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How to pack a suitcase

26 May 2016

Here are a few tricks, tips and pearls of wisdom to help you pack that case with confidence.

A suitcase being packed

Packing a suitcase for a trip can be a tricky business. Not only do you have to consider what sort of weather might occur and the types of activities or events on offer in your destination of choice, it's important to consider the variety of airline rules and restrictions that must be adhered to in order to make your way through check-in and security with a minimum of hassle.

1) Check your luggage allowance

Check your travel documents to find out your allocated luggage allowance. 

Airlines will specify a certain weight for checked-in luggage whilst many budget flights will only offer a piece of checked-in luggage at an additional cost. 

There might also be restrictions on the size and weight of your cabin baggage too - you may have to pay extra if you don't follow the rules.

2) Know your restricted items

Certain items are not permitted in your cabin baggage, and will have to travel in the hold instead. 

Sharp objects that could conceivably cause harm are on this list, though round-ended scissors or knives with blades of under 6cm are permitted. 

Knitting needles and crochet hooks are acceptable. Epipens and hypodermic needles for medical purposes are permitted with a doctor's note.

When it comes to liquids or gels, only bottles of 100ml are permitted and all need to be popped into a single, transparent and re-sealable plastic bag - these can be purchased from most airports, but a re-sealable sandwich bag will do. 

However, you can carry as much liquid medicine as might be necessary for your trip - have it ready for inspection at security.

A new ruling by the UK government at the end of March 2017 means that new restrictions on taking certain electronic items in you carry on luggage will be introduced on some flights. 

All travellers on flights to the UK from Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan will no longer be able to take items such as iPads, Kindles, portable DVD players and laptops onto a flight in their carry on luggage. 

Instead, these items will now need to be placed in your hold luggage. You can find out more information about the rules regarding the restriction here. 

3) Save space wherever you can

Pack smart and you'll be surprised at just how much you can fit in your case. Instead of folding clothing, roll each item separately - not only does this take up less space but it can help minimise the need for ironing.

If you're an avid reader, consider purchasing a kindle. This way you can have a whole world of books at your fingertips without bulky books weighing you down.

4) Make plans for your bulky items

Check your airlines procedure for checking in bulky items that won't fit in your luggage. Many travellers like to take their golf clubs and skis on holiday whilst others may want to pack a pushchair for little ones. The airline will usually check in these items as an additional bag, sometimes for a fee. However, weight and size restrictions may still apply if you want to avoid a heavy bag charge.

5) Choose the right suitcase

Choose your suitcase with care to ensure your possessions are protected during your travels. A soft bag can work well in the cabin as you can squeeze it into the overhead locker and it will absorb shock better than a hard case whilst a tougher exterior will protect your belongings in the hold. However, investing in good quality luggage is the most important thing to prevent any cracks or rips as it makes its way from A to B.

Save hundreds of pounds on holidays and cruises - browse our available travel offers and find out more here.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.