With most airlines charging for checked luggage, air travelers are getting savvy about how to pack and when to just "pack it in," and accept paying the fees in order to get all the things they need to their final destination.
There are many benefits to checking your bags, including not having to limit as severely what you pack, not worrying about size of liquids, the actual lifting and carrying of bags through the airport, and not having to fight over the overhead bin space once you're on the airplane.
Of course limiting yourself to carry-on is a great time saver when you land, and there is a comfort in knowing that your luggage will actually arrive with you, with minimal chance of having items stolen or damaged within.
Air Canada and West Jet both currently charge a fee for the first checked bag when flying on a non-transferrable economy class ticket, within Canada and the US. This cost is between $25 to $29 depending on applicable taxes. International travelers get the first checked bag free with both airlines, but the second checked bag costs upwards of $100. You'll want to check your airline's website for fees and weight and size restrictions, as oversized bags have additional fees, as do special items such as golf bags and skis.
Some airlines have an "economy plus" option, where you pay an additional fee for better leg room and some inflight amenities, and it can also include a free checked bag. Always worth investigating.
If you have "status" with Air Canada (and some other airlines with loyalty programs), you may be eligible for free checked bags.
But whether you're a carry on or a checked bag person, get the most out of your suitcase space with these packing hack tips:
Plan what you need. Create an agenda of what you hope to do while away, and put together suitable outfits. Lay the clothes out, and roll up the clothes, by outfit. Easy to unpack and fit more in your suitcase. Avoids packing the "just in case" additional seven pieces of clothing you rarely wear.
Start from the shoes you'll need, and work up. Makes it easier to avoid two pairs of heels, or flats. Try to stick to one type of each shoe you'll want.
Buy travel size shampoos, conditioners, and other hygiene items. Liquids are heavy and half empty full size bottles take up valuable suitcase space.
Tuck socks into shoes, scarves and sweaters into hats, and roll belts inside shirt collars.
Plan on wearing certain items of clothing at least twice (jackets, pants, sweaters), if you can. Mix and match.
If you're taking jewelry, try to take pieces that work across several outfits. I often travel with (and wear) just one necklace, bracelet, and earrings, that go together and with the clothes I take.
Plan on wearing your heaviest coat or jacket both on the plane on the way there, and back (unless you have extra space in your suitcase).
Don't throw in extra items just because you have leftover space. Leave that space open for purchases you make while traveling, or dirty laundry that doesn't always come home rolled up.
If you're traveling with a companion, put half of each of your clothes in each other's suitcases so that if one bag goes missing, you'll both have some clothes to wear.
Don't forget to purchase travel insurance, which can help to protect against lost or damaged luggage.
This blog originally ran on What She Said, on SiriusXM Canada Channel 167. Tune in every second Friday to hear Kathy's "How She Travels" travel tips.
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