ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway
Airline baggage fees can quickly add up for frequent flyers. At $50 per roundtrip flight, checking a bag is too expensive to be practical. We’ve shared our own packing tips in the past, but we thought we’d give everyone a fresh perspective from Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, to get all the facts and fixes for packing light as a means to avoid baggage fees. Even if you have the status or a loyalty credit card that allows for a free checked bag, you’re still at the mercy of the airlines. Checking a bag is always a risk. Your luggage could be lost, misrouted or damaged.
Traveling carry-on-only is ideal. You’ll save money and spend less time waiting around for your bags at the airport. Packing light doesn’t have to be as difficult as many travelers imagine it to be. Below are the guidelines you need to know for traveling with only a carry-on bag.
Carry-on luggage rules vary by airline. Most airlines do not allow bags larger than 45 linear inches (length + width + height). If your airline breaks it down by each dimension, 22 x 14 x 9″ is the most common configuration. These dimensions are a good rule of thumb when shopping for luggage.
Forty pounds is the usual weight limit outside of budget airlines, which are more strict. The lighter you can travel, the better.
Airlines are strict with liquids and gels. The TSA’s rule is 3-1-1.
Your liquids must be in bottles of 3.4 ounces or less. You must carry them in a “1 quart transparent plastic bag hermetically sealed.” Each passenger may carry one such bag.
The TSA is not flexible on these rules so follow them to the letter.
You can find travel-sized toiletries at Target or your local drug store. If you can’t find your favorite brand, try 3 Fl Oz, which only sells travel-sized bottles. For any must-have products that only come in larger sizes, buy a GoToob. GoToobs are refillable, rubber travel bottles for your toiletries.
You don’t have to scour the internet to put together your toiletry kit. Most products can be bought at your destination for the same price or less as at home. Buy anything that costs less than $10 and that you won’t need in transit after you land. I find that having a toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash on hand can be a lifesaver after long flights.
Fred Perrotta helps travelers pack everything they need without checking a bag. He is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, makers of the ultimate travel backpack.
In Part 2 of our packing series, we will cover how to pack a light wardrobe while still looking good.