10 ways to travel with just a cabin bag with Very

Leaving on a jet plane? Whether it’s just for the weekend or a big adventure, a cabin bag is an extremely useful way to pack all your essentials for a flight, a train trip or to travel light on a city break. Cabin-sized bags are designed to fit in as much as possible whilst still letting you breeze through check-in without having to queue (and pay!) to stick your bag in the hold.

Bringing just a cabin bag start with the right luggage. Very stock luggage in all shapes and sizes including soft and hard cabin-sized bags – the former are easier to store and to pack and often have external pockets, but the latter are tougher and will protect fragile belongings. Here’s how to pack small and savvy for your next trip away.

10 ways to travel with just a cabin bag

1, Start with the right bag
Packing everything you need into a cabin bag starts with picking the right luggage. My favourites are my North Face Base Camp Voyager, Eastpak’s TRANS4 cabin suitcase and Rock Luggage’s Santiago Hardshell The perfect cabin bag is roomy enough to pack a weekend’s worth of clothes, well built (so no faulty wheels or dodgy handle after a few uses) and with internal pockets for stashing toiletries or tech.

2, Be tech savvy
Think small with tech – swap your laptop for a tablet, pack pocket-sized earbuds or sling your headphones around your neck and don’t forget international adapters and charging cables (I pack mine in soft pouches so they’re easy to find in my bag).

3, Make mine a mini
It’s an obvious one, but mini versions of toiletries holding under 100ml of liquid save on space and will let you breeze through security. Even better, choose soaps and solid shampoos and conditioners – they’re better for the planet and stop you having any questions over liquid allowances before you board. I love Drunk Elephant’s solid cleansers for skincare, while Lush make delicious-smelling solid shampoo bars, solid moisturisers and even solid perfume in travel-friendly sizes. Murky Mermaid do a great vegan shampoo bar in a handy travel tin.

4, List it
Make a list of everything you’ll need before you start packing – it’s a great way to avoid overpacking (will you really need five shirts?) and ticking things off will stop you forgetting hard-to-replace essentials such as medicines. If you want to be really savvy, take anything you didn’t use off the list for next time and you’ll end up paring your packing list down to the real essentials.

5, Create a capsule wardrobe
The key to savvy packing is to bring fewer items of clothing but make sure they all work hard. A capsule wardrobe specifically for when you travel is a great ideal – I recommend choosing a neutral colour theme, picking darker colours that show less dirt and need less washing and opting for items that don’t need ironing. As I’m usually hiking on my travels so I pack trekking shorts and leggings, neutral tops and merino layers, and pick plain, logo-free sports clothing that’s smart enough to wear casually or to dinner.

6, Get go-anywhere shoes
One pair of shoes to rule them all – save on space and limit yourself to one or two styles that you can wear anywhere. My favourites for travel are Birkenstock sandals – they’re having a bit of a fashion moment so you can pair them with dresses or shorts in cities, but I also regularly walk miles in mine. For proper hiking, Teva Hurricane are a trail-worthy choice. For winter, try a pair of leather hiking boots – they look good with jeans, too.

7, Check your bag’s dimensions
Airlines like to make life harder by having differing definitions of what classes as a cabin bag, so check carefully before you fly. Skyskanner has a good online guide, and most companies do comply to maximum dimensions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. Many cabin bags on sale are now approved by specific airlines, which saves you a headache if you often travel with one airline in particular.


British Airways: 56 x 45 x 25cm and an extra 40 x 30 x 15cm, 23kg each
easyJet: One bag 45 x 36 x 20cm, 15kg
Jet2: One bag 56 x 45 x 25cm, 10kg
Norwegian: 55 x 40 x 23cm and an extra underseat bag 30 x 20 x 38cm, 10kg together
Ryanair: One bag 40 x 20 x 25cm, 10kg 
TUI Airways: One bag 55 x 40 x 20cm, 15kg 
Virgin Atlantic: One bag 23 x 36 x 56cm, 10kg

8, Keep it light
Don’t forget to keep on eye on your bag’s weight – airlines may also have weight restrictions for cabin bags ranging from 7-15kg. Remember that hardshells tend to be heavier than soft bags and that you’ll probably need to tote your bag around at some point even if it has wheels – I find bags weighing 2.5kg and under are light enough to feel portable and easy to carry even when full.

9, Pick a day pack
Pack clothing and kit in your cabin bag and then pop your passport and some electricals in a mini bum bag or small, packable rucksack – wear it through the airport and then zip it into your cabin bag for check in. When you get to your destination it’ll be perfect for taking out on day trips and shorter hikes.

10, Pop it all in packing cubes
Frequent travellers swear by a set of dinky packing cubes – they make it easier to roll and store clothe and sort clothing by type such as swimwear or sports kit (I also like having a spare cube for storing dirty clothing). If you’re on a business trip you could even be super efficient and pack a cube for each day’s outfit. Packing cubes also make squaring things away inside your cabin bag easier (literally).