How to Avoid New Carry-on Luggage Charges
Well, it’s begun. A second airline dipped its proverbial toe in the water of new charges last week. Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air will charge passengers up to $35 to use the overhead bin space for stowing carry-on bags. Though frequent travelers and industry-watchers heard rumblings of the new charge months ago, it’s always a bit shocking to see the first couple of slips on any slippery slope. Get ready for this novel charge to become the standard.
The bright side (i.e., the last vestige of sanity) is reserved for travelers who pack light. Fliers who can fit/wedge their carry-on luggage under the seat in front of them will not be charged (at least for now…but we know how these things go). So the great puzzle begins — how do we pack necessities while avoiding the new carry-on fees and still manage to keep our feet somewhere approximately below our waist? Here are a few tips that might help. (See also: The 5 Best Travel Reward Credit Cards)
Obvious, right? But packing light means more than just packing less — it also means packing smart. A small weekend travel bag is about the right size for fitting under a typical airline seat. That bag sets your boundaries and within those limits, you need to get creative. Literally every precious square inch of space has to be maximized. Everything you pack needs to be more compact, pull double-duty, fit inside something else, or be easily washed and worn again.
Avoid Dead Zones
Dead zones are those areas in your luggage that aren’t maximized because of improper packing. The inside of shoes is the most common dead zone. Rolled socks, rolled neckties, belts, underwear, or cell phone chargers can fill these voids and make more space.
Hold It! Don’t Fold It
Larger dead zones in luggage are created by stacking folded clothes instead of rolling them. Stacked clothes always leave peaks and valleys in a bag, and those areas waste valuable space. Rolled clothes wrinkle less, compress better, distribute volume more evenly, and ultimately use space more efficiently.
Choose Versatile Basics
Trips are fun, and we like to have some of our favorite clothes with us when we travel for pleasure. But for budget-conscious travelers, the days of multiple outfit choices may be long gone. Pack for versatility and wearability — jeans, layered cottons or synthetics that can be easily washed, separate pieces that are interchangeable, classic cuts, and neutral colors are all great ways to start.
I’m a big fan of trial-size toiletries — at least in theory. The trouble is, they’re expensive, not all products I use come in these smaller quantities, and some trial sizes are still too big for the squeeze-a-thon we call modern air travel. I improvise my own trial-sized containers by reusing smaller bottles, snatching sample makeup containers from friends, or recycling old pill bottles. My travel containers are about half the size of what you can pick up at the department store. And yes, my Ziploc toiletry bag is an engineering marvel — roughly the size of a teacup Chihuahua.
As the airline industry gets more creative in its charges, maybe it’s time for savvy travelers to match that creativity in-kind. I’m not sure what the next wave of charges will be or how consumers will respond and adjust. Maybe we’ll all be traveling with only single small fanny pack in 10 years and reminisce about the glory days when didn’t have to use our tray tables as foot rests. Whatever the future holds, travel safe, pack light….oh, and stay limber.