Remember the good old days when liquid items of any size were allowed in carry-on bags? It was great…I would get off the plane and exit the airport with barely a glance at the people waiting for their items to appear at the baggage claim.
Though I’d love to be out of the airport that quickly, I can’t leave my Rodan + Fields products or favorite toiletries behind. Oh and I have two kids. So, when we travel, I have to check bags.
My mom retired from a major airline, so I understand the financial strains they’ve faced in recent years. That doesn’t mean I like paying baggage fees though, so here are some tips to save some cash:
1. Have an airline miles credit card
I’ve written about this before. I have two airline credit cards. Though I pay an annual fee on both, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Each person in your party gets one bag for free, so for a family of four flying Delta (like we did at Christmas), you save $100.
2. Make your kids (and spouse) carry their own stuff
Each passenger is allowed one carry-on item and one personal item. I could easily overload my bag with kids’ iPads, books, coloring supplies and Chase’s laptop and DVDs. Instead, the kids each have a backpack, and Chase has a bag of his own. It’s better for my back and gives us more space for no cost!
3. Stow away extras in a car seat bag
This one only applies to parents of kids who use a car seat, but car seats are considered “special items,” so there are no baggage fees for checking them. When Clay was a baby we bought a car seat bag to keep his seat from getting beat up during our flight. I didn’t realize that the $20 we paid for it would more than make up for itself. Not only can you check them for free, but you can also easily throw extra items in with the seat, saving room in your checked bag. We did this with our coats for trip to North Carolina.
I always tell Chase that I know exactly how much to pack in our big suitcase to stay under the 50 pound weight limit, but the fancy new hair dryer I got for Christmas is pretty heavy, so I was over by a few pounds. I quickly opened up the suitcase and transferred a few items to the car seat bag, which saved us $100 in overweight bag fees.
4. Bring a rolling carry on
In our family, our small rolling suitcases are commonly referred to “rollies.” These bags were my only luggage back in the pre-kid, pre-liquid restrictions days. On our Christmas trip, we brought partially empty rollies, so we’d have some extra space to bring back the kids’ favorite gifts. We didn’t have to pay for them, but with most flights now being overbooked, it’s pretty likely they’ll check them at the gate for free to save overhead bin space. We had plenty of space for Clay’s Wii and Avery’s princess dresses, and we didn’t even have to roll them through the enormous Atlanta airport.
After two weddings and a Christmas trip, we won’t be flying anywhere for a while. But, when we do I’ll be saving money on baggage. Hopefully some of these tips will help you save too!