Or my hand luggage, since I’m a Brit and I will cling to my British English rather than give in to International English.
First, I do believe that if you can’t carry it yourself, you shouldn’t be taking it. If you need a trolley to convey your hand luggage around the airport, it’s no longer hand luggage. I have so many feelings about hand luggage – the evils of those mini suitcases (which are more popular and less mini on every plane I board) and in particular, the evils of Trunkis. But that’s for another time.
I forgot my iPod & headphones because it’s in the car. Idiot.
For my hand luggage, I use the 45 litre rucksack I use for day-to-day use while I’m away. It’s a bit big but I’ve never yet had it not fit the size or weight restrictions, it’s squishable and it doesn’t mind being unceremoniously shoved – sometimes with my feet – under the seat in front of me.
In there, I keep an A5 sailcloth pouch that I was given for Christmas to replace the ziplock plastic wallet I used to use. It contains my passport, any confirmation print-outs eg plane tickets, hotel reservations, tour vouchers, the ticket for the bus back to the airport in a fortnight. Also the little personalised notebook in which I generally write my itinerary for easy at-a-glance reference. That thing is always in my hand luggage.
Next up is things I want on the plane. iPod and headphones because emetophobe will panic if she can’t block out noise. Book. Maybe two books. Guidebook for the place I’m going, because I’m a firm believer in doing at least a little bit of research. Phone, wallet, camera and keys, because I want them safe with me. Netbook or tablet or Kindle, if I’ve brought one of them. Sunglasses. I’m that idiot sitting on the plane wearing sunglasses because I love sitting by the window but it’s painfully bright on my vampire eyes once you get above the cloud layer. Besides, they’re polarised, which means sometimes I can see things I wouldn’t be able to with my normal glasses. And a notebook, because I always believe I’ll write at least a bit of a story, despite all the evidence so far.
Then there will probably be extra clothes that I probably won’t need but take anyway in case it’s cold on the plane, just an extra jumper. Maybe I’ll be carrying my Big Coat. Maybe my hat and gloves if I’ve got on the plane somewhere cold enough to need them on the way (if I’m arriving somewhere cold, they’ll be in my hold luggage and I’ll pull them out awkwardly on my way to the bus/train while wishing I’d had the forethought to put them somewhere more accessible).
And finally, something to eat. Some Pringles, maybe. Some chocolate. A couple of cereal bars. Just junk food. Or as in Iceland this year, an obscene amount of my leftover food because it wouldn’t fit in my duffel bag. A bottle of drink bought on the right side of security.
That’s it. It sounds a lot written out but it’s not – not compared to what people take in the YouTube videos I’ve watched on the subject. Spare shoes? An entire bag of makeup and toiletries? A razor? Who needs to shave on a plane? What kind of security is taking out tweezers & sun cream but letting through razors? There are some people on YouTube who take more in their hand luggage than I do in my hold luggage – and this is supplementary to their hold luggage, they’re not even trying to avoid fees and/or carousels.
Hand luggage: pack light.