Wheelie or backpack? The best way to pack so you don't have to pay for hold luggage
What is the best bag to pack all of your holiday essentials into?
After a summer of travel chaos, flight cancellations and lost luggage, 2022 travel hasn't been the easiest.
Now we're heading into winter, with the cost of living rising dramatically, our appetite for travel might not have changed but our budgets have.
We're all looking for ways to cut costs whilst still enjoying our well-earned time off. And whilst I can't do anything to change the cost of an air ticket, cutting out those added costs, such as hold luggage, might save you a pretty penny or two.
Travellers with just hand luggage can also avoid the baggage drop queues by checking in online and proceeding straight to security. Plus if your flight is cancelled, it’s much easier for the airline to transfer you straight onto another if they don’t need to find your luggage somewhere in the airport system first.
But before I told you to leave your suitcase behind, I thought I should see if it was even possible.
I recently managed a four night stay in Belfast with everything I needed - including my laptop - packed into a small rucksack. It left me quietly confident that I could rise to the challenge to pack everything I need for a full week away.
However, to test the theory in a more scientific way, I gathered every item I took on my recent seven day trip to Croatia to see what I could and couldn’t fit in a hand luggage sized bag.
❔What is the best hand luggage bag?
There are two key factors to consider when it comes to deciding what type of bag to take.
Firstly, what airline are you travelling with? Budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair now only give you the equivalent of a handbag or small backpack as standard. (40 x 20 x 25 cm for Ryanair and 45 x 36 x 20 cm for easyJet.)
If you want a bigger backpack or a wheelie mini case, you’ll have to pay extra. But if you’re going for a week or more it’s probably worth forking out a few euros more.
The second thing to consider is where are you going and what type of holiday is it?
I’ve just come back from a wonderful week in Croatia, exploring Dubrovnik and the nearby islands.
During my trip, I discovered it was probably a bad idea to take a wheelie suitcase to Dubrovnik. There are so many stairs in the city and it’s a real pain to lug a suitcase up them to get to your accommodation.
The same rule applies if your accommodation is anything above the second floor in an old building. Do yourself a favour and choose backpack style luggage instead.
Snugpak Pakbox review: Here's what I thought of it
A wheelie trolley is a classic hand luggage choice and something you’ll probably already own. (You’ll see from the video above that mine is looking a little worse for wear after many adventures.)
A great way to keep your case organised and stop it turning to chaos when you’re rummaging for one particular item is to invest in some packing cubes.
I opted for the Snugpak Pakbox which come in 1, 2, 4 & 6 litres sizes. For my case I got just the 1, 2 & 4L options as I think the 6L would take up most of the space and basically defeat the purpose.
The 4L Pakbox was the perfect size to fit all my evening and city sightseeing clothes in. I’d usually opt for a fold and stack sideways packing technique (à la Marie Kondo) but as the cubes aren’t particularly deep, I’d advise you roll your clothes.
The 2L is handy for underwear, pyjamas and other delicates. In hindsight, I’d probably buy two of these if I wanted to avoid any random floating items in my case as I found there was no space for my beach cover-ups.
Snugpak Pakboxes are €8.50 - €12 depending on size.