You can fit a lot in just a carry on bagPacking masterclass: how to travel with hand luggage only

Packing can often seem like the hardest part of going travelling. Deciding what to take, working out how to fit it in the bag and then how on earth to carry it, the whole process can cast a shadow over your trip of a lifetime before you have even left the house.

So how do you get it right? Our packing masterclass teaches you how to cut down on the stress by only taking what you need, and ditching the rest. Destination Manager Anne firmly believes that you can achieve a week-long trip abroad on hand luggage alone, and possibly even longer. Here’s how.

    1. Make a list!
      Going old skool is one of the most successful space-saving tips that we could give. Write a list of all of the things that you really need – this helps you to focus your mind and realise what things you might need to wash or buy before you go. When it comes to packing, you have to remind yourself to stick to the list – do not pack that extra pair of shoes or t-shirt that you love but that are entirely unnecessary for your upcoming trip. Use the kit list as a check list as things go in the bag, ensuring that you don’t forget something essential.
    2. Roll your clothes
      Before you pack your clothes in your bag, roll them really tightly. Not only does this stop them wrinking in your bag, but it means that they take up less space as they are more compact. It also means that you can shove them in the most inaccessible recesses of your rucksack more easily.
    3. Stuff your shoes
      Most shoes are sturdy and cannot be squashed overly well. You should always wear your bulkiest shoes on your flight, but the ones that you keep in your bag should be stuffed with underwear or other small items.
    4. Decant your toiletries
      Before you even think of putting your full bottle of shampoo and conditioner in your bag, think how long it takes you to use the entire bottle in normal circumstances. You will have to be carrying those bottles around with you, so decant only what you need into smaller bottles. It makes things lighter, and means that less space is taken up in your bag. Double win!
    5. Take a bag inside your bag
      Take a small cloth bag which you can fold up tightly into your bag. This is really handy for whilst you are away and needing a small bag for day trips. It is also really handy for items that you want to be easily accessible during the flight – we’re thinking any entertainment materials you have for the flight, your phone, your passport and your water bottle.
    6. Use a small rucksack
      Temptation nudges us all to buy the largest bag that we can get away with. Don’t fall for it. Buy a bag that looks like a good size that you can carry, and that has a good number of pockets or compartments. The smaller the bag, the more carefully you will consider the items you will take with you. If you have space, you will fill it!
    7. Travel in the bulkier items
      Always always wear your bulkier items when travelling – this would include walking boots or any type of sturdy shoe, your jacket, your jumper… anything that takes up more room than you are willing to give it!


  1. Think outfits!
    This may seem mad, but when you are packing, you should always be thinking about your clothing colour scheme, and whether the items that you are packing can be reused in different outfits. We all like variety, so take tops that, paired up with different shorts or jeans, will look very different.
  2. Question your packing choices
    No packing item should ever make its way into your bag before it has been thoroughly cross examined. Every item that you are taking with you should have a purpose, rather than being there “just in case”. Do you need so many tops, can you cut down on the grooming products, will it be cold enough to need that extra hoodie? Make sure you only take things that will be realistically usable, and more importantly, useful.
  3. Wash as you go
    If you are going away for an extended period of time, or really are pushed for space, always make room for some travel wash. You can wash your undies and t-shirts as you go, and hang some items off your rucksack to dry as you travel.
  4. Take a travel towel
    Towels are bulky, and often take up more room than you would want them to. Give yourself as much space as possible, and get yourself a small compact travel towel. Not only do they dry you incredibly well and fold up incredibly small but they also dry incredibly quickly.
  5. Pack in packing cubes
    Packing cubes are ideal for keeping your clothes protected and all in one place. It makes things much easier when you are unpacking too! Keeping things tightly within a cube also helps to reduce wrinkles – don’t forget to roll them first!
  6. Download travel guides on to your phone or Kindle
    Travel guides are bulky but often indispensable! If you are someone who likes having a paper version of your guide book, photocopy the pages you need – otherwise just pop them on your phone or Kindle to avoid extra packing.

If you are looking to put your new found knowledge to the test, why not consider one of our short term getaways? Most animal welfare projects last from just one week long – a perfect way to put your newfound wisdom into practice!

A selection of travel items for hand luggage packing

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