One of the most annoying parts of traveling by plane is the cost of checking in luggage. This can feel like an extra curse on top of the other expenses of a trip. By booking early and using a broker to find the best deals, you can make some good savings, but another great way I have found to save on my flight is reducing the number of bags I put in the hold—or even traveling with hand luggage only. Here are my five top tips for lighter packing and big cost savings:
1. Ditch the toiletries
The heaviest items in most people's luggage are usually the toiletries. When I travel I know I’m going to need shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, hand cream, moisturizer, and all the other bits and pieces that I use every day. The problem is that these items are normally in liquid form so they can weigh a substantial amount, really cutting into my baggage allowance.
Instead of taking the big bottles or even decanting them into smaller bottles, I now ditch my toiletries altogether and replace them where possible with small, solid versions or buy common items at my destination. It can be fun to try the local produce!
Remember all those free shampoo and conditioner tubes you get in hair dyes and hair care treatment packs? These come in handy for traveling and are super-light. Of course, if you are staying in a hotel, many will give you free shampoo and shower gel, but not usually conditioner (a crazy oversight considering most women use conditioner), which is why those tubes are so useful.
Body lotion can also double up as hand cream, and wet wipes are great for removing makeup without having to cart liquid cleanser around.
2. Wear a big coat!
When cutting down on luggage, it can pay to wear a big coat with lots of deep pockets! I pack items into the pockets of my coat at check-in and wear a cardigan with pockets too for even more spaces to fill. Deep pockets are ideal for carrying snacks, water bottles, magazines, mobile phones, purses and other items that would otherwise weigh your bag down. I always wear my heavy, bulky clothing to travel in.
3. Get creative
Being ruthless with my packing is always difficult, but I've found that if I get creative with my wardrobe, I can ditch the carry-on bag altogether. In order do this, I think in terms of creative outfits, selecting clothes from the same color palette (for example, neutrals), and making sure each item can be worn with the others for ultimate versatility. I love reversible bikinis too for turning one choice of swimwear into two.
I always pack for the climate, even if it means leaving behind my favorite winter skirt. If you’re going to a hot location, think thin lightweight dresses and sandals. Dresses are great for the minimal packer because they offer a whole outfit in just one item. They also look smarter than separates too, so they can double up for evening wear—simply take a cardigan or shawl for colder nights.
I find smart casual is always best for going from day into evening, so I don't need to worry about two separate wardrobes for both. A pretty summer dress looks great on the beach, out shopping, and in a restaurant.
My number one love for versatility is a sarong because this scrunches up small and has multiple uses: as a skirt, cover-up, blanket, shawl, hair wrap, towel, sheet and much more. The important thing is to pack versatile and coordinating clothes to create a series of interchangeable outfits.
4. Think lightweight, synthetic materials
Although I love cotton, man-made fibers are lighter and more travel-friendly due to their crease-resistant and quick-dry properties. For colder locations, a Polartec fleece is feather light and incredibly warm, while crinkle fabrics are always a traveler's best friend because they are lightweight and supposed to look crumpled—I love my crinkly gypsy skirt. Remember, you can always wash items if you run out—and drying synthetic clothes is easy and fast, especially in hot climates.
5. Roll—don't fold
A series of long clothes sausages takes up less space than a stack of folded tops, so it's easy to create more space in every bag by rolling clothes rather than folding them. Just grab a long skirt and lay it out flat, then roll tightly up from the bottom.
With these five tips you should be able to pack light and never again suffer the expense and personal indignity of an excess baggage charge!