7 Easy Tips For Packing Light

By Peggy Goldman, Friendly Planet Travel
June 12, 2014
Suitcase ready to go
Courtesy <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jetalone/81949636" target="_blank"> Hajime NAKANO/Flickr</a>

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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Travel Tips

Psst! Wanna Elope?

When you're engaged to be married, but buried under catering menus, to-do lists, and secret Pinterest boards featuring enough decorative twigs to build the world's largest bird's nest, forgoing a huge wedding for a combination elopement/honeymoon can look rather appealing. Picture it: spur-of-the-moment vows in an exotic locale, the only evidence of your nuptials a lone photo of your blissful faces snapped by a local. Then? Instant honeymoon. But it's not quite that easy. As romantic as ditching the checklists and heading for all-in-one paradise sounds, doing a little bit of planning before boarding that plane will help you avoid wedding-day disasters that can occur even when you and your true love are the only attendees. Plus, we found the latest information on six trendy budget getaways that you might want to consider for your own last-minute ceremony. Investigate the process for a marriage license. Before you even commit to the location for your elopement/honeymoon, talk to the convention and visitors bureau to research the hoops you have to jump through to obtain a marriage license there. Some locales, though popular, have restrictions like waiting periods or witness minimums that could hamper your ideal ceremony. For example: "In St. Lucia, they have very strict rules," says Shawn Rabideau, founder of Shawn Rabideau Events &amp; Design in New York City. "You've got to send all the paperwork in, and the resort sort of helps you with that—they bring it down to the local city office—but you really need to follow the rules. Otherwise you could find out—and this has happened—people have found out they weren't even legally married." Some documents that might be required are birth certificates, passports, divorce decrees (if applicable), a certified copy of the death certificate for a widow or widower, and so on. Applications for a marriage license also might need to be filed before you get there—if only to avoid extra fees. An additional precaution to take when marrying abroad is to check travel.state.gov, which lists information such as whether same-sex marriage is illegal. Depending on the restrictions, it might make sense to do a private ceremony in the states and a symbolic one abroad, says Rabideau. Think logistically. Will your elopement include just you and your partner? Or are you bringing a few friends? Posing simple questions like those can uncover potential organization problems: "How easy is the location to get to?" Rabideau says. "For example, some of the resorts or the islands in the Caribbean only have flights certain times a day and certain days of the week. Is Grandma going to be traveling for 12 hours? That might not be the best thing for Grandma. Are you going to be like, 'Oh, we can just Skype with her, that's great?' Technology doesn't always work." If, upon further research, your dream location might be a travel nightmare or not as quick-and-dirty as you had envisioned, stay stateside to cut down on surprises. While you're planning, go over the emotional fallout too: "Before you make the decision to elope, consider for just a moment and make sure that it's not going to be something you regret," says Jamie Chang, of Mango Muse Events in San Francisco, who specializes in destination weddings. "Not the getting-married part, but the not-having-anyone-there part. Will you be sad if your Mom isn't there? You don't want to look back and wish you'd done it differently." Lean on the hotel or resort for assistance, but ask questions. Most hotels and resorts have experience organizing weddings for out-of-towners, so it's smart to listen to their advice, even if you want a unique DIY wedding with hand-picked caterer, officiant, music, and décor. "They're going to have a list of vendors that they use and rely on," Rabideau says. "That usually is the best way to go. If they're recommending them, they don't want them to fail. It's their reputation." That said, ensure you get the experience you want at the price you want, even when choosing a pre-existing package. "See what the resorts have to offer," Rabideau says. "Do they have an onsite planner that can help you? Very often the onsite planners are more like assistants, so they're juggling 10 or 20 other clients... Are there any hidden fees? Do they do more than one wedding on the day? If they do, is it next to you? Is it like a factory? If you want to feel special, it starts to take that specialness out of it." Brace yourself for a different pace. The sense of urgency we have in the U.S. doesn't apply to some foreign vendors, hotels, and officiants who operate at a throttled-back clip. "Understand if you're doing it in a different country, there's a different way of living," Rabideau says. "Spain [for example] is very different—they're more relaxed there; it's a different culture. They may not necessarily work at the same speed you work at. Not only pack your clothes, but pack your patience." Include a few traditional touches. Even if your wedding is intended to be tiny, spur of the moment, hipster-quirky, or out-of-the-box crazy, you can still hire either a local wedding planner to ensure your ceremony hits all of the marks, or one or two local vendors, depending on your priorities. "While eloping does mean having a wedding with just the couple, I think it's important for every couple to consider hiring a photographer," Chang says. "Even if you only hire them for an hour, it's nice to have a memento of the occasion and of the emotion and the love you felt." Also, this might go without saying, but don't ship your suit or dress or check it in your luggage. "Carry it on the plane with you," she says. "The flight attendants are usually really helpful with wedding dresses and finding a safe place for them." If you're feeling generous, bring the experience back for your friends. Once you're home safe, you can keep the party going by including friends and family who weren't there for the ceremony. "The most successful elopements I have seen also include some type of sharing with the family back home, whether that's posting photos on your favorite social network or hosting a 'toast the newlyweds' reception when you get back home," says wedding planner Karen Bussen, of Simple Stunning Weddings, who has recently partnered with Palladium Hotels and Resorts in Montego Bay, Jamaica; Riviera Maya, Mexico; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. "That's a great place to show your wedding video and let all the folks who love you share in your happiness." Hot destinations for eloping: Costa Rica The authenticity of Costa Rica, with its off-the-beaten-path feel, appeals to millennials, who have been flocking to the country to get married. "Central America is not their parents' tropics," says Susan Breslow Sardone, of About.com's Guide to Honeymoons/Romantic Getaways. "Green" weddings in particular are in style, says Christina Baez, a spokesperson for Costa Rica's tourism board. Especially in vogue: couples offsetting their carbon footprint with donations to reforestation projects, planting an honorary tree during the ceremony, and doing a post-wedding "trash the dress" photo shoot by jumping into one of the country's waterfalls, like those in the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano area. Savannah, Georgia Enduring, idyllic, and accessible, Savannah is a popular go-to wedding destination for couples who want their choice of restaurants and B&amp;Bs but don't have the budget for long-haul air tickets, Rabideau says. Downtown's Forsyth Park, one of the biggest in the area, is a hotspot for small weddings. Negril, Jamaica The island of One Love offers laid-back weddings to couples who want to take the plunge, literally and figuratively. At Rick's Café in Negril, couples can say their vows and immediately leap from a 35-foot-tall platform into Caribbean waters. Afterward, relax with a rum-and-fruit-juice Planter's Punch while gazing at the area's famous purple sunsets. Las Vegas Getting hitched by a singing Elvis impersonator at Graceland Wedding Chapel in Vegas is always an option (they even can stream it over the internet for family and friends!), but so is exchanging rings at beautiful indoor or outdoor hotel chapels at the Wynn Encore, the Bellagio, or Caesar's Palace. Or go mobile with services like the Las Vegas Wedding Wagon, which brings the wedding to you. Another bonus: With only a photo ID, you can obtain a marriage license and get hitched in 24 hours; the Las Vegas Marriage Bureau is open every day from 8 a.m. to midnight. Sedona, Arizona Escaping south to a warm resort in the States is a popular trend for elopers on a budget, Rabideau says. Red-rock views and indulgent spas are two quintessential Sedona musts. The Hilton Sedona Resort &amp; Spa offers a 90-minute "three-part recharging massage" designed for hikers and bikers who want to get back on the trail the next day; the Sedona Rouge Hotel &amp; Spa's concierge can arrange a hot-air balloon ride with a champagne toast high above the mesas. Marrakech, Morocco Stay in a traditional Moroccan "riad," a house with an interior garden, in the historic Medina district, recommends Ingrid Asoni, founder of Asoni Haus event planning in Marrakech. "You still have the tranquility of a romantic getaway, but you also have some incredible views over the whole of Marrakech and the Medina," she says. Riad Noga, La Sultana, and Riad Enja are a few good picks. And don't skip the traditional pre-wedding couples' "hammam," a treatment involving a scrub, a clay or soap wrap, and another scrub—so you're radiant for your lover and ready as you'll ever be for pledging your eternal love.

Travel Tips

BT Reader Tip: Best Packing Advice Ever

To ensure that I don't forget certain essentials (deodorant, cotton swabs, bandages, and over-the-counter medications), I leave the necessities in my suitcase when I unpack so they're ready to go on the next trip. Sure, I've had to buy extras of some items, but it costs less than forgetting them and paying airport or hotel prices. —Jeannine Kranzow, Tampa, Fla. SHARE YOUR BEST TRAVEL TIPS! Email us at tips@budgettravel.com. Your tip may appear in This Just In or in a future issue of Budget Travel. Want more great tips, news, and travel inspiration? Subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter!

Travel TipsFamily

BT Reader Tip: Stress Less When You Travel With Kids!

"Nothing quiets children faster than a new plaything! So before taking a trip with the kids, I spend $20 for 20 toys at the dollar store. I take out one at a time, and when the thrill is gone I take out another. The plane ride is over before they know it! The toys also come in handy for other children on the plane. A dollar is worth it to stop a crying child three rows up!" —Budget Travel reader Cheryl Dela, Buffalo, NY SHARE YOUR BEST TRAVEL TIPS! Email us at tips@budgettravel.com. Your tip may appear in This Just In or in a future issue of Budget Travel. Want more great tips, news, and travel inspiration? Subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter!

Travel Tips

12 Shameless Ways to Save for Travel in your Twenties

This article was written by Stephanie Be, TravelBreak.net Blogger and Travel Journalist. "I don't need an article telling me that I should travel, I need the funds to travel." Listen darling, before you start complaining about not having the money to travel, but have a new car, flat screen, or are going on the same six weekenders you went to in college, re-evaluate your lifestyle. They say "travel is the only thing you buy that actually makes you richer," so here are some tips on how to re-direct your investment. After all, traveling is just that—an investment in bettering yourself. Set a financial goal and timeline. Write it down, add it to your calendar, and check progress weekly or monthly. Discuss it with family and friends for support. Treat it like a weight loss/gain goal or an academic/career goal. Take 15% (or x - amount) from your paycheck that goes straight into a new travel savings account. Mint.com lets you combine your bank accounts and manage your budget by category on one platform. Pick something that you purchase daily and could live without... and live without it. Spending $4 for Starbucks 365 days per year comes out to $1,460. That's a round-trip flight to Europe! Over-achiever? Pick two things. Take a break from purchasing brands. Do you really need another Tory Burch purse? Another pair of Raybans? Another cologne? Every time you are tempted to buy something, take the exact cost and put it into your travel savings account. For several months: no big weekends. A weekend trip to San Francisco plus a weekend trip to Las Vegas plus a weekend at Coachella plus 12 weekends of bar hopping in Santa Monica can also equal two months in Southeast Asia. Seriously, when you get invited to go out, guess how much you would have spent on drinks and add it to you travel savings account. Wine and Netflix doesn't sound that bad anyways. Ask for gift cards related to travel for your birthday, graduation, and Christmas. Heck, the Easter Bunny might throw in a few bucks towards your trip or Grandma may have some air mileage she's not going to use. Do a "job on the side" which strictly funds your travel goal. Something like baby-sitting, photography, freelance work, tutoring, or yard-work, for instance. Save your pennies. Put commissions, tips, and bonuses straight into your travel savings account. Make real sacrifices. Move in with your parents or get a roommate to cut your rent in half. It's just for a few months and will be totally worth it. Move walking distance from where you work. Do you know how much money you could save on gas if you just rode your bike? Try a crowdfunding website. Once you've saved up a little and showed some effort, try crowdfunding your travels with a website like Trevolta so family and friends can pitch in to help you finance the rest of your voyage. In a perfect world, we would have everything in our 20's. (But then again, look at what happened to Miley, Lohan, and Bynes). If we have to choose one luxury over another, the benefits of traveling definitely outweigh the costs. To dream of seeing the world and to be able to finance it yourself in your 20s is an absolutely phenomenal feeling. With a little discipline and organization, you too can make your "dreams" into "goals." Psss... you might also like my posts 14 Ways to Finance your Travels While Abroad and 12 Travel Tips to Ballin' on a Budget. Visit TravelBreak.net for more info and ideas.