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How To Pack For A Beach Holiday With Just Hand Luggage

Updated on May 11, 2014


Holiday season is here again
Holiday season is here again | Source

Before You Start To Pack

Before starting to even think about packing decide what your main activities on holiday will be. Obviously you may not know the minute detail but you will know if you are planning a relaxing beach holiday, a water sports holiday or are heading to the beach but intend to do a lot of sightseeing.

It is not only possible but relatively easy to go on holiday with just hand luggage. I am currently enjoying a two week relaxing beach break and yes I travelled with just hand luggage. What is essential is that every single item you pack has to serve a few different purposes so a bit of careful planning and a determination that you won’t take you entire summer wardrobe, is all that is required.

But of course I also know that with ‘package’ holidays hold luggage may be free and a lot of people using budget airlines are happy to pay the £30 for hold luggage but I actually enjoy the challenge of packing light.

Check Specific Airline Requirements

Make sure you know Exactly what size hand luggage is allowed.
Make sure you know Exactly what size hand luggage is allowed. | Source

Airline Regulations

It is essential to be very clear about the particular airline requirements with regard to hand luggage, for the airline you are travelling with – there are broad similarities but also a few important differences so do check before you select your case or bag. With some airlines the weight doesn’t matter but the size of the bag does and with some, for example Easyjet there are two sizes allowed, the smaller of which will be guaranteed to fly with you in the cabin and the slightly larger will usually be in the cabin but on very full flights may be put in the hold.

If you opt for the slightly larger be sure when you pack that you know exactly where any items are that you may want to take on the plane with you if your case does get put in the hold, things like money, documents, glasses or reading book etc.

If the weight does matter then make sure you know what the weight limit is and weigh your case before you set off to the airport.

For general advice on what is allowed as hand luggage and what you can put in your hand luggage check the link.

Know where flight essentials are

Make sure you have what you need for the journey
Make sure you have what you need for the journey | Source

Key Choices

Spend a little bit of time thinking about what you will need. For example beach wear, something for sightseeing and something for the evening. Obviously you don’t want to wear the same things all the time but you do want to reduce the total amount that you pack. So, pick a few versatile favourites as main items, maybe some jeans or cropped trouser, tailored shorts, or maybe a skirt, then you can build the rest of your holiday wardrobe around these. Think also about the size of items and the fabric, things that don’t crease too easily and are not made from heavy fabrics will usually work best. Don’t forget to plan what you will wear to travel in, as this can be a good way of ‘taking’ some heavier items like jeans or jackets.

Add Variety with Lightweight Tops

Colourful tops can add variety
Colourful tops can add variety | Source

Colour Options

Many people, both men and women, often have a base colour for their major wardrobe items, blue, black or brown perhaps. Others may have several but for the purposes of packing to go away choose one and then build the rest around that. So perhaps one pair of Jeans and one pair of black, white, brown or stone coloured trousers for example – remember you can wear one to travel in and pack the other. Then choose tops etc to go with those ‘bottoms’. Try to pick items that can be dressed up or look casual for maximum use. Try to avoid taking two similar items so for example take maybe white jeans and black linen trousers which can serve different purposes but can both be dressed up or toned down. The other important point is that several tops can go with both. Often summer tops for both men and women are made of fairly light fabric so it is possible to pack a number of them into a small space.

Beach wear is essential

Cover ups are essential for the beach
Cover ups are essential for the beach | Source

When The Heat Is On

If you are planning on a beach holiday then you are usually hoping for warn weather but of course it is never guaranteed so it is important to make sure you pack a couple of warm layers – cardigans jumpers or jackets, one of which you can wear to travel and for women maybe a shawl or pashmina which may look more appropriate for some evening outings.

In terms of beach wear I think two swim wear options are the minimum and that means you can always have a dry ‘set’. Although swimsuits, bikinis and swim shorts for men are all lightweight and squashing in a third probably won’t cause too many problems. The same goes for cover up beach options, and I would consider a sarong, a smock or a lightweight beach dress essential for slipping on when you head for the beach bar. Shorts or sundress would also be on my essentials list, but again I would opt for fairly lightweight fabric. For days out exploring shorts are a must and don't take up too much room.


Accessories can change a simple vest top into something that works well for the evening.
Accessories can change a simple vest top into something that works well for the evening. | Source

Footwear and Accessories

If you feel you must have a pair of ‘sturdy’ shoes then clearly that’s the pair to wear when travelling as they can take up a lot of space (and add considerable weight) in your hand luggage. In addition to that most people would want to take some flip flops or beach shoes, perhaps some sandals for days out and maybe a pair of shoes for evening wear. But think versatility again, some flip flops will be fine for days out and some sandals can work for day and evening wear. Try to pick colours that will go with all the outfits or try going for a complete contrast with some bright summer coloured sandals.

They may be small but it is with accessories that you can change the look and feel of several ‘outfits’. For some people that is really important – plain vests or T shirts can look completely different with a statement necklace for example. Obviously the choice will be up to you as an individual, but jewellery, scarves, belts can all be squashed into small corners and change something dramatically for an evening out.

Remember that generally we all pack more than we need - check out the video below.

Tips for packing light

Other Essentials

What a lot of people see as the greatest inconvenience of travelling with just hand luggage is the rule about liquids – only 100 ml containers allowed. So toiletries must all be of the mini variety. There are a couple of different approaches to this and I know people who will decant their favourite shampoo etc into 100 ml bottles and others who simply buy what they need in the shops in the departure lounge AFTER they have been through security. In all but the most remote of places there will be supermarkets where such items can be bought, often for not much more than in the UK. unless you are very particular about what you want to use. Whatever you decide though it is important to be safe so make sure you do have sun cream to protect your skin and after sun or moisturiser to counteract the drying effect of the sun.

Then you are ready to simply walk off the plane, bypass the crowds waiting for luggage, and start enjoying your holiday.

Hit the beach

Get out of the airport quickly to start your holiday
Get out of the airport quickly to start your holiday | Source


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    • Sheila Mulvenney profile image

      sheila 3 years ago from Bedford

      Thanks for your comment and if you are going away - have a great time!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Great tips for packing! I like to pack light and just get the essentials in but I always can get carried away with myself with beach packing. Nice hub, voted up!