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sep 12 2014

7 Easy Tips For Packing Light

Suitcase ready to go

Follow these tips to pack light and avoid extra baggage fees on your next trip.

(Courtesy Hajime NAKANO/Flickr)

This article was written by Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel.

If you've been paying attention to our latest Friday's Friendly Funny cartoons, then you've picked up on my distaste for airline fees. While some are unavoidable, one of the easiest ways to keep your airline costs down is by packing light to avoid baggage fees. If you're a serial overpacker, here are some of my quick-and-dirty tips to help keep your bags underweight and fee free.

Shrink your shoe collection.
First and foremost, limit your shoe obsession to two pairs. All you need is one casual pair and one that's slightly dressier. This will lighten your luggage immensely. Next, pack your shoes on the bottom of the bag, but don't leave them empty. You should stuff sneakers with socks, belts, and other small items to save space.

Pack early.
Don't wait until that last minute to pack your bags, since rushed packing usually leads to overpacking. Packing efficiently is like a science, so take time to really assess what you'll need and what you can leave at home. My favorite rule is to lay out everything you want to bring—then cut it in half.

Leave it behind.
Leave toiletries at home. Hotels usually provide shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, and anything else you need you can easily pick up in a convenience store at your destination. Also, forget your hair dryer. If you're staying in a decent hotel, they'll have one for you. Insider tip: Toiletries and hair dryers might be hard to come by in places like Cuba and Cambodia, so double check before visiting an "exotic" destination.

Pack clothes that match.
By choosing a color scheme for your clothes, you'll be able to mix and match everything with ease. For example, try packing black and white clothes with one accent color. This will make picking outfits easy and ensure all shoes, shirts, pants, and jewelry coordinate.

Abide by the roll.
Rolling clothes is the best way to save space when packing. Use rubber bands or Velcro straps to hold everything tight and keep items from unraveling. I also suggest packing a small bottle of wrinkle release to help smooth out clothing creases that might form during travel, but just be sure the container is small enough to follow the 3.4 ounce airline regulations. For clothes that you can't fold, like suits or dresses, try placing them in a plastic bag from the dry cleaner. The plastic creates a layer of separation and decreases wrinkling.

Consolidate outfits.
Certain outfits can serve multiple purposes. If you plan to go for a run or hit the beach in a t-shirt and gym shorts, why not sleep in the same outfit the night before? Try sleeping in your underwear to avoid packing nightgowns and pajamas. Also, if the climate requires that you bring heavier clothing like jeans and sweaters, I suggest re-wearing them. Spritz them with travel-size Febreze if needed, although daily showering and deodorant is generally enough to keep garments fresh on a short trip.

Layer on the plane.
The best way to transport bulky clothing items is by wearing them on the plane. Wear heavier items, such as sneakers, boots, jeans, and sweaters, on the flight to save yourself baggage space. The overhead bin always has room for a jacket or sweater if you get too hot on the flight.

Sometimes it seems that the fight against airline fees is a losing battle, but by packing light, you can skirt baggage fees and avoid lugging heavy suitcases. We want to know: do you have any other tips for packing light?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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