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08-09-2022 | Frank Jansen

10 tips for travelling light on hand luggage

This is NOT going to be a long packing list of cycling gear but a very short one. With all the crowds at airports due to staff shortages, flying with hand luggage is becoming increasingly popular. But what if you're going to spend a whole week on the road by plane and want to do other things besides cycling? Even then it's possible, but you have to be smart. Here are our top tips.

1. Make the most of the space

If you want to carry as much stuff as possible in a small suitcase, you have to use every corner. Obviously use a trolley that has the maximum allowed dimensions (note that this can differ per airline). But that is only the beginning. A cycling jersey, socks or gloves can easily be stuffed into an empty water bottle. You can also stuff your helmet and shoes with clothing. Every cubic centimeter counts! By the way: almost all airlines allow you to take a handbag or rucksack with you in addition to a trolley. Check the rules and dimensions in advance!


Photo: A water bottle holds a lot of stuff.

2. Wash your clothes, or have them done

A hand wash at the hotel is easy. And that makes a difference. Read our 5 tips for clean clothes on vacation. Almost all hotels also offer a laundry service. This is often relatively expensive, but still a lot cheaper than flying a large suitcase back and forth.

3. Check what accessories come with your rental bike

Most rental bikes come with pedals, a pump, spare tire, multi-tool and sometimes even a helmet and water bottles. Contact the rental company and check if this is available. If so, you do not have to bring all these items yourself, which of course saves a lot of packing. Always bring your own bike computer (and mount), because if there is a counter it is usually a very simple model.

4. Put on as much (big) gear as possible on the plane

That loose-fitting jacket, those thick jeans and those big walking or running shoes will obviously take up too much space in your suitcase. So put them on during the flight. Put on layers and take extra clothes with you. In the plane you can take it off again. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Final tip: attach your helmet to your backpack, it makes a big difference.

5. Cut back on toiletries & shoes

A toiletry bag takes a lot of space in your suitcase. A simple ziplock bag with small travel packs of toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, shaving soap, etc. takes up less than half the space. A flat-top comb takes up far less space than a hairbrush. A ziplock is also practical, because at many airports liquids still have to go through security separately. Proper weight weeinies even leave the shower gel and shampoo at home and use what is available at the hotel. Buying locally is always an option.


Photo: a ziplock bag as a toiletry bag.

Besides toiletries, shoes are the biggest space eater in luggage. We already gave the tip to wear the biggest shoes on the plane. Are you going to do both MTB and road cycling in one trip? Then only bring MTB shoes. SPD also works fine on a road bike. Is it really necessary to bring more than one pair of shoes, besides your cycling shoes? Flip-flops are a good alternative, they take up almost no space. Birkenstocks cost a little more space, but also walk a lot better. Also sneakers like Converse or Vans can be easily stuffed in your bag.

Amacx sportvoeding

6. Check which gear you can duplicate and coordinate with your travel companions

A pair of cycling shades can also be worn outside cycling. The same goes for a wind/rain jacket. No one will notice that you're wearing gorgeous fancy haute couture cycling socks under your jeans. These are small savings, but they can still add up considerably. Usually you go out with several people. Make a good agreement about who takes what with them. Whether it's a laptop, a pack of playing cards, a multi-tool or a small pump, often one per group is enough.

7. Choose your cycling clothes smartly

Especially if the weather forecast is uncertain, take pieces of clothing with which you can still go either way. So leg warmers and a bibshort instead of a bibshort and a tight. Also a wind stopper should not be missing in this list, next to arm warmer of course.


Photo: there are different sizes of trolleys. Check carefully whether yours meets the airline's maximum size. In addition to a trolley, you are almost always allowed to bring a backpack or handbag.

8. Cut back on electronics (but use it to your advantage)

I was once on a short trip with someone who brought a phone, an iPad, a laptop and an e-reader. And that was for a trip of barely 5 days... Think about what you really need and what not. If you make your routes at home, you can probably leave your laptop at home (and if not, there's an app like EasyRoute, which also works well on a smartphone). An e-reader makes makes books unnecessary and takes up little space. A tablet is not much use on a short trip. Also take a critical look at all the chargers you take with you. There's a lot to be won here! There are efficient charging blocks/cables on the market that allow you to have all kinds of connections in one (USB-C, micro USB, Lightning, etc.).

9. Roll your clothes

Not only will you save a lot of space with this, but your clothes will stay fairly wrinkle-free. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to roll smartly and pack your clothes super small and wrinkle-free.


Photo: rolling your clothes instead of folding them saves a lot.

10. Remember: almost everything is for sale...

Packing light is also mainly a mindset. Remember: except for your passport, almost everything can be bought abroad, provided you don't go to extremely remote areas. Do not worry too much if you do not miss something, that gives you peace of mind during packing.

Do you have you got a good tip for us? Drop us an email!

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