17 days away with hand luggage only

UntitledI’ve recently been on a trip of just over two weeks for work. I flew with KLM, and  checked-in baggage would have cost an extra £40 (at the discounted rate for booking in advance), so I wanted to travel with hand luggage only. Normally, when I travel for leisure, I travel for under seven days and always find it easy to travel with hand luggage and even have space in my suitcase for my handbag and a coat. Given that, I thought I’d be able to manage a longer trip.

There were two points in my favour:

  • it’s June, so I expected the weather to be warm at least. That meant I could travel without a coat and bulkier items of clothing. It also meant I could pack sandals instead of a heavier pair of shoes, and didn’t need lots of pairs of socks/tights.
  • I was staying in Airbnb accommodation, so I expected to be able to do a load of laundry for free while away. I would have struggled to pack for 17 days without washing anything. However, that it partly because I’m doing Project333 and so don’t have enough clothes to get me through 17 days, even when I’m at home. I certainly don’t own 17 pairs of underwear!

So what did I take?

  • Suitcase
    H:50cm x W:40cm x D:20cm, Weight: 1.4kg, Volume: 40 litres. I chose this size because it fits most airlines’ hand luggage restrictions, which tend to vary e.g. Ryanair 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, Easyjet 56 x 45 x 25 cm, KLM 55 x 25 x 35 cm, Lufthansa 55 x 40 x 23 cm. A suitcase which takes you up to the maximum allowance for any of those airlines would be officially ineligible with other airlines (actually, this one should be officially ineligible for KLM but I haven’t been turned away so far).
    I bought it from Amazon in April 2014 for £12.94, and it’s been on at least 15 trips with me since then. It’s a soft shell, with wheels, a pull handle and two long, thin pockets on the cover. I would always recommend soft shell for hand luggage, as you can squash more in, and it fits better into the airline size-guide cage and the overhead lockers. It’s also easier to squeeze into a train or bus leg space when you’re travelling to or from the airport.
    NB one suitcase wheel broke during the trip, so I’ve had to replace the suitcase:( It still cost under £1 per trip. 
  • Clothes
    I pack my clothes using bundling/interfolding. I like being able to put in and take out my clothes in one big pile, and I also find it convenient when I have to open my suitcase to remove my laptop and toiletries at airport security. Nothing gets mixed in with the clothes because they’re all in one big pile. 
    1 long skirt, 3 short skirts, 2 trousers, 2 cardigans, 1 long-sleeve top, 1 3/4 sleeve top, 5 short-sleeve tops, 1 vest top
    The idea when choosing my clothes was that:

    • I should have enough tops to be able to wear a fresh one each day for a week without doing laundry (since I was expecting it to be quite hot).
    • A choice of trousers to wear when travelling or if going out in the evening.
    • Mostly formal wear since this was a work trip.
    • A few options so that if my legs started needing some maintenance by the end of the trip, I could keep them covered up.
    • I had also thought of bringing my black casual dress but didn’t. Next time I would, to have something casual to wear at the weekend or e.g. if I went for an early evening run, had a shower and then it was a bit too early to put pyjamas on.
    • I didn’t take a coat because I was expecting it to be hot. It was a bit cool on some days and I would have liked to have brought my pashmina. I do usually pack this but forgot on this occasion; it would have fit into the suitcase.
  • Toiletries
    1 travel toothbrush, 1 travel toothpaste, 1 carton bicarbonate of soda, 1 tablespoon scoop, 1 empty 100ml bottle, 3 white vinegar (I use the last four items to wash my hair), 1 moisturiser, 1 fake tan, 1 shower gel, 1 homemade deodorant, 1 oil, 1 flannel, 1 nail varnish (I knew I’d be wearing sandals and my nails would need a top-up), 1 tweezers, 1 lip balm (in my handbag). All my toiletries are decanted into hotel shower gel bottles, I don’t buy anything specific for travel except the toothbrush. The travel-sized toothpaste was a free sample. Normally I stop using my full-size toothpaste when it still has a little bit left in it, fold it up and take that with me. I don’t wear make-up on a regular basis so that saves space.
  • Shoes
    1 pair patent black sandals. These are new and fairly smart, so I felt like I’d be comfortable wearing them for work and dinner.
  • Nightclothes
    1 pair of cropped pyjamas
  • Underwear
    9 pairs of pants, 3 pairs of socks, 1 bra (1 of each worn while travelling)
  • Electronics
    Work laptop, power cord, phone charger, adaptor (work and home phone carried in handbag while travelling)
  • Sports clothes
    1 pair of running leggings, 1 t-shirt, 1 sports  bra, 1 pair of running socks, 1 phone holder, 1 pair trainers (trainers worn while travelling)
  • Miscellaneous
    1 laundry bag, 2 plastic bags, 1 eye mask, 3 tupperware containers (as I was staying at Airbnb and thought I might do a bit of batch cooking), 1 umbrella (in my handbag).

How did I do?

  • I had more than enough clothes to last the whole trip. I did a load of laundry on day 8, which dried by day 10. I could have done another load of day 14, but it would have only just dried by the time I needed to go home, so there didn’t seem to be much point. Because of different locations during the trip, and taking into consideration drying times, it wasn’t feasible to do any laundry during days 1-3 and days 11-13.
  • I got on ok with just sandals and trainers. Although it was a bit colder than expected on some days, I was usually just going from my accommodation to a meeting venue so it wasn’t a problem.
  • Toiletries were more of an issue. I should have exchanged the moisturizer for another bottle of vinegar. I’d expected to be able to find vinegar in the Airbnb places, but it was more difficult than expected. It would also have been good to have fitted in a bottle of sun cream.
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