Save Money on Summer Air Travel by Packing Light

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Airline charges for excess baggage can add up quickly, so learn to pack light and plan ahead.

Want to save at least $50 on summer air travel? “Learn to pack light!” says packing expert Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler (

Checking overweight bags or too many bags can add up to major charges -- due before you proceed to the gate. Exceed the 50 pound maximum per bag allowed by most airlines for domestic travel and you will be charged $25 each way; try to check more than two bags per ticketed passenger and the typical fee is $80 per bag, each way. Try to carry on too many bags or too large a bag and you may be forced to check it, thereby putting you over the limit. Oversized bags may also incur a fee -- it will cost you $80 each way for any bag that measures over 62 inches based on linear measurement of length + width + depth. Call your airline or check their website for specifics, as rules differ.

Foster offers these four tips to avoid any costly add-ons:

-Plan ahead so you pack exactly what you need and nothing extra. Go to for tips to pack less.

-Measure your suitcase(s) before packing. The larger the bag, the more weight it will hold, putting you at risk for the oversized and overweight fee added together.

-Pack at least a day in advance so you have time to edit down and still have what you need and want.

-Weigh each packed bag on your bathroom scale before leaving for the airport and lighten the load to less than 50 pounds (you do want to bring treasures home, don't you?).

Traveling internationally?

Check with all the airlines you plan to fly. Americans often choose a domestic carrier (United, Delta, American, etc.) to Europe and regional discount airlines to fly between European cities. Domestic airlines flying to an international destination generally allow two checked bags weighing up to 70 pounds each, but discount airlines flying within Europe allow only 33 to 44 pounds total per person (again, rules differ) for all checked luggage. You may carry on an additional piece weighing from 13 to 22 pounds. Excess baggage fees can cost as much as $3.80 per pound.

For example, do the math…

2 bags @ 70 lbs each = 140 pounds (allowed from U.S.), less 33 pounds (maximum allowed by some European discount airlines) = 107 pounds excess baggage

Total fee: 107 overweight pounds x $3.80/pound = $406.60 one way

Starting to get the picture? Traveling with too much luggage is a burden and it can cost a fortune. Pare down and enjoy the freedom that comes from traveling light.

By following these simple tips, you can save money during this summer’s air travel and save back strain, too.

See for more family packing and airport tips.


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Kate Bandos