Pack Mentality: Travels with Hand Luggage Only

Pack Mentality: Travels with Hand Luggage Only

I find a quiet joy in the simple art of packing. For most of my trips, I endeavour to keep to hand luggage only. This helps in quite a few ways. At the airport it means not having to check in bags, so you can rush into the plane if needed. Shorter security process. And for most of the budget airlines I’m booking I save quite a bit not having to pay for the luggage. Having only a backpack removes the whole drama of storing luggage too. So here’s my packing list and some tips for keeping your luggage load light.

The important stuff

  • Passport – make sure there’s always six months left just in case
  • BRP (if you’re not a UK or EU citizen like me!)
  • Public transport/ transfers – sometimes I have this organised beforehand. For Prague this was purchasing the pass online and for Japan it’s ordering the JR pass which gets mailed to you.
  • Local currency / Coin purse
  • Wallet with credit cards
  • Reusable drink bottle
  • Medications
  • Insurance cards

Phone things

  • Phone and charger
  • Powerbank – can’t leave without this on my Samsung S7. I barely last half a day whilst traveling
  • Power adaptor + converter
  • Boarding passes (Ryanair makes you print them sometimes, annoying!). Otherwise I try to keep screenshots of everything on my phone
  • Maps or have them downloaded on your phone

Photo stuff

  • Camera
  • Lens
  • Tripod
  • Spare batteries
  • Lens wipe
  • Memory card
  • Selfie stick

Things you wear

Sometimes I pack less of the below if I know I’m going to be shopping.

  • Clothes
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Umbrella, rain jacket or poncho
  • Hat or sunscreen


  • Travel towel – I use a quick-drying microfibre one myself, most hostels in Europe will charge you for borrowing one
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste/ tooth floss
  • Hair products (or a hat!)
  • Soap/ shampoo – some places will provide it for you, but best not to assume anything! Make sure to store it in clear bottles and under 100ml. I keep mine packing in a clear bag all ready for the airport check
  • Razor/ shaver – check what’s allowed on flights, anything enclosed is all good
  • Tissues
  • Insect repellant
  • Earplugs (I bring extra in case the problem snorer is me!)
  • Brush/ comb
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturiser/ makeup/ chapstick

The fun stuff

  • Gym clothes
  • Sneakers
  • Music on your phone or iPod and headphones
  • Book or Kindle
  • Nintendo Switch or other activity (what a luxury, eh)
  • Pens and notepad
  • Gum or snacks
  • Travel pillow

So that’s my short list of the things I limit myself to pack on each journey. The main thing with the packing ist is to make sure everything in the first section is covered, anything else you can always pick up in any major city easily. But keeping a well organised bag will mean easy and cheap travels.