Forget overweight, overstuffed carry-on luggage - we've squeezed in everything you need on a long-haul flight for under $20.

With Aussie airlines Jetstar and Qantas announcing mandatory weigh-ins for hand luggage this year and hefty fines for those found to be over 10kg - packing the perfect carry-on is becoming increasingly difficult.

Weighing up what you need against the weight limits, space for manoeuvre is increasingly tight. Especially for those of us flying Economy.

In the search for more wriggle-room around the carry-on limits travel companies such as SCOTTeVEST have begun creating novelty travel-coats with near bottomless amount of storage pockets.

Carry-on: Travel companies have seen a space for travel coats with extra storage space. Photo / Supplied,
Carry-on: Travel companies have seen a space for travel coats with extra storage space. Photo / Supplied,

However, retailing at around US$150 these aren't your casual coach-class investment.

To for a less invested solution that won't leave you out of pocket and dressed in a trench coat Tardis, we've come up with a low-cost solution for the essential carry-on flight survival kit.

Here's our check list to coming in under weight and under budget:

The bag

Leave the hard-shell at home. The appeal of a wheelie bag is obvious when tracking trough an airport concourse– but you'll find it stays useless and abandoned the moment you check into a hotel. Backpacks on the other hand are always ready to go. They stow easily under the seat in front and are ready as a day-bay for any adventure you might have planned on the other end of your flight.

Cost: $0. Everyone has access to a backpack - beg, borrow or steal. Younger scool-age siblings and boyscouts are a good mark.

A protective shawl

There's nothing like a packed flight of flu-ey passengers to trigger a bout of hypochondria. A scarf or shawl can be a vital line of defence between you and the rest of the plane. A well wrapped scarf help shield you from the germs of other passengers. It will also be a darn sight more comfortable than any eye-mask. You may now breathe.

Cost: $0-$5 - essentially a small measure of material, budget depends on how thrifty or fashion-conscious you are. If all else fails, ask your nan.

The bottle

Instead of the endless water torture of asking to fill up those tiny plastic cups, bring a bottle.
The flight attendants and the planet will thank you.
Unfortunately this era of terror hysteria means you can no longer take fluids on a plane. But there is nothing stopping you bringing an empty bottle. Just make sure you drain it before heading through security screening, or risk having it confiscated.


Cost: $0-$6 Don't baulk. The cost of a bottle of water past security is an insult. But it's a wise move to invest in a bottle and the future. BYO empty bottle, reuse, refill, recycle.

Sound of silence

In the muffled space of a pressurised cabin, the endless drone of AC, engines and fellow passengers quickly become oppressive. Not everyone can afford a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Sleep deeper by bringing a pair ear plugs. Sold at most music shops and even pharmacists.
Cost: $4.
weight: 20g.


Instead of those U-shaped pillows that are impossible to store, and on the other side of your flight scream: "I'm on holiday. Mug me." Instead - for a thriftier, less conspicuous option for neck support bring an inflatable pillow. Best of all, these deflate away to nearly nothing and fit neatly in your carry-on.
Cost: $2 from Kmart or equivalent.
weight: 260g


Recycled air in a cabin can leave your skin feeling like the surface of the Sahara. Unless you're the plush end of the plane – moisturiser is not supplied. Here's a shameless travel hack: fee handouts and 70ml sample bottles are just small enough to take in your carry-on. Stock up.
Cost: $0.
weight: 100g

A pen

Be that organised individual. Of course there will be landing cards to fill out.

Cost: $0. Banks, post offices, unwitting colleagues are practically giving them away.
weight:6g. It's not like you need to bring a whole stationers.

A change of clothes

A pair of PJs can be a lifesaver on long-haul flights. However, a spare pair of undies and another layer are the sort of 'against-all-eventualities' insurance that all travellers should pack. Not that this happens regularly: but on the odd occasion that you arrive at your location and your checked luggage fails to materialise - you'll be grateful you have them. Plus – it can get pretty chilly in the sky.
Cost: $0. Raid your wardrobe.
weight:450g, at about 150g per t-shirt / set of undies.

A fresh smile

Avoid the fuzzy mouth and fluffy brain of a long-haul, and arrive at your destination with fresh breath and a smile. Bring a brush and buy tube of travel toothpaste.
Cost: It'll be the best $3 you spend on holiday.
weight: 19-45g


Travel 101: Never put anything in checked baggage that you can't afford to loose.
Chargers, cameras, electronics, family heirlooms - all these should be kept within arms reach and in your carry on. But we've left plenty of room.

Cost:$0. These are things you hopefully already have, but will be very pricey to replace.

Weigh in:

Coming in at under $20 and 3.131kg

, this ultimate survival kit will leave you with a good chunk of change and plenty of space for your own belongings.

Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs!