With many low cost airlines charging travellers to take anything bigger than a backpack on board, we’re all looking out for ways to optimise our luggage allowance – without having to pay any extra!
That’s why I’ve decided to test out 4 viral TikTok packing hacks to find out what works, and what’s best being left online.
The Neck Pillow Packing Hack
The hack: While packing for a trip, I noticed that my trusty neck pillow had a zip. This meant you could easily take out the memory foam inside and swap it for something else. So that’s exactly what I did!
The trip: A Wizz Air flight from London to Vienna where I was only allowed one piece of luggage that measures 40 x 30 x 20 cm.
What extras did I pack: I swapped out the pillow for 7 pairs of pants, 5 pairs of socks, a pair of leggings and 2 t-shirts.
At security: I popped the neck pillow into a tray. I also left my bag at security and it went through without a hitch.
Before the flight: I fastened my neck pillow around my neck.
At the gate: When it was my turn, I scanned my boarding pass, showed my passport and then… they waved me through! No questions asked.
The pros: I already had the neck pillow so it was a free hack, it fit a surprising amount of clothing and still made a comfy neck pillow for on the flight.
The cons: Good for soft items only. Lots of potential for you to leave behind your neck pillow somewhere (it happens a lot!). You could also transport dirty clothes around your neck on the way home!!
Would I do this hack again? Yes! I was really impressed with how many extra items it held and I’m all for making my flight a bit comfier! Plus, I think it’s a relatively low risk option since neck pillows are often allowed on flights.
The Duty Free Bag Packing Hack
The hack: Once through security you buy yourself something from duty free. Then use the bag to store any extra items you have that may take you over your size or weight limit. You could also simply bring a duty free carrier bag from the past with you!
The trip: An easyJet flight to Krakow where the free baggage allowance was a ‘small cabin bag’ measuring 45 x 36 x 20 cm.
At security: I didn’t get the duty free bag until after security so just went through as usual. But if I was using an old duty free bag, I would have simply placed it in the trays to be scanned. Then took out any liquids or electronics that were stored inside.
Before the flight: Due to there being new self checkouts, I didn’t even have to buy anything to nab myself a duty free bag. Result! I then made sure I was all sorted before getting to my gate as to not alert any suspicion.
What extras did I pack: I used the duty free bag to pop in my crossbody bag which stores my passports, purse and other important items. Usually I’d have to find space in my backpack to fit this in.
At the gate: No questions asked, I sailed through!
The pros: Good for items like an extra bag or jacket that you may not have room to pack into your main bag.
The cons: Whilst I didn’t have to buy anything from duty free, I have noticed that bags haven’t been left out on subsequent trips through airports. So it may cost you to do this hack the first time. Also, whilst many say this hack works for them, a couple of people have told me that airline staff have asked to peek inside their bag. So my top tip is that if you have bought anything from duty free, lay that on top! Lastly, check that your airline allows you to take duty free on board in this way.
Would I do this hack again? If I was planning on purchasing something from duty free or had a carrier bag already, I might do yes! However, I’d only pack a few low cost clothing items in their own packing cube at the bottom just in case anything goes awry.
The Fishing Vest Packing Hack
The hack: Stop worrying about your bag being too big and simply pack your belongings… into your pockets! And in searching for a piece of clothing that had this, I discovered a fishing vest.
The vest: I bought my fishing vest from Amazon for £10.99. If you want one for yourself, I recommend checking other sellers. Many people sell them and the prices change constantly. The vest had 15 pockets, including a huge pocket at the back which is big enough for a laptop!
The trip: An easyJet flight to Lisbon where the free baggage allowance was a ‘small cabin bag’ measuring 45 x 36 x 20 cm.
At security: The vest works just like any other jacket. You take it off, place it in the tray – taking out any liquids or electronics – and let it go through the scanner.
Before the flight: I put my vest on over my coat (it was almost a perfect match on colour and made it look like I was wearing a coat with huge pockets!). You could wear it underneath a bulky coat too.
What extras did I pack: I packed my passport, a bikini, some deodorant, a bikini, a portable speaker, some playing cards and my laptop into the vest. I could have fitted a lot more in there!
At the gate: Not a word said – I sailed through.
The pros: The best thing about this tip is that it’s pretty legit. There’s absolutely nothing that says you can’t use your coat or jacket in this way and the pockets are really handy at sectioning things off! Plus, once on board, it was easy enough to zip off and place in the bins above (once everyone else had packed their cases in, of course!).
The cons: It’s pretty bulky and depending on what you pack, could get quite heavy. Also, if wanted to pack your laptop in the back I would definitely recommend putting it in a padded sleeve first. Mine held fine but I was taking very tentative steps!! The other con is that it does cost to buy this but you could easily make it worthwhile if you used it a lot.
Would I do this hack again? Yes! Now that I have it, I think it’s a good hack. However I’d probably only do it if I was planning on wearing my blue jacket of the same colour again. I think that worked really well.
The Big Bra Packing Hack
The hack: It’s exactly what it sounds like – you wear a big bra, fill it with extra items, and then wear a top over it. Bish, bash, bosh.
The bra: With no big bras at my disposal, I had to go and buy one. I settled for a D cup from H&M’s sale at the grand price of €5.
The trip: A Wizz Air flight from Lisbon to London where I was only allowed one piece of luggage that measures 40 x 30 x 20 cm.
At security: I did not wear the bra going through security. Whilst technically it wouldn’t go off if you only packed it full of clothing – and I was not smuggling in anything illegal! I wasn’t ready to have an embarrassing pat down should I get pulled to one side!!
Before the flight: I went to the toilets, put on the bra above my top and got packing! I then buttoned my shirt over the top.
What extras did I pack: My fishing vest from the previous hack (!!), my unused gym kit and my bikini.
At the gate: Stood in line, I felt absolutely ridiculous but the truth is, it probably didn’t look too abnormal and so I once again got through, no questions asked.
The pros: It worked and it gave us a good laugh.
The cons: You can’t pack much in without making yourself look suspect. Also, you’re potentially stuck with wads of clothing strapped to your body for the whole flight or until go to the loo! That and it will only work for us small boobed folk. So, if you present as a bloke, you may have a harder time avoiding suspicion.
Would I do this hack again? No, it’s ridiculous and the pay off isn’t big enough. Plus I spent €5 on a bra I won’t use again. However, it was worth it to see James’ face when I came out of the loos!
If you’re after a card that doesn’t charge you for spending abroad and taking out money at ATMs, here’s my pick of the best debit and prepaid travel cards to use when going on holiday.