1. For starters, double check the rules of the airline you're flying with.
Some low cost airlines have a ruling that you're only allowed to take one item of carry-on luggage, whether a handbag or small case.
Some low cost airlines let you take on one small case and one handbag, but do have size restrictions, so check that out.
For long haul flights, you probably won't be taking a case on board with you, so you're good to go with packing your carry-on bag.
2. Pick your bag well.
Make sure it's a good 5 or 6 inches wide to ensure you get everything in without it ending up in a muddle. And for long haul flights, definitely make sure it's tall enough to house your stack of magazines for in-flight entertainment. If you're anything like me, you'll end up with quite a weighty bag, so check the handle/strap is strong enough and long enough to go over your shoulder (trust me, you'll end up needing both hands free at some point!).
3. Now pick your outfit.
If you're one of these people who likes to travel in a hoodie and joggers, good for you, but I'm afraid that's not me! Unless you've got hundreds of bags to choose from, or are buying a new one, I'd pick the bag before the outfit and match around it. Go for something that's still comfy, and trust me, you'll want to be warm enough when you're going to the airport this end but cool enough when you arrive in whatever sunny destination you've chosen, so perhaps go with layers. Plus the plane's always a bit nippy!
4. Get your essentials together.
I always do this a day or two ahead of time to stay organised.
These are my absolute essentials to take with you in your carry-on:
- Your travel documents - passport, parking/transfers/hotel confirmations, boarding passes if you've already checked in, or flight confirmation if not. I keep the majority of my foreign currency with these bits so it's safer.
- Purse, with some home currency as well as enough foreign currency to cover your first day (including a taxi fare from the airport). Also, at least one credit card but no debit card as it's harder to sort if it's lost or stolen.
- Phone - fully charged!
- iPad if you've got one, with lots of music and the latest episodes of your fave show downloaded to pass the time.
- Small make up bag - for whatever your own make up essentials are.
- Clear bag for your liquids - don't forget each item has to be under 100ml and don't take anything you don't think you'll use as it's added weight you don't want. I take a baby deodorant, moisturiser, baby dry shampoo, and a little perfume.
- Pain killers
- Magazines for a long haul flight - I always check that I haven't bought 4 with the same headlines!
- Camera - check there's a fully charged battery and empty memory card inside.
Another tip to make your flight more enjoyable and stress-free is to use airport lounges. Some only cost £20 or so and it's well worth it. Away from the hustle and bustle of the departure gates you can enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and a light meal, leaving you in your own little bubble before boarding.
Most importantly, once you've got all this in hand, try to relax and enjoy your flight and holiday!