Holiday travel: 5 tips to packing light to avoid paying to check baggage

It’s getting tougher to avoid checking a bag on an airline — and possibly paying more to do so — for flights within the United States.

United Airline’s new “Basic Economy” fare doesn’t allow a full-size carry-on bag. The carry-on size limit is 9 x 10 x 17 inches (about the size of a gym bag), and it must fit under the seat in front of you.

United passengers who bring a full-size carry-on bag to the airport gate must check it there, paying a checked bag fee (typically $25 for the first bag or $35 for a second bag) plus a $25 gate-handling charge. There are exceptions to the rule, including if you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or a Star Alliance Gold member.

Only Southwest Airlines lets you fly with two checked bags for free. If you’re not flying on Southwest for the holidays, pack light.

Last year, I wrote a blog post on how to pack smarter. Those tips still stand, but I’m downsizing them to five for a shorter holiday trip:

    • Take one carry-on bag. Carry-on size limits differ by carrier, so check first.
    • Take one pair of versatile shoes, such as boots.
    • Wear your heaviest, bulkiest items, such as boots and a sweater, on the plane. Consider wearing extra layers, which will free up room in your luggage and keep you warm on chilly airplanes.
    • Don’t pack soap, shampoo or other items that a hotel or your hosts will have.
    • Think European: Wear the same clothes more than once. Borrow clothes from family or friends if you’re the same size or when size doesn’t matter (scarf).
Advertisements

10 tips to pack smarter

Whether you start way ahead of time or wait until the last minute, packing for a trip is nerve-wracking.

Do I have enough shoes? Do I have the right kind of shoes? It’s even harder if you’re crossing seasons and need cool- and warm-weather gear.

nz-packing-rolls-oct-22-2016
My rolled clothes from the pile at the top of this post.

Fresh from preparing for a long trip, here are 10 tips I’ve learned over the years to help make packing easier:

1) Place everything you think you want to take on a flat surface, such as a bed, so you can see it all together. (See photo above.) You’ll see what matches and what doesn’t, and if you have too many items.

2) Mix and match clothing so items can be used interchangeably. You may find you pack fewer items. Pack fast-drying fabrics, such as silk or spandex, which can be washed in a sink.

Continue reading 10 tips to pack smarter