Photo by Macaulay Thompson. IG: @mytravelstamps

How many chronic over packers do you have in your personal network? You know what I mean. Those friends and family members who struggle with two to three bulging suitcases on every trip. Plus, they always end up paying extra dollars for additional bags or being overweight. Unless it’s Christmas vacation when you’re schlepping presents halfway around the country or world for expectant kids, or it’s a special occasion where you’re relocating, there’s no need to get bogged down with anything more than your carry-on and a personal item. Yes, really! All it takes is a little planning and the conviction that sometimes less is more.

This is a no-judgment zone here, but just in case that person is YOU, it’s time to join Team Carry-on!

Here are five easy steps to save on those pesky baggage fees:

Invest in a good suitcase


Your road to baggage fees freedom often starts with investing in sturdy, lightweight luggage. Sometimes the extra weight is caused by the bags, not you! The older the suitcase, the greater the likelihood that the frame is heavier than the current norm. So, even though you may love the vintage suitcase you have (Jamaicans, read Dulcimina — LOL), I encourage you to do some research on the multiple lightweight options that are now available.


Wear the heaviest pieces of clothing


Bulky items like winter coats, jackets, sneakers and boots take up much needed space and weigh a lot. So, since I’m always cold anyway, I always wear my heaviest shoes and sweaters in airports and carry my winter jacket over my arm until I need to put it on.

Mix and match items


Have a loose idea of the things you want to see and do while away and plan your outfits accordingly. Never pack everything you take out of your closet on the first go-round. Also, color coordinate pieces so you can mix and match a bunch of blouses or shirts with a few bottoms, which are usually the weightier items. Lastly, it never hurts to throw in one or two pieces that transition well from day to night, when nicely accessorized.

Forget about the fold


There are differing opinions on this technique due to potential wrinkling, but in my experience, clothes that are rolled take up less space and they fit better into all the nooks and crannies of your bag. You know, like those rounded corners or awkward spaces between the support bars down at the bottom? The key to overcoming rumpling is sticking to fabrics like polyester, knits, rayon, fleece, spandex and other microfiber material that don’t wrinkle easily. Or, if you’re into cotton and linens like me, just mentally commit to a one-time mass use of your hotel iron when you get to your destination.

Order matters


Always put the heaviest items like shoes and full-length jeans at the bottom. They should be closest to the area where the wheels will be when the bag is standing upright. You can also maximize space by filling shoes and hollow items with smaller items like socks, jewelry, and travel-sized toiletries.

Keep up with Macaulay’s adventures around the world via her Instagram feed and read her travel stories and tips on her blog at:

More From Macaulay Thompson:

How to Pack Your Life in a Carry-On with 5 Easy Steps How to Pack Your Life in a Carry-On with 5 Easy Steps How to Pack Your Life in a Carry-On with 5 Easy Steps How to Pack Your Life in a Carry-On with 5 Easy Steps


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