Fly with Carry-On Luggage Only: 8 Packing Tips for Business Travelers

4 min read

JOHANNESBURG – Boarding an aircraft continues to be a critical facet for corporates across South Africa with astute travellers opting to fly with hand luggage only for shorter trips to help save both time and money.

Research from luggage company Antler has previously revealed that about 1 in 4 business travellers polled opt for just hand luggage while travelling.

“In a country where airfares can be quite expensive, and checked baggage is now routinely charged for, it makes sound financial sense for South African corporates to maximise their carry-on allowance whenever possible,” said Bonnie Smith, GM of FCM. 

Smith continued that flying for business was a comprehensive undertaking, even for the seasoned professionals, and offered eight tips to help pack everything for a next trip.

“Business travel is usually jam-packed with meetings, events, and conferences – anywhere that time or money can be saved is like gold dust – so it’s not surprising to see corporates opting to turn up to an airport and go straight through security with hand luggage only,” said Smith.

“This is a lot easier than you may think and there is a myriad of ways that executives can pack lightly and strategically to avoid checked baggage.”

  1. Get the maximum carry-on allowance.

Choose an airline that allows up to 14kg in carry-on baggage, either as part of the airfare or through additional carry-on allowance that can be purchased. Additional baggage fees purchased online will be lower than the fee applied at the airport.

While the International Air Transport Association prescribes the maximum dimensions for carry-on baggage, both international and domestic, to be 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, dimension and weight requirements can differ across airlines, with 14kg generally the maximum allowed. In addition, domestic and international flights allow one personal item that can fit under the seat in front, while some airlines also allow passengers to take a garment bag. Use this allowance to pack more essential items in a small backpack or a laptop.

  • Book a hotel with a good range of amenities.

Reduce the need to pack all your essentials by booking a hotel with premium toiletries, skincare, and hair appliances; gym and pool facilities; and spa services to give you everything under the one roof. Pack any further essential toiletries in travel sizes, ensuring they adhere with airline guidelines on liquid items.

  • Avoid technology and bulky hardcopy files.

Take an ultra-slim, lightweight laptop or tablet on the trip. If you need to take hardcopy presentation documents, contracts, training manuals or other files, consider digital copies – saved on a device, USB or on the cloud – and organise to have them printed at your destination hotel. Kindles are another storage idea for reading materials on your flights. They are ideal for storing large files and weigh no more than 188g, with a charge that can last weeks.

  • Pack multipurpose items.

Pack business clothing that can transition into leisure wear and stick to neutrals that can adapt well to different situations. Consider taking loungewear that can be worn on international flights and for sleep. Packing three tops for every bottom can also help you transition the same items from day to night, and work to leisure.

  • Utilise empty spaces in your luggage items.

When packing, cleverly place smaller valuables inside other items. For instance, jewellery or phone chargers could be stored inside shoes or coat pockets. Tightly roll clothing items to allow for more compact packing and prevent creasing. Some experienced travellers, however, prefer folding clothes and prevent creasing by placing tissue paper between each fold to ensure items remain neat. 

  • Wear your bulkiest clothing on board.

When travelling to colder destinations, consider wearing bulky outerwear or boots in transit to avoid wasting limited luggage space. Another clever space-saver is to place loose items such as wallets, passports, and pens, into your jacket pockets, provided they have a secure zip. Many flights have hooks on seats for passengers to hang jackets.

  • Consider using a packing app.

Free smartphone apps such as PackKing or PackPoint can generate a packing checklist based on the travel destination, duration of stay and planned activities, along with information on laundry amenities and other essentials in proximity to the booked accommodation. If your business uses a travel management company (TMC), take advantage of the expertise of their travel advisers and innovative technology, which provide in-depth information that can assist with planning your travel, including packing strategically.

  • After you pack, try to reduce your luggage by another 20 per cent.

When you have finished packing, step back and consider whether every item in your carry-on is essential and will be used well and remove items that will not be. Know that you can purchase additional essentials at your destination and plan to use your hotel laundry service to wash clothing items that you will wear more than once.