As much as we all like to daydream about the freedom of the open road, real travel isn’t exactly free. Indeed, transportation costs seem to rise every year. Air travel in particular has gotten more expensive over the past four years, and so have baggage fees and other related costs. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines collected almost $900 million in checked-bag fees in the second quarter of 2014 alone. Travelers don’t have any control over airfare rates, but to help you avoid paying anything at all in baggage fees, we offer the following tips on how to pack light when you travel.
The first step to packing light is deciding to use — and stick with — a small bag. The most common allowable carry-on size is approximately 9″ x 22″ x 14″, but the exact dimensions differ from airline to airline, so be sure to check with your carrier before selecting and packing your bag.
Savvy travelers swear by the rolled-clothes packing technique, because it decreases the space needed for wearables. It can also add wrinkles, though; if certain pieces of clothing need to be pristine, fold and place them at the bottom, then layer the rolled clothes on top of them.
People often pack for worse-case scenarios, adding all sorts of “just in case” items that aren’t ultimately needed. Turn that attitude around, and expect the best. Eliminate any and all superfluous pieces — that third pair of shoes, those two extra books, the heavy sweater you’ve always carried as protection against an unexpected cold snap in summertime Florida. Weather forecasting has improved significantly over the last century; check the forecast for your destination, and pack accordingly.
The world isn’t as fragmented as it used to be. Chances are, you’ll find your favorite soap, shampoo, or even pair of socks wherever you go — especially if you’re staying in the United States. To save room in your bag for more valuable and/or necessary pieces, leave out the brand-name toiletries and various other items that you can buy (in travel size) once you land.
If you want to save on travel, plan to walk instead of paying for ground transportation. Beware, though: Airports keep growing bigger and bigger, so you’ll be carrying your luggage greater distances than ever before. Take your cargo for a stroll right after packing it to make sure you can tote it for extended periods. If it fails the comfort test, shed more weight (and/or pick a better bag).
Think Travel Plus
If you really want to save on travel, be sure to make your reservations through Travel Plus. On top of earning 5% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals, you’ll also enjoy rebates on dozens of travel costs, including in-flight perks, hotel extras, and rental-car gear — plus rebates on Wi-Fi fees practically anywhere you go. When you join Travel Plus, you can save on all your travel needs.