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Hand luggage essentials

Travelling can be exciting but can easily become a challenge if you forget some essentials. First, check your airline luggage policy and restrictions: luggage allowances vary between airlines.

Showing up to your flight with the wrong number of suitcases, or hand luggage that’s too big or too heavy, can be expensive.

Make sure you have everything you need close to hand during and after you land, all packed in your hand luggage.

Travel documents

Before you travel, check that your must-have documents – passport, visa(s) and tickets or boarding passes – are in order. Make sure your passport isn’t about to expire and, if you need a visa, that it’s valid for your whole trip. If your ticket or boarding pass is online, make sure your phone has enough battery and data to access it at your place of departure.

Remember to print confirmations and contact details for where you’re staying, as well as about onward travel such as airport transfers. 


If you’re travelling abroad, consider changing some cash into the local currency, in case of any issues finding or using an ATM on arrival. It may be a good idea to let your bank know where you’re going and when, to avoid it freezing withdrawals from your destination as a precaution. Consider reviewing a reputable website such as Money Saving Expert on travel money for further advice.1


Keep important items, such as phones, laptops, iPads, cameras and jewellery, with you at all times – leave space for them in your hand luggage.


Drinks on the plane will be expensive and small! Bring along a large reusable bottle to refill during your trip. Be sure to empty the bottle before going through airport security. Air in planes is very dry, so it’s vital to drink more than usual. Think about carrying an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to stop your nose drying out, especially during long-haul flights.


These days you can get travel-size anything, so make sure to pack shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, hand cream and any beauty products you may need during the trip. But be travel-savvy and don’t exceed the size limit e.g. normally up to 100ml per bottle and 1 clear plastic bag per passenger. Otherwise, security may ask you to part with some of your liquid treasures. If you can, pack your toiletries in a clear plastic bag at home to save you some time.


In recent years, food options on planes have improved. But it’s still a good idea to pack your favourite healthy snacks, and maybe save some money!

Sleep accessories

If you love to nap on planes, try a neck pillow and eye mask to make sure you get a good rest during your flight. If you’re travelling long haul, try to match your time sleeping with night-time hours to minimise jet lag on arrival. Check how to avoid jet lag.


To help you relax during your flight, earplugs can help block out noise. If you get ear discomfort, clogging or popping in planes, there are specially designed pressure-regulating earplugs.


If you need to carry prescription medicines on your trip, you must remember to bring your doctor’s prescription. This will help to avoid any issues with airport security.

Change of clothes

When travelling, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It’s a good idea to have a couple of outfits in your hand luggage in case your hold luggage is lost, stolen or arrives late.


Flights can feel even longer if all you have is the airline inflight magazine. Remember to pack a book or magazine or download a film or series to watch on your laptop, iPad or phone.


Date of preparation: April 2019




1. Money Saving Expert Travel – Accessed April 2019