How to travel light in era of bag limits, fees

Due to the many restrictions in weight and size for luggage imposed by airlines, not to mention high bag fees, it is vital to maximize space.

An extra bag can cause you more than $50. Or you might have to use two suitcases instead of one if it exceeds the weight requirement. When traveling to California recently, I had to pack a weekend’s worth of winter clothes in one carry-on bag. It was hard, but I managed by following these tips:

1. Try using garment bags for suits, sports coats and dresses. You can check this bag for a nominal fee when you get to the airport. By using a garment bag, you avoid cramming your outfit and you leave more stuff in your luggage.

2. Carry-on bags should served as a fallback if your luggage gets lost. Pack items you will need as soon as you land in your destination and essentials such as an extra pair of underwear. You can also pack your laptop, reading material or anything that will entertain you during the flight.

3. Try to put the outfit you are going to use first on top so you would not have to go through your entire bag to find what you need. Having your outfits ready to go is very important when you have limited time and you have a busy trip schedule. Packing your bag by outfit will save you time when you get to your destination and will remind yourself not to forget anything.

4. Knowledge is you best weapon to combat airline luggage fees. Find out if you are can bring one bag for free. Some airlines allow you to check in one bag for free but some charge you for every bag. Learn about the weight limits and size limitations. For example, on American Airlines flights, carry-on-bags have to be no bigger than a specific size. When I went to California, they made me place my bag in a size checker, but since I fly frequently, I was not worried. Know your rights and the policies for the airline you are using, do not let them overcharged you. You can find out airline bag policies by checking their Web sites.

5. Try to buy the travel-size toiletries so you can pack them in a small bag. If your shampoo is not sold in a small size, store the shampoo in plastic bag to prevent them from leaking. I lost a bottle of hairspray on my trip to California for not following the Transportation Security Administration rules. Every container can only be 3.4 ounces or less. However, medicine, breast milk and baby formula are exempt from this rule.

6. Airlines have cut back cabin service dramatically. My trip to California lasted almost five hours and the flight attendants only provided beverages. That is why if the trip is longer than two hours, it is a good idea to pack a sandwich or a small snack so you do not go hungry on the plane like I did. Try to buy your snack near home, if you wait until the airport, you will be stuck with the decision between a $17 sandwich and going hungry.

Rosa Orihuela ’13
University of Miami

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