What’s in my Bag – Flight Edition

Posted in Beauty, Fashion, Travel.

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Last Wednesday I jetted off to Barcelona for some quality time sans coat and scarf. I’ve been on a few overseas trips this year and last, and packing for them never gets easier. I’m quite a fastidious packer but I have a tendency to fill my bag – I like to have all my ‘stuff’ close to hand. A habit that often leads to frantic rearranging at the airport when I’m three kilos over the limit and Ryanair want to charge me £60 for the pleasure. Which happened last Wednesday.

We experienced the wrath of Ryanair a couple of times on our trip – their baggage policy is very strict but not always enforced, which makes it almost impossible to pack to their standards. And one of the stupider rules is the ‘only one item of hand luggage’. So a suitcase, a handbag or a laptop bag. You can, however, buy a massive bag from duty free and shove as much as you want into it. And don’t think because your suitcase was the correct height on your flight out, it will still be the correct height on the way home. My poor friend Clare was stung for £50 because her suitcase apparently grew a couple of inches between Nottingham and Barcelona. Crazy.

So, with all that in mind, it pays to just carry the essentials. If you have a checked bag (like I did), your handbag can double up as extra space for items that may take you over the checked luggage limit (damn you, curling wand). If you have hand luggage only, keeping your handbag light means you can squash it into your suitcase at a moment’s notice.

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My handbag is the Longchamp Le Pliage large shopper. At £72 it wasn’t cheap, but my god – it was worth every penny. These bags are huge but fold down to nothing, with handy press studs to keep them in a neat little square. They’re lightweight and squashable but strong enough for a heavy load (try a DSLR camera and extra lens, MacBook Air and charger, hairdryer, hair straighteners, curling wand, bag of jewellery, two jumpers AND everything you see up there. Yes, I WAY overpacked). They’re comfortable to carry – I used this during the day while in Barcelona – and they’re really secure with a top zip and press stud flap. Plus they come in lots of lovely colours. BUY ONE.

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My flight to Barcelona was only a few hours, but airports and planes are sweaty, stifling places. You’re usually wandering round the airport in a coat and scarf, dragging a bag and desperately looking for a seat. And on the plane, you’re wedged between a kicky two year old and an Aussie rugby player who is literally radiating heat. The chance to freshen up should never be sniffed at.

For my short flight, I took a whole load of minis – deodorant, hand sanitiser (have you SEEN plane bathrooms?!), hand cream, lip balm, a perfume sample and a hair brush with mirror. Other than the deodorant, all the minis are from beauty boxes, street samplers, magazines or department stores – I hoard them and save them for travelling. Just remember they need to be 100ml or less and put in a clear plastic bag for security.

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The last few things in my bag are practical. I always keep my passport in a zipped side pocket for safety and easy access (nothing worse than the terrifying stomach drop when you think you’ve lost it). My phone in case I fancy some music and headphones, because plane headphones are the living worst and you never know when you’ll be the one sitting next to that kicky two year old. My purse for duty free shopping (natch) and my Kindle with new books loaded and ready to read.

The final thing in my bag is possibly the most important for surviving a flight in style and comfort – a lightweight scarf. Apparently regulating the temperature of aircraft is akin to splitting the atom – the slightest change and it either plummets or soars. Scarves like this one from Cos can be scrunched up in your bag and whipped out when you feel the chill, then stowed away when it gets warm. And they double up as pillows, blankets for your knees and napkins when you spill red wine during turbulence. True multi-taskers!

So that’s it – the What’s in my Bag Flight Edition, with added practicalities to help you navigate through luggage policies and reach your final destination. Anything I’ve missed? What do you pack in your handbag for a flight?



I always end up having to be really strict with myself when it comes to books or I’d never get my bag on the plane! I’m going to south america next year and I’ll have to get a kindle. I went to Paris twice last year and only took a carry-on case and then a handbag that I could fit on the top for getting it on and off the plane x


Hi Amira, no – sorry if that’s not clear! I had a checked bag for my Barcelona flight so all my stuff went in that and this bag is what I took on the plane. Ryanair only allow one piece of hand luggage (plus one Duty Free bag) so you need to squeeze your handbag into your suitcase if you’re travelling with one! Such a silly policy because as soon as you get on the plane, you remove your handbag!


I’m a major germaphobe so when i go on planes I take tons of vitamin C and use so much hand sanitizer haha


Totally with you on the lightweight scarf and Kindle (and Macbook Air), but I always travel with a compact camera now, can’t face lugging the DSLR! And mum and sister are longterm fans of the Longchamps shoppers – that is quite a load you got in there! The beauty of a nylon bag is that they don’t weigh a thing. I must admit I totally splurged on a Jerome Dreyfuss one (I can’t tell you how much – my boyfriend nearly fainted when he realised it wasn’t leather!) but I don’t regret a single penny, I use it every day and for every outing with my 10-month-old baby – I’ve had to re-think the whole bag content thing now I’ve got various baby paraphernalia as well! Lovely post btw!
Julia x



These bags are amazing for travelling I have one but its 3yrs old has been totally abused and is only just starting to wear. I use it most days for work as its great for the Macbook Air as you say all all my other crap, its the bag that takes everything! Love Barca was there in Jan 🙂

Helen Le Caplain

Wow you managed to get so much practical stuff into that one carry-on – I salute you!

I’m a new member of the kindle club and I’m looking forward to not lugging paperbacks with me when I go on holiday later in the year! 🙂

My fail-safe addition to any flight is, as you mention, a pashmina scarf – they really are a God-send!



I don’t understand the “one piece of hand luggage” rule. You end up packing your handbag into your carry on, only to get it out on board the plane. Surely if it’s a small additional bag it doesn’t make much of a difference?! It’s not like you’re carrying two whacking big carry on suitcases?! Ahhh I don’t know!

These rules must be there for a reason, right?!

One of my in flight essentials is a bag of sweets/mints to have in case of ear popping….especially if you are under the weather!

Ginger x


I don’t get it either, Ginger! It was hilarious to see everyone stuffing their handbags into their cases just to walk through boarding, then whipping them back out as soon as they were in the tunnel to the plane! Absolutely pointless. We saw one lady actually THROW her handbag in the bin because it wouldn’t fit in her case and they wouldn’t let her through with it. MENTAL.

Good tip on the sweets!

allison d

Hah tell me about it! Flying as a normal person who doesn’t want to arrive bored and smelly is almost impossible! Especially with airberlin or British airlines! There is a reason Naomi Kate and co only fly with private jets! Love the post though


I’m flying to Prague in July with Easyjet and they have the same rules about the ‘one bag hand luggage’ rule, but does that mean that I can only have my little cabin suitcase..and NO handbag?! It doesn’t make anything clear, but I don’t want to arrive at check in and have them charge me an extra £50!

louisejoyb x


Yes! It depends how strictly they enforce the rule… I flew with easyJet from Milan into Gatwick with a small suitcase and a handbag and they didn’t say anything. But technically, you should be able to put your handbag inside your suitcase and not be over the size or weight limits!

I recommend buying a tote bag from duty free (has to be duty, you can’t bring your own!) to shove all your stuff in until you’re on the plane. Everything is geared towards you spending more money, so of course a duty free carrier bag AND a suitcase is fine! 😐 x

PS Have a great trip! 😉

Avenue 57

I wish budget airlines would weigh passengers and luggage – that would mean I could take more on board because I weigh less!!

Mel Chillag

Stressing over what to carry on our flight to New York next week! I’ve definitely put a pashmina on my list though it’ll come in handy as a blanket.


Longer haul flights are usually much more lenient with carry-on – when I last went to NYC I had a big tote and my handbag. I recommend an inflatable neck pillow and toothbrush/paste as well as the scarf! 🙂


I also just returned from Spain today! I carried a backpack as my hand luggage and fit in: DSLR, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, clothes, flip flops, umbrella, 3 apples, 600 page book, notepad, travel cosmetics AND my handbag. You can save a lot of space by filling the pockets of your jacket with small items or just wearing that extra sweater on the plane. I am really efficient at packing. Oh, and my tickets were 0€! Love Ryanair, if you read and obey the fine print, it’s super affordable.

Lucy Loves To Blog

Great post, I’m always super organised for flights on our 10 hour flight home from Mexico I had books, magazines and my iPad to keep me busy. My boyfriend had nothing and the inflight films were awful, don’t think he’ll be doing that again anytime soon! xx

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Sarah @ Elettravelle

Ugh their baggage policies are so awful – I once had a really embarrassing moment when my case got stuck in the cardboard box they use to check your bag isn’t oversized. Strangely they still let me on without paying though.

My parents were on a RyanAir flight where the staff were so busy checking bags, they managed to let a passenger board the wrong plane! Nice to see they have their priorities right…


Loved this! I am an appalling packer and I’m flying to Spain for the week in July with only hand luggage. Waaaahh! xx


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