Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

Top 5 hand luggage essentialsYou'll hardly see a traveller at the airport without a backpack or some form of hand luggage that they plan on taking onboard the flight.  But just what should you pack in your carry on bag?  After many years of travelling, on both short and long-haul flights, I've put together a list of my top five essential items to pack in my hand luggage.


Top  5 hand luggage essentials

Book or magazine

I never travel without something to read. Whilst the in-flight entertainment might keep you amused on the plane, there are all those hours of waiting at the airport to fill in and a book or magazine can help to pass the hours.

Neck pillow

Great for keeping you head from wobbling to the side if you doze off. Leaning over towards the person in the seat next to you is bad enough if you know them - resting your head on a strangers shoulder doesn't bear thinking about!

Pen and notepad

There are always forms to fill in, both at the airport and onboard before you land at your international destination, so a pen is a necessity. A notepad is handy, too, if you're the type to write 'to do' lists or jot your inspirations down on paper.

Packet of sweets or lollies

On long flights, and for those who suffer ear aches during take off and landing, a packet of lollies can come in really handy. Sucking on a lolly helps to relieve ear pressure and on long-haul flights, a bit of a sweetner might just be what you need to get you through to the next airline meal.

Change of underwear

No one likes to think that their luggage will be delayed or lost but unfortunately it does happen. Don't be caught short - pack a spare set of underwear in your carry on bag. It won't take up much room and doesn't weigh much, so there's really no excuse!

You'll notice I haven't mentioned money, passport, airline tickets, etc as I always carry these in a money belt worn around my waist. Packing them in carry on luggage (especially if you store it in the overhead locker) means it is not always in your possession and could lead to your valuables being lost or stolen.

Other items worth considering

Toothbrush, toothpaste and other toiletries so you can freshen up before you disembark. Just remember the rules for taking liquids (which includes toothpaste) on board.

Remember to check in advance what weight restrictions apply for carry on luggage with your airline. Many airlines, particularly the budget carriers, are becoming increasingly strict with weight and size allowances and charge excess fees for every kilo you are overweight. Don't get caught out at the airport. Know your weight allowances in advance.

What essential items do you carry in your hand luggage that I haven't included here?

© Holidays to Europe


# Carolyn 2013-11-03 17:28
Hi Jo,

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I agree - why should only those up the pointy end have an amenities kit?!! Even if it's one they've packed themselves, economy class travellers will be thankful for a toothbrush and comb on a long haul flight.

Unfortunately, unlike yourself, I haven't quite mastered the carry-on-bag-on ly packing method for a whole trip yet but I am following the great tips on your blog and hope to achieve this one day!

If my readers are keen to learn more about Jo's one-bag packing tips, I recommend you visit her blog at

Thanks again for your thoughts, Jo.
# Jo 2013-11-02 17:23
I don't take a special carry on bag, as I only ever travel with just one carry on bag and therefore have everything with me on board. For people travelling in economy I like to recommend packing your own amenities kit with small toothpaste, toothbrush, socks, lip balm and ear plugs/eye shade if you use them. They can be packed separately in their own ziplock bag, so take up no room. Why should those at the pointy end be the only ones with an amenity kit?
# Carolyn 2013-08-07 12:08
Glad you enjoyed the post, Infotasbranded.
# Infotasbranded 2013-07-19 22:39
Great! Love this kind of posts because you end up knowing more people and find out great inspiration!