Skip to Content

How to pack for a week away with just hand luggage

How to pack for a week away with just hand luggage

Are you going away for a week and planning to just take hand luggage? It’s going to be a squeeze but it’s more than possible if you follow a few simple tips! Packing light for a weekend away is relatively easy. If you’re away for 3 days you’ll only need to pack 2 outfits and some toiletries and you’re good to go. But what about when you’re going away for a whole 7 days!? How to you squeeze everything into your hand luggage for a week long trip?

Since writing this post, cabin luggage has got even smaller so here’s an updated post about Small Carry on Luggage and how to pack everything you need!

Here are my 10 top tips for packing for a week away with just cabin baggage

Weekly Travel Hack- How to find the lowest rate for hotel rooms (1)

1. Plan a rough itinerary before you go

You may be wondering why being super organised and planning your trip before you leave would affect your packing but it really does.

If you know what you’ll be doing each day you’ll know what you need to pack and what you can leave at home.

You’ll know how many outfits you’ll need for nights out, how many days you’ll spend on the beach, how much walking you’ll be doing and if you’ll need any special gear like walking boots or a fancy dress.

2. Plan every outfit

When I’m packing light I plan each and every outfit I’ll be wearing.

Rather than taking 10x tops and 3 x skirts and leaving the rest up to how I feel on the morning, I know exactly what I’ll be wearing for each activity I have planned. This will stop you overpacking and stop all of those ‘just in case’ items from slipping into your case.

3. Be a little bit gross

Let your standards slip while you’re travelling and wear whatever you can multiple times. I’m the first to admit I’ll wear the same jeans all week while I’m away and just pack different tops to go with those jeans. It makes packing light so much easier!

You don’t really need a fresh outfit everyday you’re away so double up wherever you can.

(Note: I’m not talking about wearing the same undies all week!)

4. Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are a lifesaver when you’re using hand luggage only. You can squish so much more into each cube and keeps everything organised. It also makes it easier when you come to airport security as your suitcase isn’t a jumbled mess – and you’re not going to have that embarrassing moment of any knickers falling out onto the security belt as you dig around for your liquids.

Read more: Are packing cubes worth it?


5. Use the hotel toiletries

We all have our favourite shampoos and conditioners but, sticking with the theme of letting your standards slip, just use the ones provided by the hotel. You’ll save vital space and many airports only allow one clear bag for your 100ml toiletries so you’ll save yourself all the hassle at the airport.

There probably are some things you’ll need to bring so check out: How to travel with hand luggage liquids and fit everything in that tiny plastic bag!

6. Have one warm coat for cold climates

I often hear people say you need to pack lots of layers when you’re travelling somewhere cold or somewhere with unpredictable weather but I’m going to say the opposite.

The problem with having lots of layers is you end up with loads and loads of clothes that take up valuable space in your case. Surely it’s easier to just wear one or two layers and then wear a nice, warm coat on top? Then you can ditch all the jumpers and cardigans and vests but still stay cozy with your warm coat. You’ll wear or carry the warm coat on the plane so your case won’t be chocker with jumpers.

Blaze Wear Explorer Jacket - heated jacket review

If you’re going somewhere really cold, consider a heated jacket for extra warmth and so you don’t need to pack a million layers to wear underneath!

Read more: The best heated jackets for women.

7. Use the biggest bag you can

Cabin Max Travel Hack Travel Bags for Women | Ryanair Cabin Bags 40x20x25 | Laptop Backpack - Black
  • A fashionable and space-saving womens Travel Backpack cabin size which fits under the seat. It can hold laptops up to 13", serving as a convenient option for weekend trips too.
  • Features an easy access top pocket for purses, sun glasses, phones and travel documents.
  • Fits the Ryanair 40x20x25cm' free' underseat hand luggage rules. Flies for free on all other known airlines. Lightweight design weighs just 0.6kg.
Travel Hack Cabin Case with Hand Bag Compartment
  • Generous 28 litre main compartment with packing straps and a variety of zipped pockets for everything from toiletries to straighteners.
  • Rear padded compartment for a Macbook or a small laptop.
  • Stylish 600D PU outer shell with faux leather inserts and rose gold detailing.

This might sound like an obvious one but it’s actually quite difficult to find a bag that maximises the limited space you have. Check with the airline you’re flying with to make sure you’ve got the right sized luggage and you’ve got the biggest bag you’re allowed.

You could also check out a site called Cabin Max who make luggage specifically designed to be as big as possible but within the restrictions of even budget airlines. You can find bags compatible for certain airlines and they’re all fairly cheap too.

I’ve even designed my own suitcase with Cabin Max. It’s The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case and it’s huge but still the right size to be allowed on as cabin luggage. It has a top compartment to store the bits and bobs you need during the flight or to remove at security and, if I say so myself, it’s a beaut!

If you’re travelling with just ‘under the seat luggage’ then check out my Travel Hack Backpack or The Travel Hack Tote.

Read more: Can you take a suitcase backpacking?

8. Limit your footwear

Shoes are the things to take up the most space in your case so stick to one or two pairs of shoes. Wear your bulky ones on the plane and slip the smaller pair in your case.

Read more: The ultimate list of the best shoes for travel

9. Pack clothing with thin fabrics

This is particularly easy if you’ll be travelling somewhere that will be warm, and it’s even easier for women.

I like to pack simple dresses when I’m trying to pack light as they barely take up any space in my bag.

These simple but stylish slip dresses (originally from Topshop but years ago) are ideal and I’ve been travelling with them for years.

10. Can you leave that really bulky thing at home?

OK, so you’ve packed your hand luggage for a week away and you’re still struggling to get everything in your bag.

Have a look at what you’ve packed and pick out the biggest, heaviest, bulkiest things and ask yourself if you really need it. Like, REALLY need it?

For me, I’m usually digging out my high heels, my laptop and camera. They take up so much space and I don’t really need them. Maybe it’s a second jumper or your hairdryer or those cosy but bulky PJs. You don’t need them. Put them away. Travel light and enjoy!

20 tips to find cheap flights

Saturday 3rd of September 2016

[…] Read more: How to pack for a week away with hand luggage only […]


Friday 17th of June 2016

Good advises specially the "be a little bit gross". I totally live by that advice while traveling :D I haven't heard about packing cubes but maybe I should buy them...


Monday 13th of June 2016

I have to say packing cubes are a life changing hack ! I always make sure to use them whenever I go on a trip and it makes things so easier. The other tips are really good as well :)


Monday 13th of June 2016

LOVE these tips! I'm planning an 'ultimate packing resource' post soon, and would LOVE to link to this if you don't mind? :)


Monday 13th of June 2016

Yes, of course please do :)

Georgia Stokes

Sunday 12th of June 2016

Some great tips! Georgia Rose X