With sky high prices for hold luggage and a move amongst budget airlines towards smaller 'free' hand luggage allowances, packing has never been more important - especially for cabin bags.

Here are some of our top packing tips to help you travel better and avoid having to pay hefty extra fees. Spoiler alert; packing prep is just as important as packing itself.


Always make a list of things to take

Sounds obvious, but so few of us do it and it is by far the easiest way to ensure you pack the the things you really need. Remember, you only need to do it once - save it to your phone or write it down and keep it in your suitcase for next time you travel to give your future self a head start.

Pack Early

We're not saying that you should get your suitcase out too far in advance but definitely give yourself the time to pack in a way that ensures that you aren't facing any time pressures. Last-minute packers often forget essential things.

Check the weather

Knowledge is power. See what the weather is like at your destination before you start packing - it may be warmer or cooler than you think. Use this to inform your packing decisions. If you are unsure, pack clothes that can be worn in layers so that you can adapt to your conditions.

Don’t overpack

Sure, we know this is incredibly obvious, but you really do not need to take away as much stuff as you think you do. We've all taken things away with us that we haven't touched. Lay out your clothes/packing beforehand and then remove anything you realistically won’t need. Generally, we find that if you have to question whether you are actually going to need something, you are probably OK to leave it at home. Focus on getting the essentials right and go from there.

Actual Packing

Roll your clothes - don’t fold them.

We've tried all of the different packing styles and found this to be by far the best. Not only is it more space-efficient but in spite of what you may think, we noticed fewer creases when unpacking compared to folding.

Use any packing features your luggage may have

You'd be surprised how many travellers buy a piece of luggage with packing ribbons, compression flaps or inbuilt organisers, but don't actually use them when it comes to travelling. These features are there to give you a helping hand, so make sure you utilise them.

Every bit of space counts

You can't afford dead space when packing a cabin bag. Use the cavities inside shoes for smaller items like underwear, chargers or travel plugs.

Pack heavier items at the bottom of your bag.

Top heavy luggage is a big no no. Pack the heavier items towards the bottom of your bag to improve stability when maneuvering a wheelie trolley and to help ensure backpacks are less likely to tip over if you place them on the floor. Your lighter items are less likely to be crushed using this technique, too.

Pack for the airline luggage sizer

Taking a cabin bag? If you are travelling with a piece of luggage that is soft sided, try not to pack anything on the extremities of your bag that may protrude enough to take it over the dimensions of your airline's luggage sizer. Any pockets on the outside of your bag should generally be used for small or thin items. This may seem obvious, but we've seen many legal cabin bags subject to fines because travellers have stuffed bulky items like chargers, camera stands or sports equipment into the outer pockets of their soft bags.

As a rule, try to place bulky items in the main compartment of your bag, rather than in one of the smaller external pockets. For example, don't place that brilliant but bulky travel plug in an outer pocket of your bag that has obviously been designed for something thin like a passport or a phone - the resulting bulge will stick out like a sore thumb and may make it much harder to get your bag in to the airline sizer... something that the gate assistant will be very happy to fine you for.

Wear your bulky items

If it’s appropriate, save space by wearing any big coats or boots to the airport instead of packing them. A big coat can take up the space of several garments when packed so wear it to the airport (if you need to take it at all). Also, remember that aircraft cabins are generally quite cold, so you'll be doing yourself a favour in this respect too.

Keep your essentials close

Your toiletries and travel documents should be the last thing you pack. Put them in an accessible place so you can remove them easily when going through airport security.

Embrace travelling lighter

Our final point is not so much to do with practical tips, but more about a change of attitude. We know it can be hard to adjust to packing less when heading away, but it try to see your smaller allowance as a positive. By choosing to travel lighter, you'll be saving money on hold luggage/extra hand luggage fees, travelling with fewer things to be responsible for and avoiding your luggage being damaged by baggage handlers or lost completely.

Think of it this way and travelling lighter can give you freedom from some of the stresses we have come to associate with modern travel, and that can be a good thing.