Travel Tips

Pros and Cons of Travelling with Hand Luggage Only

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When you travel on a plane you can check luggage into the hold or take smaller bags and suitcases into the cabin with you. Most decent airlines allow one or two items of cabin luggage for no extra cost, and a way of travelling can be to only take hand luggage and not even bother with a big checked bag. By travelling this way there are various pros and cons. Keep reading to learn more.


– Pros of travelling with only hand luggage –


Some flights such as package holidays and long-haul flights include a checked bag by default, but on short-haul, budget or independent flights you may not get any luggage included unless you pay extra for it. This can range in price and sometimes checking in baggage can cost the same (or more) than your place on the flight. So if you decide to only travel with hand luggage you will instantly be making a great saving and this helps if you’re on a budget.


Travelling and lugging around a big bag can be a total pain. This is especially true in big cities when you hope to only take public transport to/from the airport. Such as in cities like London you may find there aren’t that many lifts on the tube (subway) so you’ll probably end up carrying your bags up no end of stairs.

Quicker at airport check-in

Imagine not having to endure long queues to check-in your baggage! Well by only taking hand luggage you can do just that. So once arriving at the airport you can head straight through security and relax a lot more before your flight. Or if you prefer you could leave home for the airport a bit later as you’ll have one less thing to do.

No luggage to collect once you’ve landed

As well as being quicker on the departure side of your flight you’ll also save time once you’ve landed, as you won’t have to wait and collect any luggage. Actually waiting to collect your baggage can sometimes be horrendously slow such as at Heathrow Airport in London it took over 45 minutes for my luggage to arrive.

Sometimes airlines allow an unlimited weight

Some airlines such as easyJet (subject to change) have a fantastic cabin luggage policy and allow a decent size bag/suitcase and also an unlimited weight allowance. easyJet also provides flights all around Europe and is great for short city breaks trips.

Less risk of your luggage going missing

Travelling and waiting for your luggage to appear but it not doing so can be extremely stressful and can almost ruin your trip. Of course for longer trips, you’ll likely need a large bag, but for shorter trips, by only taking a smaller bag for the cabin you’ll be able to avoid the misfortune of this happening to you.


The last pro for only taking a cabin bag is that generally, it’s a lot more relaxing and one less thing to think about when you’re travelling.

– Cons of travelling with only hand luggage –

It can be harder to pack

Travelling with only a small bag or suitcase for the plane has a lot of benefits, but for longer trips such as over four days, you’d either have to pack extremely carefully or have to consider checking in a larger bag. You could also consider just taking a small cabin bag and washing your clothes while on your trip.

Difficult if your flight has a weight allowance

Most airlines do have a weight allowance for cabin bags apart from easyJet (subject to change) and possibly others. For airlines that do have a weight restriction, it’s often quite low such as 5kg-10kg which means that heavy items, such as a DSLR, shoes and other items may quickly eat this allowance up. A good technique might be to put some heavy items in your pockets and wear heavier shoes to try and counter this allowance.

It’s also important you check the restrictions before you leave for the airport, such as the maximum dimensions for your cabin bag and also if there is a weight. If you don’t check this you run the risk of excessive baggage fees at the airport.

It can be hard for photographers

If you’re a travel photographer and have a lot of equipment you may find it a pain travelling with just hand luggage. Often you’ll have a lot of heavy and bulky items such as lenses and camera bodies, potentially drones and this takes up a lot of your space in your bag. If you’re going for a very short trip such as three days you may cope, but anything longer you may find you need to take another bag with you.


Travelling with just hand luggage can be a great way to travel, making the process in the airport easier and less hassle. It also makes it more comfortable for you when you arrive at your destination as you have smaller and lighter luggage and also don’t need to wait at the baggage collection.

Occasionally some airlines will try and check your hand luggage into the hold (due to space), so we’d recommend checking the airline’s policy when booking, and also trying to be towards the front of the queue when the plane starts to board.

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Written by

Mike Clegg

Mike is a traveller, photographer, WordPress developer and the creator of He started this website so as to share his experiences and tips with travellers. He is from the UK and has travelled to many places around the world. He loves to shares his pictures and stories through Instagram and this website.

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