10 ways to pack smarter and lighter

Traveling Light

by Linda Shapero

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By now, you've probably heard or read about the extra charges most airlines are tacking on for excess, overweight and oversized baggage, which can easily run $100 or more per bag! It's insanity, pure and simple, and I don't think many people are crazy enough to buy into it. But what can you do? It's time to learn to pack smarter and lighter for airline travel and that takes some pre-planning. On that note, here are ten tips to help you do just that:

  • To begin with, consider purchasing lightweight luggage. If you haven't bought any in awhile, you may want to purchase one or more pieces of lightweight luggage. Some pieces weigh as little as seven or eight pounds, a great start to help you pack lighter.
  • Where are you going and what will you be doing? If you are going on a business trip, you will be packing mostly suits, jackets, pants and shirts. Depending on how long your trip is, you may be able to get along with just one or two suits by changing jackets and shirts to offer up multiple outfits.

    If you're headed for a vacation, plan ahead by thinking of what you will actually be doing and where you will be doing it. For example, if you're going to be hiking, you probably won't need city sight seeing clothing or evening dresses. If you're going to a rainy climate, be sure to pack your raingear. And remember, too, lightweight wash-and-wear clothing is best. In cool weather, you can layer for added warmth without the bulk.
  • Leave all the equipment at home. Travel light by not packing excess equipment, like blow dryers, curling irons, etc. Most hotels offer blow-dryers, but if you really can't live without your curling iron or travel iron, at least get the portable type that won't take up a lot of space or add unwanted weight to your luggage.
  • Limit toiletries. You can't take them all, and you don't need them all when you can shop almost anywhere for all types of toiletries. Also, be sure to check with the airlines if you're not up on their latest restrictions for liquids, gels and other items.
  • Don't bring items that may leak. I would advise not to take them as I've personally been the victim of a leaky shampoo bottle that drenched most of my clothes. It was not a good experience. However, if you must take them, please put them in resealable bags.
  • Carry extra plastic bags with you. These are handy for dirty clothes, shoes (you don't want dirty shoes touching your clean clothes), and placing between clothes when packing. They also are great for protecting breakable items.
  • Maximize space by rolling. You've probably heard this somewhere before, and it works! Roll one or two (or even more if they are thin) items together, and you will be amazed at how wrinkle-free they will be when you reach your destination. This works particularly well with pants and shirts and will give you a lot more room in your suitcase.
  • Put small items like socks, pantyhose and belts into shoes or purses. You'll be surprised how much you can get into these small receptacles. Also, don't forget to use all the nifty pockets and compartments on your luggage.
  • Place all necessities like glasses, medications (in their prescription bottles, if you please), passport, wallet, etc. in a carry-on bag to take on the plane. It's a good idea to also take an extra change of clothing just in case your baggage doesn't end up where you do.
  • If you pack light, you will have extra room for the items you want to bring home, like souvenirs and trinkets. By using up some of the things you've brought with you, such as the small bottles of toiletries you've packed, you will be saving space, too.

Here's one more tip to help navigate the sea of luggage at the baggage claim. Put a colored ribbon or other identifier on your luggage. If you have black suitcases (on wheels) like so many others, this may save you considerable time when you retrieve your bags. Bon voyage!

Take the Next Step:

  • Is debt preventing you from traveling to your preferred destinations? The Dollar Stretcher can help you get to those places you'd rather go. Get the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have and start working toward the vacation destinations of your dreams.
  • Taking a trip soon? With most airlines tacking extra charges on for excess, overweight and oversized baggage, it pays to really think about what and how you are packing. Follow the above 10 tips to pack smarter and lighter for airline travel.
  • Find other money-saving articles on airline travel in the The Dollar Stretcher Library.

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