How To Pack For A European Budget Airline Trip

How To Pack for a European Budget Airline Trip - The Dance Grad

About 2 years ago, I was introduced to the joys of European budget airlines. Everyone always says how easy it is to travel within Europe, but you never fully understand until you’ve actually experienced it. To put it into terms that Americans can relate to, its basically like driving from state to state… except it can be cheaper, takes less time, and you’re far more restricted in terms of packing (because you’re dealing with airline restrictions). From London, it takes about 2 hours to fly to most other European cities, and there are multiple airports and airlines to chose from. My most frequented budget airlines of choice have been EasyJet and Ryan Air. I have also experienced Wizz Air and Norwegian Air, which haven’t been around as long and have different luggage allowances than the other two.

Speaking of luggage allowance, it was a bit of a shock when I learned how little these budget airlines actually let you take on board. I am definitely one of those people who hates checking my luggage due to the uncertainty of whether or not it’ll make it to where you need it to be. There is nothing worse then that feeling of losing a huge bag containing all the best clothes from your wardrobe (because you want to look good in your pictures, of course), so I avoid it at all costs, especially if I’m traveling for less than a week. So, before I moved to London, I was use to flying with airlines like Delta and Virgin America, and even at their strictest times, they’ve always allowed at least one carry on sized bag and one personal item. With EasyJet and Ryan Air, you’re allowed one bag. That’s it. No laptop bag, backpack or even a handbag!! If you’re a girl, and you want to take a handbag on the plane with you, that’s all you’re allowed to take! Not to mention that the size of the one bag you’re allowed on board is so much smaller than a normal airline would allow! So, basically all of the bags that I had purchased as “carry on size” could not be taken on any of my EasyJet or Ryan Air flights.

Hand Baggage Allowance for EasyJet and Ryan Air

EasyJet Centimetres = 50 x 40 x 20cm

EasyJet Inches = 19.7” x 15.7” x 7.8”

Ryan Air Centimetres = 55 x 40 x 20cm

Ryan Air inches = 21.6” X 15.7” X 7.8”

Choosing The Right Luggage

At first, this was a nightmare because I felt like I had to either carry a jam-packed duffle bag that hurt my shoulder, or wear the same outfit throughout the entire trip which can get a bit gross & smelly. I eventually found out that they sell bags that are the exact size specified by both EasyJet & Ryan Air, and I decided to invest in one of those.

The bag that I ultimately decided on is made by a company called Tripp, and it looks like this:

Tripp Cabin Luggage - The Dance Grad

It cost me about £39 ($59 USD), but it has seriously helped me during my travels. Not only is it pretty spacious inside, but I was so relieved not having to worry about my bag not fitting in that ridiculous metal measuring cage thingy that they have by the gate. I already knew that it was the exact size they required, so I knew it would be fine! If you like this bag, and want to buy one for yourself, here’s the link to their website: Tripp Superlite III 2-Wheel Cabin Suitcase.

Now, onto the packing tips! Here are a few things that I’ve learned along the way in terms of packing everything I may need in a small amount of space without forgetting and essentials AND still having space for souvenirs!!

Packing Tricks of The Trade

How to pack for a European Budget Airline Trip

1. Make a list!

For pretty much every single trip I’ve been on, I made sure to make a list of everything I may need before I packed my luggage. This helps to not only minimize unnecessary items in your luggage, but it provides for a lighter bag with more space for souvenirs on your way back home. Also, if you make a list and stick to it, you know that you’ll have everything you need while you’re away from the comforts of your own home.

plastic bags for travel - The Dance Grad

2. Bring plastic bags!

Yes, bring regular old supermarket plastic shopping bags with you every time you travel! They are a great place to wrap your shoes in order to prevent any dirt from the bottoms of your shoes getting on your clothing. You can also take extras to put wet bathing suits or dirty clothes to keep them separate from your clean ones!! Its also a great place to keep your little ziplock bag of liquids or any other liquids to prevent leakage.

How to pack for a European budget airline trip - The Dance Grad

3. Flat-pack & squish!

This rule applies to your clothing and other items as well. When packing everything in one bag, you have to make sure that everything you put in there is as flat as possible. With clothes and shoes, I like to flatten them first and then when I put them into the bag, I squish them down removing any air or space around the item. With other items like make up bags, straighteners (which I never bring on my weekend Euro-trips because air drying is usually how I roll), electronics, and toiletries, I just places them in between the clothing and shoes and also in the little nooks and crannies provided by the suitcase. Placing these items in between your clothes gives them a little more cushion, which prevents them from getting damaged during your travels. Also, using the ridges provided by the inside of your luggage will allow you to take advantage of space that one may initially consider unusable.

4. Re-wearing a few things won’t kill you!

I obviously don’t re-wear things like underwear or even tank tops because I think that they become the most “used” (for lack of a better term) after one wear. I do, however, re-wear jeans and sweaters because they are thicker and retain their shape longer. Also, wearing your jeans or other pants/trousers with different tops can give you different looks each day without having to pack multiple full outfits.

5. The less electronics the better!

Laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, chargers, etc. are the WORST when going through security at the airport. They always have to be searched even after they’ve been put in their own separate tray and put through the scanner, so if there’s a few people ahead of you that the officers have to search as well- there usually is -then you’ll end up standing there for a while. So, if you don’t have to bring all of your electronics with you, then don’t! In terms of electronics while you travel, less is absolutely better!

6. I love leggings & dresses!

Coordinating a few outfits around leggings and dresses are super easy, lightweight and don’t take up much space in your bag at all. Depending on the material, of course, leggings and dresses (worn together or not) can be either folded really flat or rolled up and shoved into a little cranny in your luggage. They are my favorite things to pack while traveling because of their versatility and ability to take up as little space as possible in the bag.

Liquids Travel Bag - The Dance Grad

7. Leave your liquids in a small plastic bag, and always bring hair conditioner!

As many people already know, if you’re taking liquids on the plane with you, they need to be in small 3 oz/100 ml containers, and they need to all fit into one sandwich sized ziplock bag (quart sized if you are traveling within the US, sandwich sized if you are traveling within Europe). Since you know you will have to take your liquids out of your bag when you get to security, why not keep them in an easily accessible place. This way you’re not holding up the people behind you for too long as you try and sort out your luggage and find your little plastic baggie of liquids.

Also, over the past 2 years, I have noticed that European hotels do not provide their guests with hair conditioner. They almost always have shampoo and body wash (or some combined form of the two), but they never provide conditioner. If you’re someone like me who needs to condition her hair with every wash, make sure that you bring a small hair conditioner with you in your liquids bag.

Longchamp for air travel - The Dance Grad8. Pack a versatile handbag!

Especially if you’re traveling on EasyJet or RyanAir, and they only allow you one piece of cabin luggage, its very easy to forget to bring a handbag with you, or a bag that you will be carrying around throughout the actual days of your holiday. Personally, I like to take my Longchamp bag, which folds up very small to fit into your luggage while you’re on the plane while also being big enough to fit everything you need on a day to day basis while you’re away! It may be a bit on the pricy side, but: a. The one shown in the picture is my 2nd ever Longchamp bag only because after having the exact same bag for 10 years prior to getting this one, the zipper started to break. (a.k.a. they last a LONG time), and b. they’re waterproof, compact & spacious at the same time! I love them!!


Final Thoughts: I hope this post helped you in packing for your next budget-friendly-European-adventure!! If you have any comments or questions, you can leave them down below or contact me through any of the ways listed on my contact page! Hope you all have a fabulous day!


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Christina <3