Never has there been a more persuasive argument for packing your life in your carry-on bag, when going on vacation. With the rising cost of fuel and additional airline surcharges, many low-cost airlines are either giving discounts for passengers with carry-on luggage only, or charging extra for hold baggage. Not only that, but there will be no need for a lengthy wait at baggage reclaim.

Another strong argument is that, with thoughtful packing, you can survive with the items in your hand-luggage, whilst your other baggage has been sent unwittingly in another direction, or stuck somewhere in the system in Heathrow’s Terminal 5!

If you have ever lost your luggage, you have perhaps learned (the hard way) the most important things to pack in your carry-on bag. It’s advisable to prepare for the worst case scenario. As the comedian Bob Hope once lameneted, “I love travelling, I’ve been to almost as many places as my luggage!”

Essential Items for Your Hand Luggage

What to include in your hand luggage depends on the type of trip you are taking and the size and weight of your hand-luggage. However, there are a number of common factors — valuables, important personal and business documents, high value and breakable items and medicines, (providing they conform to new airline caerry-on regulations, the 100ml liquid rule). It’s also important to check the exact measurements for carry-on baggage allowed by your particular airline, if in doubt. Airline restrictions tend to vary in this regard, particularly with low-cost carriers.

It is also an idea to pack anything that might see you over the first 24-hours of arrival, should your luggage go-walkabout, and turn-up a day or so later. This includes thinking about your wardrobe.

What to Carry in Your Hand Luggage

To avoid a Naomi Campbell moment (lost luggage at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5), here are some tips of what to pack for your summer vacation, including some from the In Style magazine team, in their book Secrets of Style:
• A set of underwear
• Nightclothes, or T-shirt that can double as a nightshirt
• A swimsuit – if going to a beach resort or hotel with pool. Also consider a sarong as it can double as other items, such as sleepwear or a skirt.
• A favorite lightweight dress or outfit that you simply can’t do without.
• If you a carrying a large handbag on the flight, then consider packing a small clutch purse in your carry-on.
• A favorite pair of lightweight shoes that will carry you through the next day or so.
It’s also a good idea to consider the option of a go-anywhere outfit, such as a dress which is travel-friendly and can be worn several ways. Australian designer, Sacha Drake has come up with what she calls the Ultimate Little Black Dress – a dress which can be worn 20 ways. A lifesaver for someone who has lost their luggage!

The emergency wardrobe that you pack in your carry-on will also depend on what you choose to wear on the flight, and how much of that outfit can be worn again, should the need arise. Wearing a shawl or jacket on the plane, means you have a cover-up; and if you are wearing flats or sandals then these should be versatile enough to match a number of outifts.