Luggage packing tips: How to travel light, without checked bags

Hand luggage only: how to pack for any trip

Beat the queues and the airline charges: travel writer Tim Richards shows you his carry-on bag packing secrets.

My daypack is a Tardis. A year ago, I travelled from Australia to Florida and the Caribbean carrying all I needed in my dimensionally transcendental daypack – thus transforming my travelling life. Sure, I was heading to warm places where few layers are needed but I've travelled light ever since. It's liberating beyond belief.

Previously, I was a last-minute packer – and when you're throwing things into a suitcase in a hurry, in a mad scramble to make it to the airport on time, you're not thinking about multi-purpose ensembles.

My core clothing item these days is a pair of lightweight black trousers, shirred at the ankle. They can be dressed up or down, they do for day or night, they cope with spills, and dry quickly after laundering in a hotel hand basin.

What else makes it into my teeny-tiny bag? A T-shirt, sleeveless top, a dress that never wrinkles, jacket, underwear, socks, a second pair of shoes, the world's comfiest tracky dacks (United Airlines' dark grey biz-class pyjamas), swimmers, a scarf that doubles as a shawl, umbrella and regular-sized toiletries bag.

As I'm usually travelling for work, I'll add a laptop, camera, chargers, power bank, adaptor and an old-fashioned paper notebook. I tuck an empty water bottle into a side pocket (to refill after security so I can take sleep aids whenever I want on the plane), clip a neck pillow onto the bag's handle, shrug my way into a puffer jacket if I'm bound for chilly climes and – voila – that's the main part done.

In my handbag (recent travel companions joke that I'll soon whittle this art to handbag-only), I pop the passport and mobile, earphones and earplugs, three ways to access cash (a recent hacking has made me extra cautious) and all the eyewear. Things I no longer pack include novels, after carrying way too many around the world and not even cracking the first page.

No checked luggage means you bounce off the plane and straight out of the airport, skipping not only the wait at the baggage carousel but any worries about lost luggage.

Carry-on-only also means you avoid paying the checked baggage fees charged by low-cost carriers and some other airlines (particularly those in the United States). And I'm sure my lack of luggage helped me board an earlier flight last year when my scheduled Houston-Los Angeles flight ran late, threatening my connection back to Australia.

The only downside is you can't bring home that exotic bottle of wine discovered on your travels. That hurt when I was in Germany this year – but not enough to make me change my light-arted ways.