How To Go On Holiday With Just Hand Luggage

Packing for New York in Hand Luggage

You may or may not know that I am off to New York for 5 days. What you may not know is that for the past five years I have never travelled with more than hand luggage and I was determined to not break this habit. Well the only exception was when I moved to France – but I don’t think I can live in anther country with just a small suitcase to my name. But I’ve travelled to Spain multiple times, summered in the South of France, enjoy city breaks and travelled around Europe for 40 days all with just hand luggage.

The way to do this is with planning. I don’t take too many “just-in-case” things and plan my outfits where I can. So with New York I knew I needed 5 outfits for day time sightseeing, 4 going-out outfits, comfy shoes for the day and comfy heels for the evening. So that’s what I pack – exactly what I need. Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (4)Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (5)

So with everything I need put aside the question is how will I fit all of that into this tiny suitcase?!?Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (6)

The first thing I do is pick the biggest, chunkiest clothing and wear that as my travelling clothes. So my boots, jeans, t-shirt, handbag filled with my kindle, purse, i-phone, makeup, big chunky jacket, hat and scarlf will all be worn in the airport and once I’m on the plan I can stuff it all underneath my seat. Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (7)

First things first is pushing the shoes to the edges of you case and stuffing them with socks or underwear. In the top section of the case I put underwear and fatten it out as much as possible.

Next I find all the clothes I want to take that are thin and can be easily rolled up. I roll them up tightly and line the bottom of my case with them. Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (8)

I then take more clothes, roll them up and start lining up the side of the case, leaving a space in the middle. Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (9)

The space in the middle is for my washbag which is filled with the essentials. I decant my moisturiser, cleanser, toner and nigth cream into mini bottle that are 100ml as I can’t take more than that. Then items such as bodywash, shampoo and conditioner I pop to a shop once I’ve landed and buy them once I get to the country I’m travelling to.

Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (11)

Next I take the item which are too thick to fold and fold them neatly and place them on top of everything else. I then use the belts in the case to flatten everything down as much as possible – believe they are pulled very tightly!

Packing for New York in Hand Luggage (13)

Et Voila! I have packed in my tiny hand luggage sized suitcase – 8 dresses, once pair of jeans, one pair of trousers, 3 t-shirts, pyjamas, underwear, toiletries, 1 pair of heels and a blazer! Which is more than enough for me for 5 days in New York!

Do you usually travel light or do you take a huge suitcase? Do you have any clever packing tips?


  1. Sam Long

    Wow, very good packing and organisation! I’m almost starting to think that maybe that’s not a normal suitcase and intact a Mary Poppins one 😮 I’m planning on doing a similar post for my trip to Bremen on Saturday, so we will see how efficient I am compared to this great skill, haha!
    Sam xx


  2. laurafat2fit

    Impressive packing. I so need to do this. Whenever I go on holiday I am always SO worried that my bags are over weight due to how much I’m taking. The majority of the time, I’ve got ‘just in case’ items or more outfits than I need.

    I think I need to take on board some of your tips! They’ll certainly come in handy! 😉

    I’m late on catching up with blog posts so you’ll already be in NYC, but I hope you’re having an amazing time! x

    Laura | |


  3. Taylor Hearts Travel

    Great tips! I have a similar travel style and normally only take a carry-on bag. I have a yellow Samsonite case that I use and it really is one of my best travel accessories. It adheres to the baggage restrictions, whilst providing as much packing space as possible. I’d be lost without it!


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