Pack Light and Carry On Your Luggage to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees

Share Article

Instead of paying airline baggage fees, you can carry on everything you need -- even for longer trips. Packing experts from Travel Essentials give specific tips on how to make the most of your carry-on allowance to travel in comfort without the need to check your luggage.

Caught between a sagging economy and rising fuel prices, most airlines have started charging a checked baggage fee to increase revenue. And while most travelers own a carry-on bag for short trips, often they don't see an alternative for longer trips but to fork over the extra $15 each way for a checked bag--or even a further $25 for a second bag--in order to handle their packing needs.

But travel experts Bob and Nancy Bestor say that carefully packed carry-on bags can replace a large, checked suitcase, saving travelers at least one of those charges. And by being more selective about what they take, travelers can often skip the luggage charges altogether and carry on everything they need for a 7-10 day trip.

"Just about anyone can carry-on and still bring everything they need for a great vacation," says Nancy Bestor, "You just have to be smart about it. Do you really need your curling iron? Usually, the answer is 'No'," she says. "You don't have to stand in line to check in and you don't have to wait for your bags after you land. And, best of all, when you carry on, the airlines can't lose your luggage."

Here are several tips that Bob and Nancy, who own Travel Essentials, a well-known luggage and travel accessories retailer in Ashland, Ore., offer to their customers who are looking for ways to get a lot of luggage into a little space:

Top Carry-On Packing Tips

  •     Start with a durable, 22-inch rolling bag, which is the maximum carry-on size. "Remember, you get what you pay for so it's a good idea to get a better bag with a better guarantee. You'll be happier in the long run," Bob says. He notes that while both Travelpro and Briggs & Riley make excellent bags, he finds that he most often recommends Eagle Creek's Tarmac carry-on, which is several pounds lighter than competing bags without giving away anything in looks or durability or warranty coverage.
  •     Add additional carry-on packing space with a tote or small duffel as your "personal bag." Along with your in-flight comfort and entertainment items, it will hold any "overflow" necessities from your larger carry-on as well. You'll store it under the seat. While the airlines offer no guidelines for the maximum size allowable for this bag, you should be okay if it's soft-sided and no bigger than 18 x 12 x 10. And make sure it has a slip panel so it can fit over the handle of your rolling bag, plus a comfortable shoulder strap for when you'll need to carry it.
  •     Use packing organizers. "It seems counter-intuitive at first," Bob says, "because you'd think the organizers would take up space. But they actually compress your belongings and make it easier to fit more. You can start with an overstuffed bag and repack it with the help of some organizers, and suddenly everything will fit neatly and easily." Organizers are also a big help if the TSA decides to search your bag--which inevitably happens when you are on the tightest schedule. Bob notes that Eagle Creek offers organizers in lots of sizes for everything from electronics to a week's worth of shirts and pants.
  •     Your jacket is the bulkiest item in your travel wardrobe. So don't pack it. Either wear it or carry it separately. You can stuff the pockets with your phone, watch, sunglasses and change when you are passing through security, and you'll always find room for it in the overhead.
  •     Design your wardrobe around two or three complementary colors for an array of outfits from just a few garments. Travel clothing companies, such as ExOfficio and Royal Robbins, design their lines around color schemes, and generally offer lightweight, quick drying, and wrinkle-resistant garments. Many also feature built-in sun protection.
  •     If you really need to take your laptop, buy a simple protective sleeve for it and carry it in your tote. "Unless you're on a business trip and you have a very large briefcase, your tote will hold more and the padded sleeve will provide plenty of protection for your computer," notes Nancy. She says their newest sleeves, from GreenSmart, offer excellent protection and are made of recycled plastic bottles.
  •     Travel-specific socks and underwear can save precious space. Made of modern synthetics, these travel garments are as soft and comfortable as their conventional counterparts yet pack smaller and dry overnight after a quick hand wash, the Bestor's say. "You can get by on just a couple sets and a small bottle of detergent," Bob notes.
  •     Take items that offer more than one use. "Microfiber travel towels are always great to take on a trip--they pack down into a small package, they dry quickly, and you never know when you will be stuck somewhere without a towel," says Nancy. But she points out that a large travel towel can easily double as a blanket, sarong or even shawl.
  •     When in doubt - leave it out! Or as Nancy puts it, "If you want to get away from it all, don't take it all with you!"

Travel Essentials is a local, family-run business, owned by Robert and Nancy Bestor since 1994. For more information about Travel Essentials' store or products, visit or call 1-800-258-0758.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Robert Bestor III