Guest Author - Julie Fredrick
With so many airlines consolidating or going out of business lately, I have noticed the pattern of increasing fees on checked, and even carry-on, luggage. Here is the latest information to help you decipher what youíll have to pay to bring along on an international trip.
US to Europe: Nearly every airline I checked allowed the first checked bag of 50 lbs (23KG) free. The second checked bag (up to 50lbs) generally cost between $40-50 USD. A third? Forget itónot worth the extra $50-100!
So how can we keep extra costs from adding up when we fly internationally?
Pack wisely. Clothing takes up most of the space in our luggage. Fortunately, many of the latest fabrics travel beautifully. Layers of clothing typically take up less space than bulky sweaters or coats. If you find yourself in a real jam, purchase items abroadóitís a great excuse to go shopping. Mix and match clothing allows you to have many different outfits with fewer pieces, and itís amazing what a simple scarf can do to completely change things up.
Consider bringing only a carry-on bag. Youíll be less constricted as you travel throughout countries and not stick out as a tourist, lugging all those heavy suitcases around.
Pack toiletries wisely. Consolidate what you can. I take dr. bronnerís castile soap to use as facial cleanser, shampoo and laundry soap. Itís concentrated, so a small bottle goes a long way.
Plan to wash clothes (the hotelís laundry either service or DIY) when staying somewhere more than one night. Pack clothes of a dark color and that resist wrinkling. Cotton clothing takes longer to dry than todayís travel-friendly fabrics.
For a woman, a pashmina or large scarf/shawl is a perfect substitute for a light sweater, and doubles as a blanket while in-flight. A sarong paired with the appropriate top can go a long way in Europe. It will provide modesty at necessary venues (churches, etc), can dress up a cute top for evening wear and is a perfect cover up at the beach. Remember, Europeans are not fond of skimpy shorts or baggy safari-type shorts.
Rolling clothing in those thin dry-cleaner bags keeps them from wrinkling as much, and takes less space than folding. Compression sacks cam shrink the size of bulky items into a fraction of normal, but beware of wrinkles in some fabrics.
Consider your choice of luggage. Soft- sided baggage is much easier to stow on planes, trains and automobiles. Many soft bags are convertible, having both wheels and backpack straps, allowing you greater mobility.
Packing cubes and various sized mesh bags make sorting through your gear simpler. Put toiletries in a clear plastic bag; socks, underwear in mesh bags. My husband and I keep a mesh bag with our travel comfort items, such as eye mask, earplugs, and inflatable pillow on an outside compartment of our luggage for easy access during the flight.
With the popularity of hand-held and compact computers such as laptops and iphones, it is not even necessary to lug all of the travel guidebooks with you. Information is now available at your fingertips. Internet cafes are now abundant around the world.
When in doubt, cull it out. Lay out all of the clothing you think youíll need, and cut back by half. Chances are, you wonít even miss it.
So, while you are packing for your next trip, consider ways to lighten your load. Your wallet will thank you.
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