You can almost feel the spray of the ocean salt water hitting the rocks. You can hear the gulls squawking above. You can feel the sand between your toes. Whoa. Reality check. You are sitting in a boring history class, gazing out the window, watching snow fall heavily onto the ground, and you are badly in need of a spring break escape. It’s time to get online and book a flight for a sunny beach vacation or maybe a ski resort that you’ve dreamed of visiting.
You check out the websites of a few different airlines that fly to your preferred destination. Baggage charges, $15 per person, per bag, per segment; and a one-stop round-trip flight is considered four segments. Charges can be as much as $200 if you are traveling with several checked bags. Wow! When did this sneak up on you? Last year when you booked that fabulous Bahamas trip you didn’t pay any extra fees for checking your bags.
Within the past year, many airlines, in an effort to cut costs and become more profitable (or less unprofitable), have begun charging passengers who have luggage to check. Many of the major carriers now do this, and some of the low-cost carriers have been charging for checked bags for awhile. That’s how they’ve been able to maintain their “budget” status.
But with a bit of foresight and planning, you can become a masterful packer. Wouldn’t it be great to reduce or even eliminate unnecessary baggage charges and use the money you saved to try that terrific Cajun restaurant that all your friends have been raving about?
“If it doesn’t fit in my carry-on, then I don’t need it” should become your new mantra.
In the past, your travel partners might have been irritated with your gloating each time you checked in at the gate with only carry-on item. But now, with the increasing number of airlines adding surcharges for checked bags, those same annoyed friends may start soliciting your advice on how to travel light. One savvy traveler was able to fly from a small Midwestern college-town airport to Frankfurt, Germany for ten days with winter clothing and even a travel pillow using only one carry-on bag!
So, how do you avoid those ridiculous extra baggage charges?
1. Choose the biggest suitcase possible that is allowed for carry-on and use the pockets and compartments efficiently. Currently, airlines allow a carry-on bag to be no more than a total of forty-five inches for height plus length plus width, typically a bag that is 22 x 14 x 9. Be sure to double check with your specific airline before you start packing. Not all airlines are the same, and regulations regarding what and how to pack are ever changing.
2. Select mix-and-match clothing and dress in layers both on the plane and during your trip. Every shirt or blouse in your bag should match every pair of pants, slacks or skirt. A neutral colored blazer, jacket or sweater should match most of the clothes you pack.
3. Bring as few outfits as possible. You don’t have to be a math genius to count the number of days you will be away and pack an appropriate number of outfits. It’s just plain silly to come home with clothes in the suitcase that were never worn. And there’s no reason why you can’t wear the same practical clothes and comfortable shoes for getting around while at the airport on both your travel days.
4. Pack as few cosmetics and toiletries as possible and pack the smallest amount you think you will need on the trip. You don’t need a brand new large size of deodorant for a one-week long vacation. No one is that sweaty. If you travel frequently, save nearly used tubes of toothpaste. If you are clever enough, you can discard the empty container when packing for your return trip.
5. Wear your heaviest clothing possible on the plane. It actually does get chilly on planes sometimes and if not, then remove some of the layers. If you pack those bulky items instead of wearing them, you will end up with no space in your carry-on bag.
6. Use the largest fanny pack and purse possible and wear clothes with many pockets and load them as full as you can. You may even be able to stuff a light snack, such as trail mix or crackers and a juice box, in a fanny pack. Additionally, a money belt that fits under your clothing is a great security item for storing your passport and other identification.
There’s really no reason to pack an overabundance of items on your next trip. Pack lightly, and you, too, can avoid those excess baggage charges. Bon voyage.