Destination I Do
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Travel Tuesday - How to Avoid Checking a Bag

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by: Brett Snyder

It’s a general rule that people want to avoid checking bags when they fly at all costs. It was bad enough when you simply feared that your bag wouldn’t show up at the other end, but now that the airlines make you pay for the privilege, it becomes even more important to find a better way to get your stuff to your destination.

The easiest thing to do is get married on a beach in your swimsuit. Problem solved. (I tried this one on my wife for our honeymoon, but it didn’t exactly go over very well.) The reality is, you can find a way to pack smart, and that means you can get things to fit in a carry-on bag.

First of all, how big can that carry-on be? Most of the big guys in the US have standardized around 45 linear inches total (length x width x height). But some low cost carriers will let you bring more. Frontier allows 49 inches. Southwest, Virgin America, and JetBlue’s Embraer 190 aircraft allow 50 inches. AirTran allows 55 inches, and JetBlue’s larger A320 aircraft allow 56 inches. So pick your airline wisely.

Now you’ve got your bag, but you still need to fit everything in there. You can use an old flight attendant trick and roll your clothes instead of folding them. You’ll fit more in your bag that way. But what really takes up the most room? Toiletries and shoes.

Again, I go back to the beach idea. Flip flops are a lot smaller than hiking boots . . . I find, however, that toiletries are usually the downfall of most wannabe carry-on travelers. That dreaded 3 oz liquid rule kills most dreams of carrying on. Just remember, anything you don’t have in a 3 oz size can usually be dumped into a smaller bottle that will fit. And if it can’t, it’s safe to say that you’ll be able to buy what you need when you arrive. If that’s really not possible, then you can always stick the offending items in a box and ship it ahead. That will still end up being cheaper than paying to check a bag anyway.

I understand that for men, this is a lot easier. I brought a duffel bag on my two week honeymoon in Tahiti while my wife had a huge, honking checked bag full of, well, shoes and toiletries I think. Most people won’t be able to carry on for a trip that long, but for shorter trips, these tricks should help.
For more on Brett Snyder, The Cranky Flier, click here.

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