How to pack for a two-week holiday with only hand luggage

Outfits for a weekend break? That’s easy. But enough clothes and accessories for a whole two-week holiday with just hand luggage? It’s easier than you might think.

Naturally, there are some serious benefits to cutting down the amount you’ll be dragging around with you. There’ll be no lugging a giant case up and down cobbled streets over on the continent, or panicking about where you’ll put it on a crowded train. You won’t need that taxi to the airport with the supersize boot, and you’ll be able to breeze through to the departure lounge even quicker, without having to pop to the bag drop first. When you land on either side, there’ll be no wait at reclaim and you can get first pick of the seats on the coach, or get to the front of the taxi rank faster.

Firstly, you need to understand what you’re working with. That means knowing your limits. Typical dimension limits for hand luggage are roughly 56cm x 40cm x 25cm, this includes the length of wheels, handles and pockets. Some airlines will allow you to carry another smaller personal item too, this might be a laptop or camera bag, while all airlines that fly from Manchester Airport will allow you to take on board a shopping bag.

Be aware that weight limits can vary a lot and are subject to change, so always check your airline’s hand luggage restrictions before flying.

Choosing the right bag – convenience vs capacity

Choosing the right bag

When it comes to packing light, it’s all in the details. Choosing the right bag will save you time, weight and money, as well as being more convenient for the type of trip you’re taking.

Wheeled suitcases/cabin bags:
If you know it’s just a case of dropping your bag at the hotel and then getting out to explore then a wheeled suitcase might be the best solution. They can be cumbersome, but they will protect your belongings while letting you glide around airports and hotel lobbies with ease.

Be wary though; carry-on suitcases’ pull-along handles and metal frames add weight before you’ve even started packing. Hard-shell cases offer more protection for your belongings but can be weighty; always check the weight as well as the size of your bag before you buy. There are now ‘super-light’ options available, so it might be worth considering a new case.

Backpack or duffle bags:

Backpacks or duffel bags

If you’re not too concerned about the protection or convenience that a wheeled cabin bag offers, the right backpack or duffle bag can provide you with better storage capacity. Providing you don’t get a wheeled backpack, you’ll avoid any heavy frames that take up your weight allowance.

Backpacks are fantastic for busy capital cities and tourist hotspots., With your luggage conveniently on your back, you’ll be able to navigate through crowds with ease and avoid getting caught up on cobbled streets. If you’re visiting multiple places, or even hopping a few islands, a backpack or duffle bag comes into its own. For the most comfortable and secure carry, look for features like adjustable straps, a padded hip belt and locking zips.

When buying a backpack for a longer trip, check the dimensions to make sure it’ll fit in the overhead locker. Most backpacks up to 40 litres will be accepted as hand luggage as long as they’re not too heavy. Always check with your airline for their latest hand luggage rules.

Packing perfection

Packing is an art form

Packing is an art form. Refining your technique so that you have everything packed for a two-week trip can be a challenge, regardless of your destination.

When it comes to deciding what goes into your hand luggage, each item needs to meet two criteria. Is it essential, and is it versatile? If it’s both, it goes in your bag. If not, leave it at home.

• Pick things you can mix and match. Neutral colours ensure a versatile palette.
• Try to avoid packing things you can only wear once. That goes for accessories too.

Tips & tricks

Roll your clothes, don’t fold
You can fit your luggage into a smaller space if you roll your clothes rather than folding them.

Roll your clothes, don't fold

Start with items that don’t crease, like underwear and nightwear that won’t be seen. Once a roll is large enough, neatly and smoothly wrap tailored shirts, jeans and dresses. As a bonus, rolling your clothes means fewer creases – and less ironing while you’re away.

Shoes & boots
Footwear is usually the bulkiest thing in your bag, and can add a lot of weight. Try to pack only one or two extra pairs in addition to the shoes you wear to the airport, and pack them on the inside with socks, delicates and valuables to save on space.

One of the downsides of travelling with just hand luggage is not being able to take all your usual toiletries through security. Don’t let that put you off!

Hotels typically have complimentary soap, shampoo and conditioner – check the details of your holiday booking to see if toiletries are provided where you’re staying. If they are, you’ll be free to use your liquids bag for multitasking mini toiletries. For example, a moisturiser with UV protection is useful for warmer countries.

Hotel toiletries

Another option is to choose solid alternatives to your usual toiletries. Items like bar soap and solid bars of shampoo and conditioner are a hand-luggage-friendly option as they don’t count as liquids for airport security.

Alternatively, pack just the essentials and pick up what you need at the airport after security – saving money by not paying for checked luggage could be just the excuse you need to treat yourself in Duty Free. Why not order what you need online and then pick it up when you travel?

Whatever you decide, place your liquids bag where it’s easily accessible so it’s ready for security and you don’t have to undo all that careful packing to reach it.

Use your personal item wisely

Use your personal items wisely

If your airline allows an extra personal item, for example a laptop or camera bag, use that extra real estate to store your travel documents or other travel items safely. Note that you may want to save that personal allowance for the return home for any souvenirs you want to bring back.

Wear the big stuff
If you’ll need them on your trip, rather than wasting valuable hand luggage space with bulky knits, coats and boots, wear them on your flight. You will need to take off bulky clothing at security though, so you might want to avoid anything that takes a long time to take off or put on.

If it’s cold at home but you’re going somewhere warm, consider booking an airport car park close to the terminal so you don’t need your cold-weather clothing. The Meet & Greet car parks at Manchester Airport are just a couple of minutes’ walk from Departures.

Pack lightly and enjoy your holiday destination with total freedom. Find your next adventure with flights from Manchester Airport.