(Article origionally appeared on www.ynot.com)
It starts like this: you score a great price on an airline ticket, so you brag to your friends what a savvy traveler you are while also planning how to use the cash you’ve saved on the trip.
Then you read the fine print.
The airline is only allowing you one measly carry-on. If you want to check a bag it’ll cost you nearly as much as the ticket. Now you don’t know what to do. You were counting on the money you saved to pay for all your Lyfts so now you’ll have to take busses everywhere – yuck!
You rack your brain on how to get that baggage fee paid for.
Well, you could…
- Earn Elite status– but that means you have to fly a lot on the airline – and by a lot I mean a lot, so most of us, unless we’re heavy business travelers are not going to ever reach upgraded traveler status.
- Open a credit card that covers luggage – unfortunately most have a yearly fee or some other hidden agenda.
- Fly Southwest – the only airline out there that gives you not one but two free checked bags. Unfortunately, Southwest doesn’t fly everywhere so you’ve got no choice but to take another carrier.
What to do?
You realize the only way for you to get around the extra baggage fee, is to not have extra baggage at all. But this is a ten-day trip – how can you possibly get by on one carry-on (generally 22 x 14 x 9)?!
Read below for a few tips that can help even the biggest packrats minimize their load and say “no” to checked baggage fees.
- Choose your carry-on wisely. A bag that is soft can allow for a lot more stuffing than a hard bag. I’ve found that one of the best brands out there is Lipault. Made in France they offer a ton of really pretty colors, they’re super durable, light, and you can fit so much in these carry-ons it’s outrageous. Watch for their sales too, often you can get them half off or more when they want rid of old designs. Tip – go for a darker color whenever possible because they do get dirty.
- Layering – mix and match with a few staple items.
- Big coats take up a lot of room. Instead, buy a light wool jacket like this Icebreaker Hoodie that can be paired with a windbreaker. First of all, both items take up way less space than that heavy parka you’ve got. Second, you’ll have two jackets instead of one – hotter day? Just wear the windbreaker by itself. Yes, the Icebreaker is expensive, but you’ll use it on every trip you ever take so it’s worth it – and they last forever. Also, because it’s merino wool (a special kind of sheep’s wool) it’s not only thin and warm, it’s also soft and comfortable.
- Get a good hat – this is my favorite by Smart Wool. If you have a hat, you’ll stay even warmer on really cold days without that giant coat.
- Leggings are a must because they’re easy to pair with shirts and take up hardly any space.
- Forget sweatshirts, they don’t keep you warm when it’s really cold and they take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Instead, opt for one cashmere sweater to layer over t-shirts – they’re warm, soft, and slimmer to pack than a traditional wool sweater. Yes, cashmere is expensive. But you can almost always find one at a thrift store – I have three I’ve bought for under $10 apiece this way.
- Liquid or Gel Items – since you can’t check them, you’re roped into stuffing them into one Ziploc bag and sending them through the x-ray machine. Try going another route – turn your wet items into dry.
- Toothpaste & Mouthwash – Check out eco companies like MeMotherEarth which offer toothpowder and mouthwash pellets as well as small floss containers.
- Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – Viori offers amazing hair products which I find better than anything in a bottle and they’re great for travel.
- Face Wash – TSA doesn’t count soap as liquids – Sunleaf is a good facial bar I’ve used before that’s cheap.
- Universal Plug – If traveling to different countries, get one universal plug instead of carrying a variety of plugs which take up more space.
- Pillow – Nix those unwieldly stuffed travel pillows and opt for a blow up one by Tillak. It’s not only more comfortable but it shrinks down to nothing – you can even stash it in your purse – it’s that small.
- Water bottle – Buying water at the airport is expensive so if you want to bring your own bottle this one by BKR is the perfect size – just enough to quench your thirst, easy to refill, and takes up little room.
- Shoes – Find a pair of waterproof sneakers or boots – that way you’ve doubled one pair for two if it rains. As another option, you can also shove a cheap pair of galoshes which can be stuffed easily into your suitcase.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid airline baggage fees and embrace the carry-on – happy cheap traveling!
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota, where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names). Email Alyssa via [email protected].