-stick which is also a tripod etc. Personally, this is our weak point.

carry-on bag

These are the gadgets with best cameras in 2017: Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, HTC 10, Huawei P9, LG G5, Motorola Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Sony Xperia XZ.

Techradar believes that phones have never been closer to DSLRs. You can find a detailed comparison here.


How the others pack

Does all this sound crazy and unnecessary to you? If luggage was never a problem for you, then you might have wasted your time reading this. However, these tricks do the job and many nomads who have been travelling like this for years can corroborate that.

“Pack concentrated laundry detergent and quick-drying, synthetic clothing and wash everything while you travel. This one tip has allowed me to travel for months just about anywhere with little more than 2 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and 3-4 pairs of underwear.” – Mike Richard, Vagabondish

“Go through your packing list or lay out everything you plan to take on your bed or the floor. With every item, ask yourself why you’re taking it. If you start with the words ‘what if,’ or you only plan to use it once during an extended trip, it may not be a necessity.” – Frank Brown, 1 Bag 1 World

“I always pack the sarong I bought in Thailand. Not only is it a beach cover-up, but it can also serve as a tablecloth, picnic blanket, makeshift satchel (hobo style), pillow, head scarf for bad hair days, shawl, changing room screen, privacy curtain for a bunk bed…the list goes on.” – Katie Coakley, Travel Writer

You might have deduced from the photos in this post that we weighed every part of the luggage. We reached 5.1 kilos including the backpack. There is plenty more space to reach the allowed 7-8 kilos. Basically, we can double the clothes and bring more shoes, cosmetics etc. In order to achieve this, there are some rules that we have to stick to. One of them is to put things in the shoes and roll things up using rubber bands whenever possible. By overlapping multiple items you can save space and prevent your clothes from becoming wrinkled. This video will make it all crystal clear.


A few things you should also consider:

  • Use a backpack, rather than a regular suitcase. This way you can save almost 1.5 kg.
  • Feel free to exaggerate a bit. Based on personal experience, we can say that you won’t be held up if your hand luggage has 9 instead of 8 kilos (some companies allow 7 kilos).
  • Inquire about what is not allowed on the plane. Stick to the 100 ml rule when it comes to liquids.
  • Penknives and scissors whose blade is not longer than 6 cm are allowed on the plane.
  • You should carry liquids in a double zipper bag to avoid spilling or you can even take them with yourself in your laptop bag. Anyway, you have to hand them in when you pass the scan at the airport.
  • On long-haul international flights (Turkish, Emirates, Etihad…) you will get a toiletry bag with earplugs, a toothbrush, a toothpaste, wet towels etc. Use that!

So many things can fit in your hand luggage and passengers are even allowed to take a laptop bag, which provides enough space for passports, chargers, cables and other small items.

There you have it! We’ve finally packed our bags. How would it make you feel if we told you that you don’t need a third of your hand luggage? 🙂