How to pack Your Carry-on and Save on Baggage Fees so You Have More Money for Your Vacation

August 22, 2014

how to pack your carry-onPacking your bags for a long—or even short—trip can often time be a challenge. Ever since airlines began charging steep baggage fees for “overweight” luggage, travelers have had to be much more conscious about what they take with them as they move about. Planning ahead is essential, and utilizing your carry-on properly is the best way to avoid extra charges before you board the aircraft.

Make the Most of Your Allowances

Packing your carry-on the smart way is the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success when you travel through airports. Start by reviewing your airline carrier’s height, depth and length restrictions for carry-on bags so you know that the one you are carrying won’t have to get checked at the last minute because of its size. Utilize the carry-on plus personal belonging rule by bringing something more substantial for a personal belonging such as a backpack or small duffel. Purses will easily fit into the other bag and important items such as passports and wallets can be zipped into the outer pockets for easy access in the airport.

Clothing in Your Carry-On

Your carry-on should have at least one extra outfit in it just in case your luggage gets lost, but if you can fit some of your heavier items in there, you’ll be better off. For winter trips, store your boots, bulky jackets, gloves, hats, etc. in your carry-on or personal item as these items tend to weigh more and it is more likely that you may need them upon arrival. The best way to determine if you’ve over packed your checked bag is to weigh it with a luggage scale at home and then distribute bulkier items to your carry-on before you get to the airport.

Heavy Items

Some of the heaviest items that you will be traveling with will be things such as laptops, jewelry and children’s toys. Anything that is truly valuable to you belongs in your carry-on so you can keep tabs on it at all times, but also to reduce the risk of going over the weight limit in your checked bag.

Another way to keep the weight down in your checked bag is to carry your toiletries onto the plane with you. Be sure to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, and place these liquids in a clear, quart-sized bag at the very top of your carry-on so you can get it out for inspection quickly without tearing apart the contents of your bag at security.

A Sure Thing

There are only two sure ways to utilize your carry-on to avoid baggage fees: weigh your checked bag before you leave home or skip the checked bag experience altogether. If you can learn to pack light and efficiently, you can manage to travel with only a carry-on and a good-sized personal item. Figure out which items you can purchase at your destination and dress smart by layering outfits and reusing your favorite pieces.

Shauna Armitage is a parenting blogger, a freelance travel writer and the co-founder of Pure Wander Magazine.
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