Packing is hard enough at the best of times, but when you’ve got to pack for a 24-hour layover on your way to a 7-day holiday, things are even tougher. That’s especially true when your layover stop is a totally different climate to your final destination, which is exactly the fun situation I found myself in last month on my way to sunny Cuba!

We managed to nab an Air Canada flight which factored in a 22-hour stopover in Toronto on the way there AND on the way back to Havana. Of course, a 24-hour layover is never really ideal, but it can be a cheap and effective way of squeezing more experiences into your annual leave.

But just how do you pack? Do you chuck everything in one suitcase? Do you taxi it everywhere? Here are the things I found most helpful on my 24-hour layover!


This one depends all on how you work best and how long your initial flight is. I prefer to get to my layover destination as early as possible, giving me the whole day to explore. I find that the adrenaline of wanting to discover a new city helps propel me through that horrendous jetlag.
Alternatively, there’s the option of arriving in the evening, and then pretty much heading straight to bed before you head out in the morning. This has some definite pros and cons – for instance, if your flight is delayed at least it will only eat into your sleep, rather than your time exploring. However, you will want to consider your next flight the next day – will you be able to leave your luggage somewhere while you go exploring?


You might want to consider mixing things up with your luggage. I used my large 4-wheeled suitcase for my hold luggage, but opted to take my new Constellation Universal Cabin Case along with me too. (Read my full review of the suitcase here!)

Everything in my hold luggage was for Cuba, but I decided to dedicate the cabin case to items I needed just for the plane and for my stopover. Doing this made things a lot easier, as I was able to leave my big suitcase completely alone in Toronto. It made me feel like I had my s#@* together a bit too. Organisation and all that. 💪

Of course, this requires you to make sure you’ve got everything you need in your cabin luggage case – don’t forget those important documents and your money!

How to boss a 24-hour layover


Because of the point above, I didn’t need to use my hold luggage at all until I got to Havana. If this happens to you too, you may want to consider seeing if your layover airport will look after your hold luggage for you. Toronto airport offers a luggage storage service at Samsonite in Terminals 1 and 2 – (storage prices range from $2 to $10 a day, in case you’re wondering). They’ll look after your luggage and/or your winter coat in order to save you having to lug it around.


OK, I know I’m about 4,000 years late to the party, but packing cubes are AMAZING. If you haven’t got any, get some now. (Full disclosure: I was very kindly sent some from the Gap Year Travel Store to try out, but I think most bloggers will agree with me that they’re the best thing since sliced bread.)

These packing cubes kept my layover clothes separate from the rest of the bits and pieces in my cabin case. Not only did this make it 10x easier to rummage around in the case (nothing worse than having everything thrown into a bag at random), but it also avoided everyone seeing my knickers every time I opened my luggage. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oh, and those packing cubes also meant I had somewhere to store my dirty underwear during the holiday. For a clean freak like me who’s super keen on keeping things separate, this was so wonderful. So, in short, packing cubes are the friend you never knew you needed, put them on your ‘to buy list’ right now <3


I’d also recommend staying near the airport in order to minimise the time spent lugging your suitcases around everywhere. It also makes things a lot easier if you have an early morning flight the next day – you don’t want to be faffing around with getting from the city back the airport at 4am. Ick.

How to boss a 24-hour layover

The Alt Hotel at Toronto Airport – just a few stops on the airport train to our terminal!


I realise this isn’t possible in every city, but wherever Uber is available, use it. On a short layover, time is your most precious commodity. Some cities (like London, for instance) do offer quick travel from the airport into the main area. But I’d still use Uber to get you from point A to point B in as quick a time as possible.

How to boss a 24-hour layover

From airport hotel to the top of the CN tower in just half an hour!

If you’re reading this shaking your head and thinking “Nah, I’m not made of money,” consider my Toronto layover and the three options I had getting from the airport to the city centre:

Union Pearson Express: $24.70 for two people, one way. Takes 25 minutes. Stops at Union Station, or Bloor and Weston GO.

Public Transit: $3 per person. Takes 75 minutes to get into downtown Toronto.

Uber: $36.02 for two people. Took us straight from our airport hotel to the CN tower in around 31 minutes.

Uber worked out being our best bet because it a) saved us having to go back on ourselves from the hotel back to the airport, and b) it got us directly to where we wanted to go (always handy when you’re first in a city and don’t yet have your bearings), and c) it didn’t really work out too much more than getting the Union Pearson Express.


I know it can be tempting to want to see everything a city has to offer, but in my experience that only ever ends up causing you stress and disappointment. I ran my boyfriend ragged during a 12-hour trip to Paris, trying to see as much of everything as possible, and before we knew it we were tired, fed up, and just wanted our bed! See your 24-hour layover as a way to sample a city – focus on one walkable area where there’s a few things you can experience in a short space of time. Making your stopover manageable and realistic will leave you with happy memories of your trip, and give you even more reason to return for longer!

These are the points I found handy during my 24-hour layover. Got anything else you would add? Let me know in the comments <3 

Disclaimer: I was sent a Constellation Universal Cabin Case to review, but all opinions and thoughts are my own.