Packing Tips – Bags

So I’ve talked about what to pack, but of course you need something to pack into…

Depending on your requirements you may have a number of different bags that you use for specific types of travel.

In terms of air travel, you can break them into three categories:

  • Personal item
  • Hand luggage
  • Hold luggage

Note: Depending on the type of ticket (class of ticket), you will be able to use some or all of these bags. It’s important to check with your airline what you are allowed to take, and any restrictions that are in place. If you have to take more than one flight, check with each airline on the restrictions – as they may be different (personal experience).

Personal Item

This is the smallest bag that you take – although not necessarily a small bag.

Whatever bag you take, it has to be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you. If it’s the only bag that you take, then it can also be put into the overhead bins.

Note: This is true for many tickets, but not all. Some airlines if you’re travelling hand-luggage only may insist that it goes under the seat.

The cheapest type of flights often will restrict you to just a personal item, unless you upgrade your ticket.

The contents of this bag should be the items that you can’t live without, for example:

  • Paperwork/Identification Documents
  • Medicine
  • Jewellery

I’d also recommend including:

Small Personal Bag
  • Electronic chargers
  • Pen

My Options:

I have a number of small bags, that I can choose from.

My current favourite (pictured), holds more than you think. It’s large enough for a Kindle and a number of others things (e.g. power bank, cables, passport etc.).


  • Single piece of item guaranteed to be with you on the plane
  • Easy to carry


  • Smallest luggage, holds the least
  • Has to fit under the seat in front

Hand Luggage

This is the second type of bag that can be taken into the cabin with you.

It has to be able to fit in the overhead compartment, although it can also smaller enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

Should you choose to go up to the largest available size (remember – check with the airline for the size), it can be moved into the hold if there isn’t enough space in the cabin.


Always have a spare padlock in your hand luggage, just in case it needs to go into the hold and you need to secure it.

If the padlock needs a key – make sure that you have it, and it goes into your personal item. A padlock with a code might be better, if you can remember the code.

My Options

I’ve got a few choices that I can pick from.

Tripp Case

I have a Tripp wheeled case – I like it because I have mesh pockets in the lid – so I can pack items that I want to access quickly there.

It’s got a main compartment for packing, and a small zip mesh pocket for bits and pieces.

With 4 wheels on the base, it stands upright and is easy to move.

The size fits within most airline requirements.


I’ve been seeing the Gate-8 brand for years (usually advertised at exhibition centres) – and at one of the events I took the plunge.

Things I liked:

  • Wheeled bag, but can be worn as a Ruc Sac (has a cover for the wheels to protect your clothes).
  • Has a removeable (zipped) front section. The main section (clothes etc) can be left in the hotel, and you carry a small bag.
  • Designed for business travel with a built-in “folding bar” for your clothes, and a velcro toiletry bag.


I also have my ‘everyday’ ruc sac, with multiple pockets that I’ve used many times on flights, for events and short trips.

As a ruc sac I can carry it, leaving my hands free. It’s a good size and holds a lot.

The main reason I like this one, is that it has several pockets, that allows me to organise things.


  • It’s with you all the time
  • Can be large enough to pack clothes in – replacing the need for hold luggage


  • Need to keep it with you all the time
  • As it’s going into the cabin – liquids need to follow the 3-1-1 rule

Hold Luggage

The final type is the largest size that you can take, as it will be stored in the hold.

While you will be able to drop-it off before you go through security, there are sizes and weights associated with this type of luggage, and remember that you need to be able to move it around.

Check the details with your airline, as some don’t include hold luggage in your ticket, some only include one – most airlines will give you the option to pay to take hold luggage, or additional hold luggage.


  • No restrictions on the size of liquids
  • Keeps your hand luggage lighter
  • Allow you to take a larger array of items with you


  • Large item
  • Maybe heavy
  • Unwieldy
  • Inconvenient if you are travelling to lots of places
  • May have to pay to take it with you

General Tips

Hold Luggage

Black appears to be the standard colour for many people.

You’re standing at the luggage carousel waiting for your bag – but how do you know it’s your bag?

  • Colourful luggage strap – or two around the bag making it easy to see and identify
  • Not a black bag – buy a bag that will be easy to identify as yours
  • Something around the handle – another option to be able to check that it’s your bag. Note: The bag is going to be moved, and handled by people – think about how to ensure that it will stay on the handle and not get lost.

Cabin Luggage

Consider where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Are you moving around?

Will you need to carry it? Straps, Handles or Ruc Sac

Wheel it around? A lot of the travel bags are now on wheels, but do you need to carry it up stairs? along pebbled streets? Where are the handles – top and/or sides? Can you easily pick it up to put in an overhead compartment?

Is it black? How will you identify that it’s yours?

Personal Item

Are you actually able to have a separate item?

The cabin bag may have to be your personal item.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take one with you. Find a small bag that will fit into your cabin bag – then you’ve got it when walking around the airport, and when you’re at your destination.

Just make sure that it will fit (with everything else) into your cabin bag… either with things in, or empty.

I prefer cross-body bags (I have sloping shoulders so wearing a long strap bag often falls off), and I’m not a fan of holding them (either clutch purses or handles).

What size does it need to be to hold your key items (both travelling and for use at the destination)?

Find one that suits your needs.

Next in the series – Packing

9 thoughts on “Packing Tips – Bags

Add yours

  1. “…items that you can’t live without…” :


    Essential – really ???

    I have a CabinMATE (sic) from :-

    A very good investment.

    My top tip would be never fill a suitcase on wheels so that it is so heavy that you cannot carry it. I knew someone who had a big suitcase that was heavy and then a wheel fell off ! It was a big, albeit short-term, problem to them.

    1. Hi Paul,

      I agree that jewellery isn’t essential for me, but there are some people who feel that way.

      And thanks for sharing your tip – great advice.
      If you’re flying, cabin stewards aren’t allowed to pick up your case to put in the overhead bins, in case it’s heavy and hurts them.
      So it’s important that you can pick up all of your cases!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: