On a recent trip to the other side of the world we took the bold step to break free from the restrictive world of heavy bags and travel light with just hand luggage only.

In our first article Travel Light – Carry On Carry Off we explained why and what luggage we would use.

In this part 2 article Travel Light What To Pack we get down to the most important part of travelling light, what to pack.

Travel Light What To Pack

The first thing we did was to plan out what we would like to take and put it on a packing list.

Be Ruthless

The packing list is of course flexible and subject to change and what we first wrote down went through various iterations as we fine tuned and whittled down to the available space.

This is especially true of clothing. Whatever clothes you get out ready to pack for your holiday, get rid of at least a third of them – you just won’t need them especially if you wash as you go as we did.

Be Practical

Don’t pack things that will be provided for you at your destination, for example, a hairdryer or towels.

There’s really no point carrying extra weight and using up valuable space for things that are easily available to you once you reach your destination.

Due to liquid restrictions you will not be able to carry more than 100ml bottles of liquid so why bother when you can buy shampoo, shower gels, suntan cream and the like when you arrive at your destination.

But also be aware that there are alternatives to liquids and pastes for some items. Deodorant can be bought as a crystal and tooth paste as a powder which both comply with liquid restrictions.

Roll, Don’t Fold

To save space and to avoid creases, it’s best to roll clothes instead of folding them – you’ll be surprised at how much more you can fit in.

Tuck underwear and swimwear into the corners of your bag and put rolled up socks inside of a pair of shoes to make the most of unused space.

You can also use packing cubes to keep certain items together or apart too.

Suggested Packing List


– Passport (save scan to a Dropbox / Google account so you have an independent copy)

– Travel insurance details (as above save to Dropbox / Google account)

– Tickets/booking confirmations – flights, accommodation etc.

– Bank cards and cash

– European Health Card if travelling to Europe


– Hoody and light jacket (can be worn to travel in). A fleece hoody will provide the best warm vs weight ratio with the added bonus that it will wash and dry quickly.

– Scarf/overshirt – can be used for warmth in the evenings or as a cover-up after the beach

– Trousers (can be worn to travel in)

– Closed-toe shoes (can be worn to travel in)

– Shorts

– Day tops

– Lightweight evening outfits – non-crease dresses or shirts

– Swimwear

– Underwear – these take up little room, so there is no need to cut back on such essentials!

– Flip flops/sandals – super light and easy to pack footwear

– Socks – only if your closed-toe shoes require them

– Nightwear

Toiletries and Medication

– Toothbrush and tooth powder to avoid liquid restrictions

– Small deodorant – we use a crystal type as it is non liquid to avoid liquid restrictions

– Nail clippers and tweezers

– Hairbrush/accessories

– Make-up if necessary nut subject to restrictions.

– Razor and shaving brush

– Diarrhoea treatment – best to take some as you may need it in a hurry!

– Paracetamol

– Antiseptic cream

– Plasters

– Any personal medication

Provided by the hotel or to be bought on arrival: Shampoo; conditioner; shower gel; sun cream; after sun and bug repellent if necessary.

Everything Else

– Mobile phone/charger/headphones

– Camera/charger

– Travel adaptors – take more than one so you can charge all your devices or buy a USB block to expand the charging capability.

– Sunglasses

– Pen/paper

– Reading material – iPad, kindle. Downloads from BBC Iplayer as you can’t download when abroad.

– Day bag/handbag

Your Tips

Are you skilled at packing light?

Let us know your best packing tips below.

Next Up

In our next article we will see how we got on with our hand luggage holiday and see what worked well for us and what could have been improved.