Five Tricks to Limiting Your Airline Luggage


Ever thought about taking just a carry-on on with you on your flight and completely avoiding any checked-in luggage? With the new airline fees, you just might! Several airlines are charging up to $15 for your first checked in bag, a range of $10-$25 for the second bag, and up to $125 for the third bag. Your carry-on size can range anywhere from 16 lb to 50 lbs, with a variety of dimensions (check with your specific airline for their rules), but all are certain to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.

Speaking from experience (I spent 3 weeks in Europe with just a carry-on), it can be done. Plan ahead! Not only will you save money on checked-in luggage costs, but you can avoid staring at the luggage carousel, identifying which black bag belongs to you, as well as end the risk of losing your luggage altogether.

Clothing: What do you really need?

The plan will be to bring a few clothing items that you know you’ll wear. First, consider what you’ll be doing at your destination and the weather. Do you have a few outfits that you know will be comfortable and hold-up to your plans? Consider outfits that you can layer if the temperatures change. Secondly, bring items that can be folded/rolled up and not require a steam iron to flatten again. Finally, make sure these items can be washed, especially if you’re bringing fewer items than days you’ll be gone. Washing laundry in a hotel bathtub can be done!

Chances are you’ll be located in a place that has access to clothing in a pinch. A $5 Wal-Mart t-shirt that you purchase and then leave behind to Aunt Maude is cheaper than $25 for the extra bag you have to check in. Remember that.

As a side note, for some reason it always seems that if I lay my clothing out really flat, fold it in half and roll it up like a sausage, I can fit more in the bag. Just my own observation.

Jackets/coats/sweaters: Plane pillow?

If you’re bringing outerwear with you, wear it onto the plane as most will take up a lot of space in your carry-on. You can always use it to lean your head on later in the flight (if you’re lucky enough to have something to lean against)!

Shoes: Heavy for the sole!

Shoes can be heavy! Consider what you really need for footwear. Most vacations require comfortable shoes. Sure you might want your sandals “just in case” but remember the will add a lot of extra poundage to your carry on! And if you do manage to cram a pair of shoes in your bag, stick a few items in them, like socks. Use up all your space!

Toiletries: Small is the key!

Gels, liquids and aerosols must now be under 3 ounces and put into a quart-sized, clear bag in order to get through security. Just one bag! Many of us know that’s pretty challenging when you consider the toiletries you need when you travel. Take advantage of “trial sized” items in your pharmacy (toothpaste, mouthwash, hairspray) if you must bring them with you. Most hotels sell these items if you need them (albeit at quite an expense). Do some research to see if the area you’ll be staying has a chain pharmacy nearby so you can buy your items once you reach your destination (and buy small so you can toss them out when it’s time to go home). Some hotels do have small-sized items for you to use, but don’t depend on it.

Souvenirs: Aren’t photos good enough?

It’s an ongoing joke with my mom of the time we vacationed at Disneyworld and one evening located the local Orlando K-Mart. She spent time choosing some nice towels and bedding that she liked before she remembered she was thousands of miles from home! We had a good laugh as she put everything back. If you must bring things home, consider mailing them to yourself. Do the math…would it be more cost effective to send a box to Disney t-shirts home, or buy another bag and pay $20 to check them in on the plane? Many tourist areas are all set up for this situation and will assist you with mailing your items home, just ask!

Most of us over-pack for trips. Consider the additional baggage costs as a way to force yourself to make some wiser choices! And as always, remember to check with your particular airline to help you plan out the dimensions and weights you will need to work around. 

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