Travel Light and Reduce Baggage Fees

If you’ve flown in the past decade, you’re probably already familiar with the scene: walking barefoot in the security line, fighting for overhead bin space with your not-quite-carry-on, and relying on whatever shampoo brand they have at the hotel. Here are some tips to make your travel a tad easier.

1.    Know their limits

Once upon a time, people chose not to check their luggage because they wanted to minimize the amount of time at baggage claim and maximize their time at the destination. For the time-sensitive traveler, lightweight and small luggage was simply the requirement for speed. Fitting in the overhead bins was necessary to avoid the dreaded gate-checked bag – nullifying everything the traveler had done to expedite their airport exit.

Nowadays, it’s less about convenience and more about cost: with many airlines charging for checked bags, flyers are understandably working every option to cut expenses. But don’t pack a full size bag and expect to sneak it through security as a carry-on: airlines are cracking down on travelers who are trying to board with bags that don’t fit within their overhead bin space limits. Security is trained to watch for large bags and send their owners back to square one: waiting in line at the front desk to check (and pay for) the bag. If you do make it all the way to the gate with your full sized bag, you’re likely to be stopped before boarding and forced to gate-check. In this case, your gate-check may cost you an added fee, which takes the fun out of the freebie.

Save time (and possibly money) by measuring your bag against the airline’s carry-on bag size restrictions, and pack accordingly.

2.    Reduce – Re-use – Recycle

So you’ve measured your bag (and checked it twice), and you’ve decided to carry-on. Yes, you can pack for a week of business meetings in NYC in a 9” x 14” x 22” bag, but it will take some careful planning. Here are some ways to minimize your packing needs:

  • Shoes can take up a lot of extra space unnecessarily. The frequent flyer’s mantra: wear one pair, and pack one pair. Ideally, wear the largest pair (ie: boots or tennis shoes) and pack the smallest pair (slip-ons). Granted, wearing boots through the airport won’t expedite your security line process; but the space you’ll save in your bag is worth the extra time.
  • Plan your clothes so that you can re-use as much as possible. One pair of solid black pants can work for two days, as long as you don’t sit in gum on the subway. In that very rare case of a real wardrobe emergency, go shopping. Don’t over-stuff your suitcase with back-ups for events that aren’t really very likely.
  • Recycle your casual clothes. The right T-shirt can be worn one day as an undershirt for your suit, that evening with jeans for a drink, and the next morning on the treadmill.
  • If you’re traveling during cooler climes, wear your coat on the plane. Just remember that you’ll have to take it off in security.

Sure, we love to have all the comforts of home when we travel for business or pleasure; but the truth is, these creature comforts take space and can cost time and money to take. Evaluate your have-to-haves versus your want-to-haves and cut down on your have-to-carry.