Who doesn't know it: After you lost your temper for the first time already at the airport when checking in, because your backpack or suitcase was once again much too heavy, you had to repack, were finally sitting in the plane to Mexico with three sweaters on top of each other and still had to pay extra, because it wasn't enough. You arrive at your destination completely sweaty and exhausted from carrying, and the first day is already ruined.
I felt that way from time to time, especially if I had planned to spend several months or a whole year in a place - until at some point I decided to travel with hand luggage only.
Hand luggage only - Advantages
- You save yourself the above mentioned stress at the airport and on the way to your accommodation. No lugging around, no extra charges at the airport and most importantly: no queuing in the queues before baggage check-in. Just check in online, be at the airport half an hour before departure and be happy that you are so relaxed.
- You always have everything important with you. Lost luggage on the plane or bus? Not your problem. For a 35 liter backpack there should be space everywhere.
- You are much more flexible. Do you want to see something on the way to your accommodation, go for a little hike or just have some time to kill? This is much easier with a light backpack than with a heavy suitcase that you have to carry behind you.
- It's soooo time saving. Don't forget to wave to the people at the baggage claim when you pass by.
- Nobody pays that much attention to the weight of hand luggage. I never had to weigh my hand luggage before and sometimes I had up to 12 kilos with me. That should be enough for most trips.
- You are also more flexible for possible flights within a country and save the fees for checked luggage, which are usually charged by smaller airlines.
- There is no greater feeling of freedom than when everything you own in this moment is in a small backpack at your feet.
How do you travel with hand luggage only?
- Limit yourself to the bare essentials. For your clothes: simple basics that you can combine with each other and no more "just in case" clothes.
- Leave the towels at home. Even in the cheapest hostels you can get towels now. For the beach you take a big towel, which you can also use as a beach dress or skirt - that looks much nicer anyway.
- I never pack for more than a week. Even if I'm away for three months. After a week at the latest, you should find some place where to wash.
- How about instead of twenty different samples, just take a bar of soap and a solid shampoo? This is sufficient for all situations, fits into a small can or soap bag and lasts for several weeks. This is not only better for the environment, but also for your luggage.
- Use sunscreen for your face instead of day cream - one tube less and healthier for the skin. I do this myself even at home in Germany.
- I don't even try to be prepared for every situation. It's not gonna work anyway. That's why I don't have a first-aid kit. If I should really become seriously ill, I will have to go to the local doctor and for minor ailments you usually don't need medication. Many people feel safer if they have certain medication with them though. So this is up to you.
- Vital for some, I have never needed any of it even in the deepest jungle: Mosquito spray, disinfectant wipes or after-sun lotion. (Although disinfecting wipes can sometimes be helpful when the soap runs out at a rest stop).
- Kindle instead of books. So you always have your novel and travel guide with you in a compact format.
- Most importantly, no stress. I have never experienced anywhere before that there was absolutely no possibility to buy something that was missing.
World trip with hand luggage with kids
Even with small children it is no problem to travel for several weeks or even months with only hand luggage. All airlines allow one additional backpack per child. In addition, up to two larger pieces can usually be taken along free of charge. These include car seats (which you will need as a child seat on the plane anyway), buggies, prams, pushchairs or even baby beds. You don't even have to register these things in advance. However, you should be at the airport at least two hours before departure, as most of the items have to be checked in as bulky goods.
If you fly with children, you are also much more flexible when it comes to hand luggage. Bottles of water, powdered milk and baby food can be carried without complaint. I have even had the experience that with a child you can carry almost any liquid in your hand luggage without anyone asking.
Otherwise, the following also applies when travelling with children: you can always buy more. Diapers, wet wipes and other baby supplies can be found in almost every country.
Do you have any more tips for travelling with hand luggage only? Keep them coming.