If your summer-vacation plans involve air travel this year, you’re probably going to have to pack a suitcase. And if you have to check that bag, you’re probably not going to like the baggage fees the airline charges at check-in.
US Airways, with the most flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport, charges $25 for each checked bag on domestic flights and flights to certain North and South American countries, including the Caribbean. And that’s just for the first bag – if you need to check additional bags, you’ll pay $35 for the second and $125 for the third, and those fees are each way, not round trip. Read about US Airways’ checked baggage policies here.
How do you keep those baggage fees in your pocket, instead of in the airline’s bottom line? Well, the obvious plan of attack is to take a carry-on suitcase and not check luggage at all.
For a family of four, you could save a couple hundred bucks round-trip by carrying on all of your luggage instead of checking it. US Airways allows each passenger one personal item (like a purse, briefcase or computer bag) and one carry-on bag up to 14 inches by 9 inches by 22 inches, and up to 40 pounds. The personal items must fit under the seat in front of you. I usually take a backpack and leave enough room to stuff my purse inside.
A flight attendant has these tips on how to pack for a 10-day trip in just a carry-on:
- Tightly roll up clothing instead of folding it;
- Pack shoes around the edge of the suitcase, with firm clothing on the bottom, soft clothing above, and toiletries on top;
- Try to avoid fabrics which are prone to wrinkling.
- Pack neutral-colored basic items that can be worn more than once, and that you can mix-and-match to create multiple outfits.
- Bring Shout wipes and a bleach pen for treating and removing spots and stains.
If you can’t fit your stuff in a carry-on sized bag, use these tips to avoid excessive baggage fees for checked luggage:
- Make a list and check it twice. Decide what you need to take, based on your destination, and avoid throwing "impulse items" in at the last minute. Click here for a basic vacation packing checklist.
- Pack lightweight clothing, when possible, avoiding heavy fabrics and bulky linings.
- Weigh and measure your suitcase at home. Overweight and oversized baggage charges can be hefty, ranging from $90 to $175 with US Airways (and again, that’s each way, not round trip).
- When packing for your departing flight, remember that you may bring home souvenirs and gifts, so leave room (and weight) in your suitcase for those on the return flight.
Have a great trip! If you’ve got a vacation-packing tip, share it in the comments below!