6 Tips for Avoiding the Nightmare of Excess Baggage Fees
Your dream trip is planned, your accommodation is booked, you’re imagining the sights, sounds, and smells ahead, and you’re counting down the days until you go. Suddenly, your greatest hopes and dreams come crashing down around you. It comes time to pack, and, no matter how much you sit on your luggage, you just can’t get it to zip! Or you arrive at the airport and are informed by the airline that your check-in bag is two pounds overweight! Or you fail to sneak your carry-on past the gate and not even the strength of a thousand men could cram it into that discount airline’s minuscule bag check device!
Excess baggage is a tragic nightmare that many of today’s travelers must cope with, but you can breathe a sigh of relief. There is help out there. Whether you’re stuffing your entire life into one carry-on or fighting the epic battle of a checked bag’s weight limit, here are six tips for avoiding those excess baggage fees.
Thoroughly research your baggage allowance
Never make any assumptions about what baggage you’ll be allowed on a flight! Airlines’ rules vary quite a bit, and even a single airline’s restrictions will vary from route to route. Always check out the airline’s website before flying, and, if you have any questions, call them up. What is the maximum size and weight for checked bags? How much will they charge if you go over the limit? (Hint: often quite a bit!) How big can carry-ons be? Can you bring a personal item in addition to your carry-on, or will you be limited to one item? Make sure you know all of this before traveling so you aren’t caught with any surprise fees.
This may sound like the world’s most obvious suggestion, but it’s easier said than done. Have a real think about what you could possibly leave behind. Do you really need all those items? Can you bring laundry detergent and wash clothes as you go so you can re-wear them? Can you use space-savers like vacuum bags or all-in-one chargers? What can you buy on the road? It’s tempting to bring everything you could possibly imagine needing, but the fewer items, the happier (and richer!) you’ll be!
Make use of a luggage scale
My luggage scale may be the handiest travel-related item I own. Getting everything under 50 pounds/23 kilos – especially when I’m packing my life up and moving abroad – can be a major struggle, and this allows me to add and remove items from my luggage while at home so I’m not biting my nails in line for the check-in desk. Plus, because these scales are small and light, you can take them with you to re-weigh even after changing the contents of your baggage on your travels. I’ve found that many airlines don’t weigh carry-ons even if they have a weight restriction, but some do, and the scale is definitely always handy for checked bags.
If you’re a discount airline veteran, you may be all too familiar with the practice of wearing approximately 300 layers of clothing to bypass strict luggage limits. Over the years, I have to admit I’ve become a total pro at this. What are you looking at, people? It’s totally normal to wear three shirts and a winter coat in 95 degree heat. This Scottish boy band singer became my spirit animal when it was reported that he passed out on an easyJet flight because he was wearing twelve layers of clothing. Mad respect. Perhaps avoid putting your health in jeopardy, but, hey, you can consider it a personal challenge!
Invest in a travel vest
Take the idea of wearing everything one step further and purchase yourself a travel vest. You may look ridiculous, but, hey, technically you’re not “carrying” all of this stuff on. Carryology has a great round-up of some of the travel vests out there…and some actually look pretty inconspicuous!
Ship your luggage to your destination
If there’s no chance of limiting the amount of baggage you have, consider shipping it to your destination instead of carrying it with you on your flight. This is especially useful if you’re planning to travel for a while and need to send belongings home but don’t want to lug them from destination to destination. If you’re based in or traveling either to or from Australia, World Baggage offers secure excess baggage shipping. Their website will calculate the shipping cost based on destination, quantity, size, and weight, which will allow you to choose your smartest and most economical plan of action. They also provide real-time baggage tracking.
Never fear, dear travelers. Say goodbye to losing nights of sleep worrying if you’ll sneak your bag past airline staff. No longer will you have to lose those hard-earned dollars on airline pedantry when you could instead devote it to four extra nights in a hostel or entrance fees to six museums or even an additional international flight. ¡Sí se puede!