The secret to travelling light

For me, travelling has always been a bit exciting, a bit of an adventure, something to look forward to and plan for and talk about and discuss.

One of the key stages of planning for a holiday is the packing. I’ve always been one for taking everything. I think it probably traces back to the family camping holidays that we always embarked on when growing up. Whether we would be going for a weekend or a couple of weeks, the strategy was always to ram as much stuff as possible into the car because you’d never know if you need it. “Do we need to take all the board games?” “Have we got enough torches?” “I’m going to stash this fruit cake in the spare tyre compartment” were all serious discussions in the final throes of packing for family holidays.

For years I have always prided myself on the size of my suitcase, I always look for a suitcase that will allow me to pretty much take the entire contents of my wardrobe with me on vacation. “I know it’s a beach holiday… but what if we get invited to a smart barbecue?” It is always best to be prepared for any eventuality. But that was the old me. I’ve changed. I now travel light. I now only ever travel with hand luggage.

The case for hand luggage

One of the game changers was the increasing popularity of budget airlines and their determination to charge you for everything that they could. Checking in luggage costs extra. If you can cram everything you need into your hand luggage, then you are saving money that will be better spent on cocktails.

There’s also the logistics of the airport. Airports chew up a lot of time even when things are all running smoothly. There is nothing more depressing though than waiting for your luggage to appear on a slow-moving carousel — the quicker that you can be off the plane, out the door of the airport and on your way then the better your holiday is going to be.

The challenge of liquids

The decision by the security services of the world’s airports that bottles of liquid posed a terrorism risk has certainly complicated things for the world of hand-luggage travellers (especially women). Thankfully my beauty regime is almost non-existent so I can easily survive on a small tube of toothpaste. But also if you find that you need something specific when you get there, they will have shops wherever you are going.

Pack strategically

The key to being able to travel with hand luggage is to be able to pack fairly strategically. Of course you wear your big bulky coat on the plane with you (even if it’s clearly too hot to wear a coat), but you need to be able to cram as many essential items into your bag as possible. Shoes always seem to take up a lot of room, so I always wear the biggest pair of shoes that I’ll need (hiking boots are hard to fly in but it’s been done), and then try and limit myself to only one pair of additional shoes. I also take a handful of clothes that I wouldn’t mind throwing out — so you can wear them, but if for some reason you find yourself tight for space, you don’t need to bring them home with you.

The challenge of travelling light. A new dimension to planning your holiday expedition.

Read more from Gareth Johnson