Simple tips for carry on suitcases

It’s a bit of a novelty these days for me to book checked luggage not only due to the costs of adding bags to budget flight fares but also because I don’t want to be lugging heavy bags between and around destinations.

Travelling with hand luggage only also means the airline can’t lose your luggage and that you’ll beat the border control queues. Even if you’re sitting near the front of the plane it can be frustrating to see hordes of people pass you as you wait for your bag to appear on the carousel and watch the customs declarations queue grow longer.

But how do you get through security and into your seat quickly when you’re dragging a carry on suitcase? Here are some simple tips for carry on suitcases.

queue of people down aisle boarding aeroplane with many already seated

What to look for in a carry on suitcase

  • Size

An agreed universal carry-on baggage suitcase size would be most helpful but until one is in place, find out the current limits for the airline you travel with most and make your purchase based on that or smaller.

  • A front pouch for your Laptop

This means it is easily removed to go through the scanner. Charge everything fully before you leave and pack chargers in an easy to reach place inside the bag.

As cheap flights which have no baggage allowance often also means no entertainment, your laptop will also be easy to retrieve and good to go once you’ve boarded.

  • Expandable

In case of shopping or lazy packing on your return, having zips to make the bag larger when required is ideal.

  • As light as possible

If you only have a 7kg limit you’ll want as much of that as possible free for your belongings.

Simple tips for carry on suitcases travel

Some things to consider packing

  • Snacks for the plane, breakfast for your destination

Take the opportunity to save some shopping money by taking snacks for the flight as well as breakfast with you. Sealed single-serve porridge packets take up next to no space.

  • A Microfibre towel

If you’re particularly intrepid and not staying somewhere with towel service or beach towels these are lightweight, take up minimal space, are easily washed by hand and dry fast.

  • Lip Balm, Moisturiser, Eye Cream and multi-purpose disposable wipes etc.

Basic cosmetics and wipes can make you feel more like a person on a long haul flight.

On the other hand don’t pack

  • More than a weeks worth of clothes

Accept that you’re going to have to do some laundry.

  • Too many pairs of shoes

Obviously consider your planned activities and what you’ll need, but keep in mind any extras will add to your weight and take up space.

  • Books

Swap them for an ipad, tablet, e-reader or Kindle App on your phone.

Flying through security

  • Take an EMPTY Water bottle (to refill after security)

Planes dehydrate you and the water just does not come around frequently enough. Save buying a bottle of water from the vending machine post-security by taking an empty bottle with you and refilling it at a water fountain at your gate lounge.

If there’s water in the bottle you’ll be held up slightly while it’s disposed of or you’re expected to drink it on the spot.

  • Remember 100ml (or less) for toiletries in a clear plastic bag

It’s very easy to not notice that the bottle of sunscreen you threw in last minute is actually 120ml resulting in security confiscating it. Also keep in mind hotels generally still provide shampoo and soap.

What tips for carry on suitcases do you have? Leave your tips below.



  1. October 30, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    I’ve always been a chronic overpacker (must have the perfect outfit for all situations!) so it’d be an interesting challenge to see if I could get everything into a carry on!

    • November 1, 2015 / 1:16 pm

      Ah yes having the perfect outfit for all situations with a limited luggage capacity is TOUGH!