Learn How to Travel Without Baggage Fees

With all the fees being imposed on us by airlines, it can be hard to keep up. We bring our own snacks and blankets aboard, and entertain ourselves with magazines, books and handheld games. Why should we pay another fee to bring our stuff along?

With baggage fees on the rise, it can almost be cheaper to buy an extra seat for our luggage to ride along, but they will probably charge us extra for that, too. The biggest fee the airlines force on us is for checked bags (and in some cases, carry-on bags).

In fact, the major U.S. airlines made billions of dollars off of those fees from travelers last year. If you look at it in different a term, that is an extra $30 to $70 dollars on top of the cost of your plane ticket, which you probably already thought was expensive. Keep that money in your pocket with some of these tricks to avoid baggage fees.

Pack small. There are bags, cubes and other products to help you achieve this packing feat. In addition to those, make sure you take less, by making sure all your tops match all your bottoms and can be combined in different ways to make many outfits. Eight articles of clothing can make up to two weeks’ worth of looks by mixing and matching. Accessories can also help, and take up minimal space. Flying carry-on only can be beneficial in many ways besides traveling on a budget, too.

Pack light. If you find that you just can’t get everything you need in a carry-on bag, then at least try to pack light. Oversize and overweight fees can cost double or triple what a regular checked back would and those baggage fees are dumped on top of each other, so you could be paying $25 for a checked bag and an extra $60 for it being overweight and/or $100+ for it being oversized. And remember, that is each way, so whatever you pay is double if you are making a round-trip flight.

Fly on airlines that offer free checked bags. JetBlue and Southwest both let you check bags at no charge. Many international flights also allow you at least one free checked bag per person.

Be a frequent flyer. If you tend to fly a lot and you have miles accumulating in your frequent flyer account, take note that many airlines give you benefits for being a loyal customer. Elite and Preferred members can get waived checked bag fees on many airlines.

Charge it. Another way to become a frequent flyer and earn benefits is to be a cardholder for the airline’s credit card, such as the Delta SkyMiles card. You pay an annual fee, but receive miles for using it anywhere you go and receive one free checked bag for everyone in your travel party (within limits). All cards have different fees and benefits, so choose your card carefully.

Rent equipment. If traveling with a baby or golf clubs, evaluate what you will need and how much you can save by renting at your destination. Sites like BabiesTravelLite have worldwide resource lists for companies that rent out strollers, car seats, play pens and more which can often cost much less than checking them through to your destination. The same goes for athletic equipment. If you won’t be using it for a significant portion of your trip, look into rates to rent where you will be skiing, golfing or whatever else. It might save you a big chunk of change.

By doing a bit of research on your destination and travel lifestyle, you can learn ways to cut expenses on most aspects of your trip. Many budget options are easy to incorporate into your planning and won’t take extra energy to implement.

 

Shereen Rayle is author of the blog Shereen Travels Cheap and a book of the same name that has just been published. For years she has been planning her own vacations using the Internet to extend her limited budget as far as possible and shares the tips and tricks she has learned on her blog, along with useful sites like FareCompare.com, to help others get the most out of their travel dollars. And to further inspire budget travelers everywhere, she finds terrific travel bargains and posts them each day on her Facebook page.

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Published: December 5, 2011