Practical packing: getting more stuff in for less

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Let’s face it: most of us aren’t getting any younger, and the idea of lugging around several bags and suitcases for a short trip overseas isn’t appealing to us baby boomers.

These days, however, it’s not quite as impractical or difficult to carry more than one bag, since many airports have made accommodations to let travellers move easily from one terminal to the next. Gatwick Airport, London’s second-biggest airport and the 10th-busiest in Europe, even has a “Summer Special” service that (despite its name) runs all throughout the year. According to Airport plane shotParking4less, this service has been giving passengers the option to leave their cars with a valet service and get on shuttle buses with their luggage, without the hassle of dragging their bags across the airport.

The problem comes when it’s time to process their bags for boarding. These days, airlines are known to charge exorbitant fees for checked-in luggage, especially when it exceeds their baggage allowance. People have taken great lengths to avoid these fees: James McElvar of Scottish boy band Rewind even passed out from heat exhaustion when he tried to wear all his clothes at once, just to avoid the excess baggage fees imposed on him by EasyJet.

How bad can these excess baggage fees get? One charitable man from Ontario was forced to pay more than $4,000 when he tried to fly bags of relief goods to Cuba through Sunwing Airlines.

So how do you avoid these exorbitant baggage fees? As it turns out, it’s not simply about cramming as many things as you can into one bag, or bringing as little as you can. In fact, it’s a mixture of both. The first thing to remember, as Rick Steves explains, is to stick to one bag. If you’re travelling outside the city, one option is a suitcase-backpack hybrid you can carry on your back when there’s water on the ground, but with enough room for you to keep everything together.

When it comes to packing up, it’s also not enough to know that you need to roll your clothes — you also need to know where to put each item so that you’re using space efficiently.

Carry-on suitcaseThe Conde Nast Traveler explains:  “One of the simplest but often overlooked packing tips is to put heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase, meaning the short end where the wheels are — it’s easier to roll a bag through long airport hallways when the weight is down there. Flight attendants put shoes and toiletries there, and it makes a surprising difference during in-airport transit.”

It’s also a good idea to keep things organized in their own bags or packing blocks: this helps keep things from getting wrinkled, and allows you to easily find the items you’re looking for when you’re rifling through your bag. And speaking of one bag, if you can stop yourself from bringing your entire wardrobe and three pairs of shoes, try a carry-on: no more standing around the luggage carousel, no lost luggage, and best of all — no luggage fees.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post! I try to do carry-on only when I travel. I hate waiting for checked bags at the airport, and the possibility of my bag getting damaged or not arriving on my flight is enough to make me do carry-on.

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