Pack smart to save money

I’ve always been envious of people who have the ability to “travel light.” Even the mere thought of packing light is so unfathomable to me that it’s almost humorous. And – I’ll admit it – slightly sad.

Unfortunately for people who can’t seem leave town without packing 18 pairs of shoes and the kitchen sink, airlines are raking in the profits at our expense. According to statistics from the ATA, airlines in the U.S. made an estimated profit of $2.6 billion in 2010. Baggage fees alone accounted for $906 million.

Shelling out a few hundred dollars for a ticket is one thing, but when I realized that checking my bags could potentially cost me the amount of another plane ticket, I became determined to change my ways.

So whether you’re heading on a trip to celebrate the last hurrah of summer, or you’re budgeting for upcoming holiday travel, these packing tips can help you avoid costly baggage fees.

Plan carefully

About a week before you plan to leave, begin compiling a packing list. Start by listing your necessities, then move on to outfits. Plan your outfits strategically based on your schedule and the weather at your destination. Mix and match articles of clothing to make more outfits with fewer items.

Pack like a pro

Have you ever wondered how the flight attendants fit all of their things into a single carry-on? It’s all about technique, strategy and utilizing extra space.

Rolling clothes rather than folding them will help save space in your suitcase, and will also help avoid wrinkles. Packing rolled socks and other small items inside shoes is a great way to utilize space.

Place the heavy, bulkier items on the bottom of the suitcase, and the lighter ones on top. Anything you don’t want to roll can be folded or placed on top of the other items.

Weigh your bag

Check your airline’s weight requirements online to ensure your bag isn’t over the limit. Fees for overweight bags are costly and can quickly put a damper on your trip.

There’s an easy technique to determine your bag’s weight at home. First, step on a scale and record your weight. Then, pick up your bag and step on the scale again. Subtract your original weight from the second to determine the weight of your bag. 

Anticipate overflow

Allow extra room in your suitcase for items you may want to bring back. You can also include an empty bag in your luggage to accommodate anything you may accumulate during your trip.

You might also enjoy reading:

Don't let travel fees bust your vacation buget
Off-season travel can stretch your budget
Rental car prices: How to hit a moving target


Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.