Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Checked Luggage Tips

The New York Times posted a smart article today about avoiding luggage fees. Instead recommending the totally impractical, expensive tactic of shipping luggage (okay who actually does that? Especially FROM a vacation destination), it lists the following (mostly) helpful tips:
  • Stick with Southwest and JetBlue as neither charges extra for the first bag checked (and Southwest allows two checked bags for free). The article quotes travel writer Eileen Ogintz on the subject. Apparently, she's driven to farther out airports just to fly these two.
  • Apply for an airline-branded credit card. These are not only decent loyalty miles generators, but they usually come with the perk of fee-free baggage check (at least for the first piece of luggage). The article wisely notes that some of these cards carry hefty annual fees, so do your due diligence before going with one of them.
  • Vacuum pack your stuff. Helpful little baggies, created just for squeezing more stuff in smaller spaces with the help for a vacuum cleaner (which sucks out the extra air around the clothes that you've put in your little package) allow one to cram three times as much stuff in a carry-on bag, according to consumer advocate Kate Hanni. But that begs the question: what do you do when you're packing to come home from wherever you are? Most of us DON'T have easy access to vacuum cleaners while on holiday. Hmmmmm....
  • Trenchcoats. This last one always seemed like a desperate measure to me, but some folks are wearing  their extra underwear and bathing suits in multi-pocketed garments created by such companies as Scott E-Vest. Apparently, some of these pockets are capacious enough to fit a lap top computer! But how the heck do you sit down in a garment that's holding a lap top computer and all of your clothes for a week? That's what I've always wondered. And also, does one want to wander around the world in an overstuffed trench coat? Won't people grab their children's hands and move far away from you as possible? Not the best way to "meet the locals", I'd think.
On the political front, it seems the issue of baggage fees has become so hot button that a number of Senators and Congresspeople are taking it up, even proposing rules disallowing airlines from charging for the first bag checked. I wish them luck (but don't have much hope for such legislation passing.)

What the article doesn't go into is my own tactic, which comes down to two words: pack light!

I only own carry-on luggage, so I don't have the option of overpacking. Instead, I pack a few things that I can mix and match and if I know I'll be on the road for longer than a week, I simply plan to do laundry halfway through my trip. My bag is relatively light, I don't have to agonize over what I'm going to wear each day, and I enjoy myself just as much as those wearing different outfits each day.

 I'm probably not the height of fashion while on the road. But travel's about seeing, not being seen--right?

1 comment:

  1. Good tips Paulline. I use Space Maker bags which don't require a vacuum, you simply roll them to push out the excess air. They work great to keep dirty or soiled, or smokey, smelly clothes from any that are still clean. They come in different sizes and are easy to use.