Top 20 Hand Luggage Essentials
Packing for a trip? We’ve got you covered. Before embarking on your next flight, discover our top 20 hand luggage must-haves to strategically pack your hand luggage for short and long-haul flights.
Before you get started, check the guidelines for the permitted size and amount of your hand luggage; this varies by airline. Check below to see the luggage requirements of the airline that you are flying with.
The 20 hand luggage must-haves
1. Identification papers and documents
The first and most important item to pack is your identification. It’s best to have a folder with your passport, ID, health insurance, and if necessary, visa documents, so that they are all in one place. You can opt to print out your flight ticket/boarding pass or have it ready on your smartphone.
2. Face masks
Travelling amidst the coronavirus pandemic is not ideal, so extra caution is required. Since social distancing cannot be maintained in aeroplanes, face masks are required. At the moment, this usually begins as soon as you enter the airport. It’s advisable to pack several masks so that you can switch them out, especially on long-haul flights.
3. A pen
This tip may sound strange at first, but there is something behind it. Due to the pandemic, there are extra forms that must be filled out whilst travelling. Thus, it’s best to use your own pen.
4. Your valuables
It’s generally recommended that you take your valuables with you in your hand luggage, as checked baggage can sometimes be lost or damaged. So it’s better to have items such as your watch, camera or laptop in your hand luggage.
5. A resealable liquid container
A maximum of 100ml for any liquids applies in hand luggage. You should therefore have a transparent and sealable plastic bag (e.g. a ziplock bag ) with you, in which you can carry liquids (max. 1 litre).
6. Hand sanitiser
It’s always good to have hand sanitiser with you while travelling, but especially during COVID-19 times. However, make sure you buy the right kind of sanitiser. An anti-bacterial disinfectant does not help against the virus. Ensure that your hand sanitiser contains at least 60% ethanol. You can put your hand disinfectant in your liquid container.
7. An extra pair of socks
It’s more comfortable to take off your shoes when sitting for a long time. So have an extra pair of socks with you for more comfort or to prevent cold feet (also helps against the fear of flying!). On long-haul flights, it’s advisable to use compression stockings to prevent swollen legs and thrombosis.
8. Warm clothes or a blanket
If you tend to get cold on planes, have an extra sweater or blanket with you so that you can travel comfortably.
9. A neck pillow
Whether for leisurely reading or to slip into sleep, a (neck) pillow is a must! Prevent neck and back pain by having a comfortable pillow with you. You can buy neck pillows at the airport; some even come in inflatable forms so that you can save space in your luggage.
10. Sleep mask and earplugs
Together with a neck pillow, a comfortable sleep mask and earplugs are also helpful to simply relax or, above all, to fall into a deep sleep during a long-haul flight.
11. A refillable water bottle
Although you can’t take liquids with you past the security check, it’s smart to have an empty, reusable water bottle with you that you can fill up after. It’s more environmentally-friendly and will save you from having to buy costly drinks at the airport.
Just like drinks, the food at the airport isn’t cheap. Liquid food isn’t allowed, but you can bring your sandwiches and snacks to munch on at the airport.
For your music or other entertainment onboard, headphones are an absolute must. We recommend packing some noise-suppressing headphones that will drown out aircraft noises.
14. A portable charger
Some aeroplanes have charging points, but be sure to bring a corded portable charger with you that fits your devices.
Whether it’s an exciting book, the next gossip magazine, or a tablet with downloaded films and games, pack your preferred form of entertainment to bring on board. If you like to read, we recommend a paperback, as it is more comfortable to carry than a hardcover.
16. Chewing gum
An essential for take-off and landing is chewing gum. Chewing something, whether it's chewing gum or chewy candy, helps to equalise the pressure in your ears during the flight. If chewing doesn't work, the so-called "Valsalva manoeuvre" can also help. Hold your nose and try to exhale with your mouth closed.
17. Toothbrush, toothpaste, and other items
We recommend packing a small toiletry bag with all your essentials that you can use to freshen up during a long-haul flight or layovers. Plus, lip balm, hand cream and face tissues can help you with the relaxation you need.
18. Change of underwear
Always pack fresh underwear in your hand luggage, just in case your checked-in luggage gets lost or stolen. If you want to be more prepared, you can also take an entire change of clothes with you.
19. Hair ties
If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to pack a couple of hair ties. On-board, you might encounter the problem of having statically charged hair, and a hair tie can easily fix that.
20. Travel guide
Traditionally saved in book form or as travel articles on the tablet - use the time on the plane to plan an unforgettable trip. You can buy a variety of travel guides at the airport, or read some of Vayama’s travel guides.
Now that you know what to pack for your next trip, make sure to read our step-by-step trip planning guide, where we help you plan out all the logistics and practicalities of travelling during a pandemic. For more information, read our post-COVID travel checklist, where we answer all your questions about safe travel. You can find these articles and more in our Travel Tips and COVID Updates columns.