Airline checked bagged fees, imposed in 2008, are still in effect and show no signs of being revoked despite customer backlash and government threats. Some airlines even want to charge for additional carry-on bags (if they do, I’ll post an article on how to pack everything into a duffel bag for a one week vacation). Meanwhile, here’s a handy list for singles, couples, and families of how to pack all that you really need and avoid paying checked bag fees once and for all.
Buy New Luggage
Modern luggage is extremely light (a child can lift even the biggest case) and more space conscious that those clunky travel bags your aunt gave you. Newer luggage is designed to “beat the system” with a bigger interior and a streamlined exterior. Most even have an “expandable” option, so you can comfortably fit even more inside and still be well within airline guidelines. I recommend hardside carry-ons because they easily fit into the overhead compartment.
You can fit tons of stuff inside, despite its smaller appearance. Heavy items like sneakers, jeans, and sweaters as well as tons of swimwear and summer clothes will fit along with assorted items like laptops and books.
Newer luggage is also easier to manage because of features like multi-directional wheel configuration, so you can wheel it upright in any direction, rather than dragging it behind you like a peddler. This feature comes in handy in awkward locations and helps you to run to your gate more quickly. You can also fit a large tote bag on top of it and roll both at once, saving wear and tear on your arms.
Also, if you are traveling on your own, the newer hardsides are very easy to manage even if you have 2 or 3 bags, so make a small investment to save space, effort, and of course, money.
Learn From Packing Pros
You can find luggage packing videos on Youtube and I strongly suggest you watch them. Louis Vuitton has posted videos on how to efficiently pack every conceivable type of luggage. They’ve been doing it for over 200 years, so they know what they know what they’re talking about. If you must bring unusual items, you can find effective packing videos from professional movers and storage companies. Take their advice seriously. Taking 15 minutes to learn to pack better can save you a lot of space and money. It may take some practice to perfect those sharp folds on your clothes, but will be well worth it.
Also, if for some reason, airport security needs to search your bag or you need to get something, it’s much easier to find in a neatly organized travel bag.
List It or Leave It
Make a list of what you are going to need. Many websites offer travel check-lists to help you avoid bringing unnecessary items. TripAdvisor.com offers customers the chance to ask questions – take advantage of this feature to ask other travelers who have visited your same destination what to bring. Do you really need a beach chair if your hotel offers them? Why bring toiletries if your hotel will give them to you for free?
Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t pack XYZ?”
Write or type up a realistic list of things you actually need (i.e. prescriptions) and things you can leave behind. Keep the list attached to your luggage so when it’s time to pack you know exactly what goes and what stays.
Share A Bag
If you are traveling with people, try to bring one large piece of luggage (again I recommend a large, expandable hardside) and pack everything inside. That way, everyone can split the cost of a checked bag fee. But don’t become a space hog and try to pack more.
A large, expandable hardside can fit an enormous amount of shoes, clothes, electronics, and assorted vacation items, but if you overfill it, you will incur the dreaded “overweight” charge, so be sensible, share your luggage space, and split the cost.
You can pack your items in an airtight vacuum bag so they don’t get mixed in with others.
Get Ready To Fly!
Don’t feel deprived because you can’t bring the family tuba or 5 changes of clothes a day. Instead celebrate the opportunity to become one of those super-efficient business travelers, who seamlessly float through airports with a simple business case and garment bag.
Take essential items, get plenty of advice from travel websites and remember, the lighter you travel, the less you have to re-pack on your return trip!