What to Carry in your Carry-on Luggage

I had never given much thought to hand luggage until I used a budget airline (Iberia) in Europe. Now I know: what you pack in your hand luggage is essential! Here’s my experience, along with everything you should keep in mind when packing yours: 

I was checking in my baggage when I was told that I’d need to also check in one of my hand luggage bags as well, at no extra cost. Thinking this was great, I handed it over without much thought.

At this point, I had my first experience with an Italian man and to put it simply, it was not what I had imagined. Sitting next to him, the smell of sweets (the orange & yellow ones you leave behind in a packet), mixed with bad breath was unavoidable. To make matters worse, he was snoring the whole way and took up both armrests, making the very small space I had that much smaller (and this is coming from me, a generally tiny person). 

Based on the air fare, I was expecting food, although I quickly learned that you could only order snacks which you had to pay for. I ended up getting the cheapest items on the menu: a coke and packet of chips for ⍷5 (about R72)!

It was also incredibly hot on the plane and I happened to be wearing my warmest, heaviest clothing for when I landed in icy Venice. 

After we landed, I waited for my luggage to pop up at baggage claim. It didn’t arrive; I headed to the luggage claims desk, holding back tears that had built up during this pretty awful day. Leaving the airport with only the backpack on my bag, I’d have to make-do with the bare minimal’s inside.


  • Check the number of bags allowed for hand luggage- normally it is 1 or 2
  • Ensure that your bag fits the requirements
  • Make sure that the bags you send are locked or wrapped and ideally have a lock on-hand, incase you need to send it in with your other luggage
  • It sounds pessimistic, but pack your hand luggage as if your actual luggage might be delayed by a day or two. Pack your essential toiletries, your valuables and a change of clothing, including space for a jersey or jacket if you get hot on the plane
  • If your luggage does not turn up, don’t panic. Report it at Lost and Found immediately. Mine was delivered (with all in order) the following night.
  • Have money on you for snacks
  • Take items that may make sitting next to a difficult passenger more bearable, i.e earphones and entertainment


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