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How to pack light – 10 things you don’t need to take on holiday

Go hand luggage only and avoid unnecessary baggage fees with our expert tips on what NOT to pack in your suitcase.

We are all guilty of packing too much stuff for our holidays than we need. Why not trim down your packing list before you travel and go hand luggage only. Here are our expert tips on what NOT to take on holiday.


How you pack is as important as what you pack. To get great tips on packing check out our handy advice. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the essentials. Underwear is a necessity but a pair for every day of the holiday is not. This is where travel wash comes into its own. A couple of pairs of undies will do thanks to this handy liquid. Avoid cords and denims, they are just too heavy and space consuming. Shoe-wise, a pair of walking boots or flip flops and one pair of smarter shoes should do the trick. Taking a pair to go with each outfit will only lead to regrets when you can’t fit in those lovely holiday souvenirs on the way home. One top tip is to make a list for each day of your holiday and plan your outfits before packing. It really works!

a neat suitcase packed with rolled up clothes

A little light reading

Light being the operative word here. The whole Harry Potter series may be a dream holiday read but a packing nightmare, especially if you’re only taking hand luggage! You may spend less time reading on holiday than you think, but if books are an essential then an e-reader is the way to go. This way you can take the entire works of Tolstoy in your hand luggage. As far as guidebooks go, just photocopy the pages you need rather than taking the entire book. Lonely Planet even offers mix-and-match guidebook chapters that can be downloaded as PDFs from its website for all your sightseeing needs!

a wall of bookshelves covered in books of all colours

Go go gadgets

Electronic translator, hair straighteners, electric toothbrush, hairdryer, travel iron, coffee maker…yes, these have to go. Whether you’re on a beach or ski slope, it is possible to survive without these ‘luxuries’ for a week or two. For gadget geeks who can’t quite bring themselves to leave all their tech at home a charger that can power up your e-reader, phone and iPad and a travel adapter plug may just have to do. After all, you’re supposed to be ‘getting away from it all’, aren’t you? Ditch the screens and check out the scenery instead!

a table with a laptop, iphone and ipad

Throw in the towel

Literally. If you’re going on a beach holiday, pack a sarong instead. This can double as a skirt and drying tool. Gents, you could brave the sarong a la David Beckham or perhaps you’d prefer to opt for a super-light and absorbent micro-fibre travel towel instead? If you’re going to be staying in hotels, leave towels at home as you’ll have full fluffy luxury where you’re staying.

Camera equipment

Unless you’re David Bailey or a photojournalist flying off on an assignment you probably won’t need your long-range telephoto lens, spare battery, 20 rolls of film and tripod. Of course it’s lovely to have photo memories of your holiday but smartphone cameras are more than good enough to forgo all the faff of professional equipment. If you really must take your SLR, double up your camera bag as a handbag.

 table with a camera and polaroid photos on it

Sentimental snacks

Even if you’re jetting off on a round the world trip, you still don’t need to pack the Heinz beans, HP sauce and PG tea bags. While you may miss these good old British treats, part of the joy of travelling is experiencing exciting new cuisines and mouthwatering street food. Plus, you’ll appreciate the food back home all the more on your return.

a bowl of noodles with eggs and green vegetables


There is usually a favourite product you feel you can’t live without, and that’s okay. However,taking the entire contents of your toiletries bag will just take up space that could be used better. Again, if you’re staying in hotels make use of their free toiletries and save the space in your hand luggage. For those can’t-live-without essentials, go mini with 100ml travel bottles into which you can decant your must-pack products. This will also ensure they meet the hand luggage liquid restrictions. Ladies go make-up minimal and enjoy the sun-kissed or snow-tanned look. Moisturiser is more important than mascara.

a neatly packed toiletry bag with hairbrush and other products

Ditch the bling

While that Gucci handbag or Swarovski diamond bracelet would look lovely with your evening wear, leave the valuables at home. They will only take up space and you’ll spend the entire holiday worrying about their safety. You can always treat yourself to some locally hand-crafted products instead.

a table scattered with colourful jewellery

A proper shirt

Unless you have a business meeting or a date in the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, you probably won’t need to pack a shirt. It will inevitably crease in transit. The need to find an iron coupled with it just taking up unnecessary room means the starched collar is better left at home. Go for a more relaxed t-shirt holiday vibe instead.

Restricted items

Avoid any hassles at the airport by NOT packing fireworks, firearms, party poppers, weedkiller, baseball bats or car batteries…among other restricted items. They’ll take up space and you’ll never get them through customs! If you’re not sure what items are restricted, check out our handy guide

a surface with streamers and party poppers

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