Traveling is expensive, so the last thing you need is to pay extra for your checked baggage. If you packed just one too many outfits before your journey—or went on a shopping spree at your destination—you can probably still avoid the excess fees. These three smart hacks could help:
- Layers and more layers. On one Miami vacation, I found this adorable area rug at an unbeatable price. My husband was dead set against my impulse buy, saying that it wouldn’t fit into bags we had already maxed out weight-wise. But I needed that rug! So what did I do? I turned my rug into a “wrap” and wore it over my jacket. Once on the plane, I just folded it up and stored it in the overhead bin.
So one easy and practical way to avoid paying extra for your extras is just to wear anything that’s heavy, even if you have to open your bag right there on the floor next to the check-in counter and start donning sweaters. Technically, nobody can say anything about a passenger that takes layering to the next level. And don’t forget to stuff your pockets!
- Bring a foldable backpack to the airport. If you suspect your baggage is overweight, just take it out of your purse and fill it with your heaviest items, along with your purse, and bring the backpack on the plane with you as your “small personal item,” which most airlines allow. Or if you already know you’ll be tipping the scales before leaving home, use a compression bag to fit more stuff into that backpack: just put your clothes inside and lean on the bag to apply pressure. Ticket agents will almost never weigh your personal item, which offers you the opportunity to carry the heavy stuff on board without adding those pounds to your checked baggage.
- Check-in early. The check-in people tend to be more lenient with early birds than with latecomers. So try to be at the counter as soon as check-in opens (usually three hours before departure for international flights and two hours for domestic), and they just may cut you a break.
Finally, for those of us who tend to overpack, a digital luggage scale always comes in handy, especially for frequent travelers. If you know that your luggage is overweight before you get to the airport, you can lay out a strategy beforehand… And avoid having to repack at the check-in counter!