Travelling tips for fellow Ladies (& Gents)

Even though 52% of the UK have forced Britain to leave the EU, all British citizens and British passport holders are still part of the European Union until the UK Government gets their act together and declares an official exit date… which could be years away. British citizens can continue to enjoy freedom of movement across the EU on their British passports and take advance of EU rights and regulations until the UK officially leaves. Nothing as yet has changed.

Some of the travelling agreements discussed below will eventually have to be renegotiated between the UK and the EU as a result of ‘brexit’, but until they are this page is as up to date as it possibly can be on present agreements (June 2016).

…and for the record, I voted to stay in the EU.

A travel essential
If you have flown anywhere in Europe over the past few years with only hand luggage accompanying you onto the plane, then you will know all about the dilemma of trying to stuff as many 100ml toiletry bottles into a clear 20cm x 20cm resealable bag.

Some department stores and pharmacies now sell clear plastic resealable 20cm x 20cm cosmetic style cases purposely designed for taking liquid-based products in hand luggage through airport security. Most claim that these cases are accepted by all airports worldwide, but some airport security officers can reject them on a whim, so to avoid such a situation I prefer using disposable freezer bags instead.

Resealable freezer bags, available from all major supermarkets (and occasionally at airport security), are one of the best travelling essentials you can have in your hand luggage. As well as being able to take liquid-based products through airport security in them – only one 20cm x 20cm bag per passenger – use them for carrying sandwiches/nibbles when sight-seeing, put dirty underwear into them to prevent soiling your suitcase, or place your damp swimwear into one when it’s time to repack and return home. They are immensely versatile, take up very little room in your hand luggage, and are relatively cheap to buy. Take as many of them with you abroad as you can in as many sizes as you can… but remember only one clear 20cm x 20cm sized resealable freezer bag (usually the small ones) can be presented at airport security with your liquid-based products in it.

Resealable freezer bags. A travelling essential. The small ones are usually the right size for the 20 cm x 20 cm bag required to carry liquid based products through airport security

Resealable freezer bags. A travelling essential. The small ones are usually the right size for the 20 cm x 20 cm bag required to carry liquid based products through airport security

Packing that freezer bag
If you are flying from any of the major London airports with hand luggage, then only pack your most expensive toiletries/cosmetics you just can’t live without into that little resealable bag in no more than 100ml bottles. Leave the cheap deodorant, supermarket toothpaste and even the sun tan lotion behind. Don’t waste time and energy trying to find the latter products in 100ml bottles nor try filling 100ml bottles with them before cramming them all into your already heaving resealable bag, because as soon as you have passed through airport security you are free to buy any liquid-based product available in the departures lounge in whatever size bottle you can find, and take them on to the plane with you. There are small branches of Boots the Chemist in the departures lounges at Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, London City and of course Heathrow selling the well known street brands in deodorants, creams, toothpastes and of course sun tan lotion.

Smaller UK airports may only have Duty Free shops in their departures lounges, but most airports have their own websites now detailing their services and shops so you can always check beforehand if there is a branch of Boots or equivalent to stock up in. The products may cost a little more in the departures lounge than from the high street, but I would argue it’s worth paying the price rather than trying to survive on a sun-kissed beach for a fortnight on only the 100ml of sun tan lotion you got through Security.

Unfortunately, I have rarely come across a Boots the Chemist or equivalent in any of the mainland European airports I have flown out of, so you may not be able to stock up as easily, or indeed at all in mainland European airport departures lounges. If so, then pack that 20cm x 20cm resealable bag wisely.

Security will not allow you through with a bottle that holds more than 100ml even if there is only 100ml of liquid or less left inside the bottle. Each bottle taken in the 20cm x 20cm resealable bag has to be no more than 100ml in volume.

Even if you only have one bottle of liquid product in the resealable bag and nothing else, that bottle still has to be 100ml or less.

You can take more than 100ml of the same liquid product with you in the freezer bag, but the liquid has to be distributed across a number of bottles holding no more than 100ml each. Madness? Yes, but those are the rules.

The maximum amount of liquid you can take through airport security in a freezer bag is one litre. If anyone has been able to fit more than ten x 100ml bottles of liquid into a 20 cm x 20 cm freezer bag without it bursting, please do let me know so I can congratulate you.

Even if you only need to travel with one bottle of liquid in your hand luggage, it still has to be 100ml or less in volume. This bottle with a volume of 200ml will not be accepted

Even if you only need to travel with one bottle of liquid in your hand luggage, it still has to be 100ml or less in volume. This bottle with a volume of 200ml will not be accepted

A total of 200ml of liquid held across a number of bottles each 100ml or less in volume. This is acceptable

A total of 200ml of liquid held across a number of bottles each 100ml or less in volume. This is acceptable

Even though there is only 100ml of liquid in this bottle, the bottle itself is 200ml in volume and will not be accepted. The bottle must be no more than 100ml in volume regardless of how much liquid is inside it

Even though there is only 100ml of liquid in this bottle, the bottle itself is 200ml in volume and will not be accepted. The bottle must be no more than 100ml in volume regardless of how much liquid is inside it

Essential prescription liquid medicines, essential liquid dietary products and baby products (only if taking a baby on board with you) can be in larger than 100ml bottles and be put in a separate resealable bag to your other liquid-based products, but they must be presented separately at Security. You may be asked to sample the contents before being allowed through with them or show proof e.g. a doctor’s certificate, that you require the prescription.

Toiletry bottles from The Body Shop are usually 100ml so always keep and reuse them for your trips. Otherwise, take the empty bottles of shampoo and shower gel most hotels leave in your bathroom home with you and reuse them on your next trip as they are usually around 50-100ml in volume. If you are taking the hotel bottles home with you full, then they will have to go into the resealable bag with your other liquid-based products.

The resealable bag must be transparent but the bottles inside it do not. I’ve always travelled with opaque bottles and I haven’t experienced any problems with them at security.

Perfumes, deodorant sprays, hairspray, shaving foam and liquid make-up like foundation must go into the resealable bag as well, in 100ml bottles/spray-cans or less. Technically powder make-up like blusher and shine-control compacts are not liquid-based so do not have to go into the resealable bag and can stay in your hand luggage. I’ve often packed mine in my hand luggage and security have not stopped me from doing so. You may have a problem with more oil based products like eye make-up and lip-stick though, so if in doubt either put it in the resealable bag or leave it at home.

Wet wipes do not have to go into the resealable bag. They can stay in your hand luggage.

Empty, dry bottles in whatever size can be taken separately in your hand luggage, but security may still want to check the bottles to be sure they are liquid-free. Leave such bottles out of your luggage and present them to security before putting anything through the X-ray machines to save further searches being made through your luggage.

I’m sure it goes without saying to leave the cotton buds, pads, make-up brushes, eyelash curlers etc. out of that resealable bag. Make every millimetre of that bag count as you are only allowed one per passenger.

Leave the tweezers, scissors and razors out of your hand luggage altogether as these may be classed as weapons and will be confiscated at security. You may be able to buy some disposable razors in UK departures lounges.

Waxing strips are fine to take in your hand luggage, but waxing creams will have to go into the resealable bag and be presented in tubes/containers that are no more than 100ml in volume.

Please, please, please do not be tempted to try and smuggle through an extra bottle of sun tan lotion or a bottle of water in your hand luggage in the hope it will not be noticed, even if it is less than 100ml in volume. If it is not presented in the resealable 20cm x 20cm bag and the X-ray machines spot it in your hand luggage – and they will spot it – Security will confiscate it and make further checks through your luggage, delaying you and everyone else behind you. On a recent trip to Rome I almost missed my flight when my bag was randomly selected and set aside by Security for a routine search, yet I still had to wait in line for over forty minutes as I watched suitcase after suitcase before me being ramsacked by security officers after large bottles of sun tan lotion were found in every single one of those cases by the X-ray machines.

On your way home, don’t forget to throw away anything you haven’t used up that’s not in a 100ml bottle or less before reaching the airport. There may only be a few drops of toner left at the bottom of the bottle, but if that vessel is more than 100ml in size, it will be taken from you and further checks through your luggage will be made.

More on these restrictions can be found on the website here.

One other option is to just ditch the resealable bag, put everything you need in your suitcase in whatever size bottle you desire and simply check the suitcase in. Your fare will cost significantly more if checking in that suitcase but it may save a lot of stress. I however hate checking luggage in so I refill my 100ml bottles and repack my 20cm x 20cm freezer bag as soon as I return home from a trip so it is ready to just throw into my hand luggage the night before my next holiday.

My freezer bag typically looks like this. If I am only travelling for one or two nights I will bring a small tube of toothpaste with me. For longer trips from a UK airport I will always buy a large tube of toothpaste and a large bottle of suntan lotion from Boots in the departures lounge

My freezer bag typically looks like this. If I am only travelling for one or two nights I will bring a small tube of toothpaste with me. For longer trips from a UK airport I will always buy a large tube of toothpaste and a large bottle of suntan lotion from Boots in the departures lounge

Bringing liquids onto the Eurostar
There are no restrictions on the volume of liquid you can bring in your hand luggage when boarding the Eurostar. You do not have to restrict yourself to 100ml bottles or less and do not have to present your liquid-based products in a 20 cm x 20 cm clear bag at security.

Charge it up and buy a plug adaptor (or three)
Since July 2014 all battery-based electronic devices including cameras, travel irons and electrical shavers taken on board a flight must hold enough charge on arrival at security to be able to be switched on and off for inspection, otherwise they could be confiscated and you may not even be allowed on the flight. So, pack your chargers and invest in an adaptor plug (see below)

More information on this can be found on the website here.

Plug Adaptors – UK, European and Swiss
You may be well aware that mainland Europe uses two-round-pin plugs compared to the UK’s three-square-pin ones. But did you know that Switzerland uses a separate three-round-pin plug very different to the other two?

European (top left), Swiss (top right) and UK (bottom) plug adaptors. Very useful to have and fairly cheap to buy

European (top left), Swiss (top right) and UK (bottom) plug adaptors. Very useful to have and fairly cheap to buy

European-to-UK and UK-to-European plug adaptors are fairly easy and cheap to buy. Large department stores, electrical stores, online travel sites and airport departure lounges should sell them for a few Euros/Pounds and are well worth investing in one.

The Swiss adaptor however is a little more difficult to find outside Switzerland. Of course, you will not have any need for one unless travelling to Switzerland and once inside the country they can be picked up easily from Swiss airports or large Swiss department/electrical stores like the Co-op for around 5 CHF (4 Euros/£3). If however you forget to pick one up whilst passing through the arrivals lounge or do not have the chance to go Swiss shopping, then hopefully your hotel should be able to supply you with one. Almost all are European-to-Swiss adaptors so for UK plugs use your UK-to-European adaptor first then slot this into your European-to-Swiss adaptor. It will make a huge plug, but one that will charge up your devices successfully.

A Swiss plug adaptor

A Swiss plug adaptor

Almost all Swiss plug adaptors convert European plugs only, so slot your UK plug into your UK-to-European plug adaptor then slot that into your European-to-Swiss adaptor

Almost all Swiss plug adaptors convert European plugs only, so slot your UK plug into your UK-to-European plug adaptor then slot that into your European-to-Swiss adaptor



Bringing food and drink on to the plane
There are no restrictions on taking food on to the plane with you (apart from durian fruit), so you are allowed to buy a snack in the departures lounge and take it on board. If you really want to save the pennies why not make a sandwich or two before you leave, throw a piece of fruit and/or a packet of crisps into your bag and take it all through security rather than buying the overpriced (and arguably not very appetising) offerings on the plane.

Drinks however are more problematic. Even drinking-water falls under the 100ml bottle limit and must be put in the freezer bag if taken through Security. But there is no reason why you can’t buy a larger bottle in the departures lounge beyond and take it on board. Although it will be a little more expensive than on the high street, it will probably still be much cheaper than buying a bottle on board.

If you are part of the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland (see below with regards to the UK), you are entitled to reduced-cost or even free basic state healthcare abroad in other EEC countries and Switzerland as long as you have an European Health Insurance Card. Applying for an EHIC is straightforward online and is absolutely free so ignore websites that offer the application service for a small fee. The card is valid for a number of years from the day of application and usually take 2-3 weeks to process.

Do not be tempted to treat this card as an alternative to travel insurance. It is only an accompaniment. If you are unlucky enough to need serious healthcare whilst abroad e.g. treatment for a broken leg, the EHIC will not cover all if any of the potential treatment costs and certainly will not help with repatriation costs, so get comprehensive travel insurance before you depart as well.

Now that the UK has decided to leave the EU (boo!), the UK will have to renegotiate its agreement with the EU regarding healthcare for UK citizens travelling in mainland Europe. However, until the UK officially leaves the EU – which could take years – theoretically the EHIC is still valid for UK travellers to use. We are still in the EU and can enjoy EU rights until the official ‘brexit’ date is set.

British citizens who have a National Insurance or NHS number can apply for a card from the website here. Otherwise, a quick Google search will point you to the right EHIC Government webpage for your residential country. Remember: ignore those sites that charge a fee for this card. Applications are free regardless of your country of origin.

Handy tip for reducing creases
Wrap your pile of packed clothes in tissue paper. Even just one sheet over the top of the pile (and tucked in at the sides) will significantly reduce creasing. Wrap silks separately.

Essentials to have with you at all times
 – A light cardigan, pashmina shawl or scarf that can easily be carried in your handbag for covering over your shoulders if you plan to explore places of worship. Catholic strongholds like Italy and Spain will not allow women into their churches with bare shoulders on show (shorts can sometimes be a no-no as well). I once saw a woman with spaghetti straps have a tantrum on the steps of St Peter’s at the Vatican when turned away after queuing up for the best part of an hour to get inside. Some of the major tourist places of worship now like St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, sell horrid blue paper ponchos to sleeveless visitors for around €1 a piece which will certainly not win any fashion contests, but will make you modest enough to cross the Divine threshold.

A small pack of travel tissues, preferably wet wipes. I was once visiting a flower garden half way up a mountain along the shores of stunning Lake Maggiore in Italy when the call of nature whispered in my ear. I followed the signs to the public loo, only to find a corrugated composting hut with literally a hole dug into the ground and wooden planks along either side of it with footprint marks painted on them indicating how I should ‘position’ myself. There was no sink in there either so I was very pleased I had packed those wet wipes into my bag earlier that day.

A second form of ID other than your passport. Bring your driving licence/ID card with you in your bag at all times, and leave your passport in your hotel room’s safety deposit box. You may need ID to gain access to certain public places or to buy alcohol if you’re lucky enough to still look youthful (alas, those days are gone for me now). In some countries it is a requirement to carry a form of ID with you at all times. If you’re unlucky enough to lose your driving licence, or your bag is snatched with it inside, at least you will still be able to get home if your passport is safe at the hotel. A driving licence is also much cheaper and easier to replace than a passport. In 2015 it cost around £20 to replace a driving licence in the UK, but at least £90 (and laborious forms to fill in and get counter-signed) to replace a passport.

– A plastic bag or foldaway bag for any food purchases you may make. Most stores in Europe will charge a few pence for a plastic bag, but some shops may not offer carrier bags at all. I was once told off in a supermarket in Ireland for not having brought my own bag with me and a lot of fuss was made to locate a bag for me to carry my groceries in. For extra personal safety, try to make sure your own carrier bags are not branded with a typically British name like “Morrisons” or “M&S” on them so you don’t stand out like a sore thumb – or a tourist – amongst the locals.

An umbrella preferably a compact one that will fit neatly into your handbag.

A bottle of water, a banana (or whatever fruit takes your fancy), and some nibbles. The proprietor may frown upon it, but if breakfast is part of your hotel deal then you’ve paid for access to their breakfast buffet so why not top your water bottle up and take an apple away with you for later?

Booking the hotel
I know it’s obvious, but do your research. When picking a hotel there’s nothing like fellow travellers’ experiences and honest opinions to help you decide which is the best one to stay at. Tripadvisor is superb for this, and is my pre-travel bible (they have no idea I have said this and they have no idea who I am, so rest assured dear reader I am not gaining anything at your expense for sending you to their website).

As well as choosing the best hotel, again these may seem obvious tips but my advice especially to ladies travelling alone is to choose a hotel that:

isnt near the main connection train station, especially in cities. It may seem convenient to be a stone’s throw away from your main transport connection to/from the airport, but larger city stations like e.g. King’s Cross in London, often attract the most unsavoury characters at night to say the least. Your chosen hotel may be the best in town but you don’t want to have to walk past drug dealers and pimps to get back to it at night.

– but is within walking distance of a metro stop/bus stop/tram stop so you don’t have to walk miles or pay out to taxis every time you need to leave and return to your hotel.

– is near a market/supermarket. I always carry nibbles with me during the day because, as I said earlier you don’t know where you might be when hunger and thirst strikes. You may be miles from a restaurant, or find yourself in the perfect spot for a nice picnic. Also, it saves money which helps if you’re on a budget, you have a fair idea on the quality of the food you have bought as you picked/prepared it yourself, and you have peace of mind knowing who exactly made that sandwich (unless of course you bought the supermarket’s own ready-made ones).

offers rooms with a safe or access to a safety deposit box and put your passport into it! It’s unlucky to lose your camera or MP3 when on holiday, but it will be an absolute nightmare if you lose your passport.

offers rooms with a minibar not to enjoy the contents of the minibar (unless money is no object) but to use the minibar as a fridge for your own goods, packed lunches and bottles of water.

offers free internet access. Nowadays most hotels do offer wi-fi, but surprisingly some still charge customers for the privilege. I am finding wi-fi more and more essential on every trip, so I wouldn’t even consider a hotel now that charges to use their wi-fi. During my last night in Madrid back in 2012 and unbeknownst to me until that last night, a country-wide general strike had been called the following day affecting all public transport and flights into and out of Spain (see Madrid and how to survive a Spanish General Strike). I was extremely grateful for the free and unlimited internet access my hotel offered me to find out how on earth I was going to get to the airport, and whether the airport would even be open.

Know a few key words in the local language
Your accent and pronunciation may be terrible, but most locals will appreciate a ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ in their own language, even if their English is as good as yours. Speaking very loudly and slowly in English is just patronising, so don’t be surprised if the customer service you receive in response is not what you were hoping for.

Languages were not my strongest nor fondest subjects at school, but having travelled a fair bit across Europe over the past decade I have developed a real desire and determination to try again and learn some basic Italian, French, German and Spanish. Of course, as soon as I try to practice what I have learnt in real situations with real mainland European people, my mind goes blank or I’ll end up saying something ridiculous like “can I leave my bag here until yesterday?” As a result, I always finish my sentences with a sweet, self-deprecating smile which almost always wins my listeners over … before they usually reply back to me in perfect English.

Salutations, yes/no and please/thanks are usually very easy to learn, if not known already. I like to learn the additional words “I would like …” and “this” in other languages also as they are immensely useful in all kinds of situations when accompanied by a polite finger point to my desired produce.

If however you have the time and inclination to learn some more useful phrases like “where is the bus stop?” I have had some satisfying success with the Teach Yourself series by Elisabeth Smith (the link is to Amazon. I have never met Ms Smith in my life and I am not making any money from this recommendation, nor by sending anyone to Amazon – honest). The scenario of Elisabeth meeting Andy (a self-proclaimed foreign-language-aphobe) on a plane and trying to teach him fifty useful words during the flight (usually 70 minutes) may leave the listener cringing at times, but it is amazing how quickly one can pick up these words and string them into useful sentences in such a short amount of time. (I’ve had to play the CD in stages over a period much longer than a day to truly feel confident I had learnt everything on the CD, but then everyone is different).

If you are looking for a more advanced language course so you can feel confident in using pronouns, tenses, verbs etc., and you have a lot more time to reach your goal, then I can not recommend and praise enough (without any financial gain procured as a result) the 12-CD courses devised and taught by Paul Noble (again the link is to Amazon where his courses can be bought from, and I am not making any money from featuring this link here). These courses in Italian, French, German and Spanish, produced by Collins are the most effective language courses I have ever come across. In a separate DVD that accompanies the course, the endearing and very intelligent Mr Noble explains his unique method of teaching (to not get bogged down with grammatical rules but to teach language more naturally and in a more simplistic order). He also modestly admits that when he tried to learn languages at school he didn’t even know what a verb was. You will be amazed how effective the method is and how your confidence will grow in speaking the language and constructing your own sentences using it.

Getting the best currency rates
Of course you will need some money with you in the currency of the country you are visiting, so if you need to change some cash, I would avoid using high-street banks, travel agents and the Post Office to do so, and certainly don’t wait until you reach the airport where their rates are horrendously lower than the market rate. Some banks and travel agents will profess to being commission-free, but they will probably give you a rate several Euros/Pounds/Dollars lower than the daily market rate making a nice profit for themselves at your expense.

My advice is to first go online and find out what the day’s market rate is for the currency you’re after. It’s actually very easy to find. So e.g. if you’re changing Sterling into Euros, simply type into Google Search “pound euro exchange rate” and you should get the daily rate without even needing to click on any of the links Google offers you. Then shop around amongst the local independent Bureau de Changes (if you have any near you) for a rate close to this. If you find a place offering a rate that’s around e.g two Euros less than the daily rate – and it’s commission free! – then that’s a great deal.

If you don’t have any independent Bureau de Changes near you then the banks and the Post Office are your only options, but again shop around amongst them for the best deal. Don’t be afraid to even ask for a better rate if they do seem to be several Euros/Pounds lower than the daily rate. It’s always worth a try.

If you haven’t got one already (and are not travelling for a least another five-six weeks) it’s worth shopping around for a credit card that offers a good exchange rate and the lowest charges for using it abroad. Don’t ever use a credit card to withdraw money abroad unless you are absolutely desperate, otherwise you will find you will be charged half as much again for the privilege. Use credit cards for purchases when cash is not a viable option. offers weekly, updated, impartial advice on the best credit cards to use abroad and the fees that come with them.

Hotels may ask for a credit card to hold your reservation when you initially book a room with them, but don’t feel obliged to then settle your bill with the same credit card. Credit card details are only held as a guarantee by the hotel (should you not turn up) and they will not charge anything on your card unless you give them permission to (or you run off with one of their bath robes). You can pay with cash if you prefer to.

The flight
I have no problem using low cost airlines as long as they fly me to my desired destination within 40-45 minutes journey by train/bus to the city centre. Again, before you book just double check exactly where that airport is in relation to your final destination. Ryanair flies into the Swedish airport of Vasteras, which is also known as ‘Stockholm Vasteras’ even though it is over 100km from the Swedish Capital, and takes nearly an hour and a half by bus to get to from central Stockholm. What you may have saved on your low cost flight could all end up going on the fare for your taxi from the airport to your hotel, so double check before you book.

Also, check before even booking with a low cost airline what their restrictions are on the number, size and weight of hand luggage allowed to be taken onto their aircraft. You will be surprised how much they differ. Some airlines have the most ridiculously low weight threshold for hand luggage. I once flew with a low cost airline that strictly only allowed a maximum of EIGHT kilograms to be taken in hand luggage per passenger. As the flight was internal and only forty-five minutes long, I really didn’t want to check my hand luggage in but I knew I had more than eight kilograms in my bag. Even though it was a sweltering hot summer’s day, I took a cardigan and my jacket out of my bag and threw them on (there is no limit on how much you can wear when boarding a flight), then filled my pockets with as much as I could without looking too obvious: purse, mobile, keys, camera, guide book etc. I approached the check-in desk and furtively put my hand luggage on the scales. I don’t know how I was able to suppress my smugness and maybe the weight of my heaving pockets prevented me from punching the air triumphantly when the scales read back 7.9 kilograms! The check-in clerk seemed rather peeved as she handed me my boarding card and sent me – with hand luggage in tow – on my way to the gate.

Even if you desperately want to be one of the first off the aeroplane on landing, I think “Priority” booking on low-cost airlines is a complete waste of money (and a bit of a cheek by the airlines), especially if you’re travelling on your own. Save your pennies, and you will almost always find a single seat close to the front of the aeroplane regardless if you get on first or last. You could always risk going right to the back of the aircraft to get a seat near the back door, but depending on how busy/large the arrival airport is, that exit may not always be available on landing.

I always take the aisle seat. Seeing clouds close up out of the window is a wonderful sight indeed, but seeing the horizon bob up and down contributes to air sickness and I am prone to feeling a bit dizzy if I catch sight of the world outside during descent. Also, if you need the loo you don’t have to disturb the people sitting beside you to get by if you’re on the aisle seat. When I first flew to Rome and was still fairly new to my solo travels, I placed myself by the window only to have two rather large nuns come along and occupy the two seats beside me. As soon as the flight took off they both fell asleep for the whole two hours of flight and I was trapped in my seat. My bladder was so full on landing I could barely walk off the aircraft!

All London airports have plenty of eateries and sandwich bars in their departure lounges, so if you haven’t brought something from home (as said earlier, food is allowed through security in hand luggage as long as it is not liquid-based), buy something to eat and drink for the flight before you head for the gate. It will be much cheaper (if flying on a low cost airline who charges for snacks on board) and arguably more appetising than the fare cabin-crew will offer you during the flight.

In the days of only allowing one piece of hand-luggage per passenger onto their aircraft, I once stood in line to board a Ryanair flight with my suitcase and a sandwich bought from the departures lounge in a paper-bag. The cabin crew assistant insisted that I couldn’t bring the paper bag onto the aeroplane unless I put it in my suitcase, as it was seen as a second piece of luggage. Not wanting to put smelly food into my suitcase I asked her cheekily would it be acceptable if I just held the sandwich in my hand and threw the paper bag away. Thinking she would just ignore my sarcasm, to my surprise she actually said it was acceptable, and so that’s what I did.

I hope what I have said above has helped you in some way and contributes to you having a very pleasant, safe and enjoyable trip.


19 Responses to Travelling tips for fellow Ladies (& Gents)

  1. Josephine says:

    Hi perfect holiday tips will be definitely be using the freezer bags tips.

  2. Emma says:

    Really helpful article! Thanks!

  3. Lynn says:

    Really good advice

  4. Jo W says:

    Great bits of advice. Am flying to Dublin with hand luggage, so great tips! Thank you.

  5. GM says:

    Really helpful travel tips especially as I am travelling with hand luggage only for the first time. Thanks

  6. Jade says:

    Hi there,

    Your website is so informative, thank you for sharing tips

    Quick question, are you allowed to bring travel size deodorants (that you can purchase in boots) and tooth paste in your plastic clear bag for hand luggage ?

    TLT’s reply: Yes! Both are classed as liquids, so as long as they are in containers/tubes no more than 100ml and presented in your clear plastic bag, then you should have no problem taking them through airport security. x

  7. Lisa brooks says:

    Im so glad i came across this! Thank god i did, coz im 36 and going abroad for the first time with my child and partner, i didnt have a clue! I will note down all info, as im a worry wart anyway, you have certainly helped! X

  8. Jan says:

    Great post! Your comment about the sandwich and Ryanair has prompted a question I can’t seem to find the answer for. I’m travelling this summer to Portugal for a week with hand luggage only and am aiming to buy sun cream, after sun and a sandwich after I go through security. Do I have to fit these items into my hand luggage before boarding the plane?

    TLT’s reply: Thank you so much for contacting me and for your kind comment about my travel post.

    In answer to your question… thankfully, Ryanair have recently changed their policy on the number of bags you can carry into the cabin: now it is a small suitcase, plus an additional small handbag or hold-all that must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. So, if you are just carrying a small suitcase with you, then technically you could carry your purchased sun cream bottles and sandwich in a plastic bag which will then be classed as your second piece of hand luggage. This also goes for any purchased Duty Free.

    If however you will already be carrying a suitcase and handbag on board with you and there is no room to put your sun creams and sandwich into either, there is another way: in my experience, passengers are allowed to carry as much in their pockets as they are able to fit into them. In addition, the weight you carry on your person is not included as part of the maximum amount of weight you are allowed to carry in your hand luggage, so fill your pockets after you’ve been through security. You might come across a cabin crew member who might give you a funny look, but you do have the right to carry items in your pockets, as long as they are not bulging or spilling over.

    It is wise to wait until you get to the departures lounge to buy your sun creams, especially going to Portugal in the Summer, so you can carry a bottle bigger than 100ml with you on board. It will cost a bit more but well worth it. Any UK airport should have a small branch of Boots in their departures lounge, but if you are flying from a small UK airport, I would just double check first via their website to be certain they have one so you are not left disappointed.

    Have a wonderful time in Portugal. It’s a beautiful country. TLT x

  9. Lauren says:

    Can makeup brushes be packed in hand luggage, if they are clean?

    TLT’s reply: yes you can, even if they are dirty x

  10. girley says:

    your post is very helpful. thank you

  11. Sylvia says:

    Fab advice even though have hold baggage as well; couldn’t find out about sandwiches and security or lots of other things too, so thank you

  12. Shannon says:

    Does liquids have to be put in clear bags even tho there going in your suitcase rather then hand luggage?
    TLT’s reply:

    No. If you are checking your luggage in i.e. allowing it to go into cargo/the hold before you go through airport Security, you can put the liquids you have in that luggage into anything you like, in whatever sized bottle you like. You are ‘not’ restricted to 100ml bottles or freezer bags with checked-in luggage.

    It is only if you are bringing any liquids in the luggage you bring through Security and into the aircraft cabin with you that they must adhere to the 100ml bottles rule, and must be in a 20x20cm ‘clear’ freezer bag.

  13. janet says:

    I travel around 4 times a year all over with just a cabin bag, and a very small handbag that can fit in the side pocket of my cabin bag if needed. This year I did a Vietnam tour (yes it can be done with a cabin bag)! and then later a north Portugal week. Where I had my loyal transparent 20x20cm see thru zipped toilet bag declined, inside I had the basic toiletries and some sachets of mayo and tomato sauce (was staying in a villa) I was told by the most unfriendly airport guy at the scanners that it was because my bag was not like the flimsy resealable bags that they had. I told him as politely as I could muster that my zipped bag was resealable and more secure than the bag he was now trying to get all my belongings into which couldn’t be done, so I had some discarded… On top of that when I got to my destination the bag and a shower container had burst open from when it was squashed with other passenger bags on top of mine in the overhead locker… Im still going to use my loyal resealable bag again in 10 weeks time, but just hoping I don’t meet that miserable SOB man… So beware ladies..
    TLT’s reply: yes, even a see-through toiletry bag that claims to be “accepted at all airports” can be rejected by security staff even if it meets all the necessary requirements. My mother had the exact same experience as Janet had and was forced to transfer all her toiletries into a 20 cm x 20 cm freezer bag before being allowed to continue to the departures lounge. So, as Janet says, beware. To avoid any delay going through Security, it’s best to stick with a resealable see-through supermarket 20 x 20 cm freezer bag to carry your hand-luggage liquid-based products in.

  14. Anita says:

    Great advice especially about freezer bags. Are the freezer bags that havewhite blocks on and say name and date acceptable or do they have to be completely clear? Also can I just confirm you can buy full size sun cream and deoderant after you have been through security and put these into your hand luggage? Flying with Easy Jet. Thanks.
    TLT’s reply:
    – yes, the freezer bags with the white zip tying block and writing on them with name and date are acceptable, as long as they are 20cm by 20cm (usually the medium sized ones in supermarkets) and as long as most of the bag is clear enough to see the items inside then you shouldn’t have any problems at Security. Avoid the blue ones though. Stick with transparent.

    – yes, you can buy full size sun cream bottles and deodorant in the departures lounge if available to buy, once past Security. They can go into your hand luggage and they don’t have to go into the freezer bag. I often buy a 200ml bottle of suntan lotion from the small Boots in the various London airport lounges. Most if not all UK airports should have a small Boots past Security. Just remember to give/throw the bottles and cans away before you go through Security again on the way back after your holiday.

    – Easyjet are fine. The only thing with Easyjet is that they are a stickler for the one piece of hand luggage rule. So, if you do buy anything in Boots and they put everything in a plastic bag for you, either put the bag into your hand luggage before boarding, or put the items in your pockets if your luggage is too full.

  15. Alice says:

    Just to say that it’s good advice to get your own bags in advance. I had to squeeze our liquids into two bags provided by Stansted and although I admit I was trying to get a lot in (!) the bags were very difficult to close because the closures were so thin and kept coming apart, which was pretty stressful with Security breathing down my neck…

  16. Anna says:

    I am going this week to a wedding and I want to take my hair extensions with me but I am afraid they will set the alarm and I would hate to be forced to take them off. I am considering putting them in my hand luggage but then again, I don’t want the security checking them out in the open. What should I do?
    TLT’s reply:
    I’m sure your extensions will be fine to have in place. Just before you walk through the metal detector, tell the officer and if the detector does beep they can do a quick sweep with the hand held detector to confirm. Once they know that’s what’s causing the beep they will be happy and let you go. I can’t imagine they would demand you to take them out.

    I went through the detector last week and it beeped. The only metal I had left on me were four safety pins holding my dress guards in place under my arms. I told the officer and she was satisfied which was a relief as I didn’t fancy taking my top off in front of everyone to show her!

    How a lovely time at the wedding.

  17. CJ says:

    Hi! Thank you for your great tips. Just wanted to check can I take glass 400ml jar of chocolate spread in hold luggage? Or shall i split it into 4 x 100 mls for hand luggage. Am due to fly with Easyjet.

    Thank you!
    TLT’s reply:
    Mmm…..that’s an interesting one. Technically, chocolate spread a food not a liquid so you should be allowed to put it in your hand luggage. But, if it is a runny variety then Security might frown upon it.

    My advice would be to take it with you in the 400ml jar but to also take a small 100ml bottle of it as well in your freezer bag. When you get to Security, present the jar to them BEFORE you and your bags go through the x-ray machines and see what they say. Worse case scenario, if they say no at least you have 100ml to keep you going. If they are happy then you have an extra 100ml to treat yourself with, or you can chuck it there and then to give yourself some extra space in your freezer bag.

    Whatever you do, don’t leave the jar hidden in your bag and not point it out to them beforehand as the x-ray machines will pick it up and Security will then want to search your bag which will delay you unnecessarily.

    Do let me know how you get on and what Security allowed you to do… and have a great holiday.

  18. McKirsty says:

    Great article – I travel all the time but still found this such a thorough, comprehensive reminder. Thank you! I’ve been tripped up before by roll-on deodorant and lip balm – both liquids apparently. I’m going to chance it with some creamy eye crayons next time… I really agree with you about not bothering to faff around decanting all items, and to buy them post-security instead – particularly for shower gel, where if you’re travelling for more than a couple of days, 100ml won’t be enough anyway. I used to pick up these items in a supermarket in the destination country to avoid the premium prices in airport Boots – but given the post-Brexit exchange rate, think it will be a rip-off either way this time! :) xox

  19. Susan Andrews says:

    Thank you for all the detailed travel information you have provided. For me there is still some confusion regarding toiletries. I live in Brussels, Belgium and have traveled to Manchester, UK by air for one long weekend each month for the last year (12 times now). Leaving from the Brussels Airport (yes, the one that was bombed in March 2016) I board with a carry-on suitcase and a handbag. I have never been asked to place liquids and gels in a transparent zip bag. All toiletries are under the 100ml limit, inside a small black canvas bag, packed in my carry-on suitcase. Only on my return flight from Manchester to Brussels am I required to fit gels and liquids into the 20×20 cm transparent bag which the airport CLEARLY states through signage and free zip bags before reaching bins and security personnel. I departed from Dublin Airport (Ireland is an EU country, not UK) this week where the “transparent bag requirement” was being enforced. Walking to security without a clue that this was required, I saw no warning, no zip bags provided or conveniently stacked and no informational signs placed prior to arriving at the mad crush of security bins. I had assumed that the transparent bag was a UK requirement, not an EU requirement because of previous experience leaving Brussels, the capital of the EU. If indeed the EU operates as one entity how is that it feels like each airport’s security teams seem to abide by their own rules and idiosyncrasies? Such unnecessary stress.
    TLT’s reply

    Thank you very much for taking the time out to contact me and sharing your travel experiences.

    The 20 x 20 cm transparent resealable bag for liquids in containers no more than 100ml in volume when carried in hand luggage is a legel requirement to/from every European airport regardless of whether the country is in the EU or not, and as far as I understand it is a worldwide requirement also, certainly in the western world. Most airports I have travelled through in Europe are very clear about the requirements before entering Security with posters and videos galore. Some even have assistants exuberantly waving little transparent bags under your nose as you pass them by. Yet, like yourself I have passed through the odd airport where there is little or even nothing displayed about the requirements on approach to Security. I have seen other airports trying to cash in on the requirements by charging for the bags (€2 in one case!). One person told me that whilst travelling through Asia she was forced to use the airport supplied bag which she was made to pay for even though the bag she already had her items in was exactly according to the requirements and had been passed by other airport security teams previously and since.

    I have also experienced one security guard who didn’t seem to know the rules at all and let my gentleman friend through with a huge 250ml bottle of shower gel in a freezer bag (it was the only container of liquid he had as he travels light on the rare occasion he does travel abroad). I was rather vexed that he was allowed through with it after insisting beforehand that he definitely wouldn’t be allowed through with it and that it would be conviscated. Maybe the security guard heard my nagging and felt my hen-pecked partner deserved a break. Joking aside, it was a clear breach of the rules and only adds to the confusion of what is and what isn’t allowed through… and my partner is still not convinced the security guard was wrong!

    I cannot explain why your Belgian airport seems so slack on the matter particularly after the various terrorist attacks the country has faced these past couple of years. I totally agree with you that there should be consistency and clarity throughout the aviation world about this just to avoid confusion and further stress over what is already a nuisance to adhere to, to say the least.

    As I detailed in my post, as soon as I return from a trip I refill all my containers and repack my freezer bag so that it is ready to just throw into the case for the next trip. Even though it is not a requirement, I still take my packed freezer bag with me on the Eurostar and even whilst travelling within England. It has replaced my wash bag!

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