90% of the time, I’m on team carry-on all the way, but sometimes you just have to check a bag. Here are some of my favorite tips to make the checked bag process easier, while saving you some dollars in the long run.
Know Your Airline’s Baggage Policy
First things first, it’s important to know your airline’s baggage policy. Many airlines have different rules regarding the number of bags you can check, weight limits, and fees. Avoid any nasty surprises by doing your research ahead of time. Will you save money if you prepay for any fees? This will also help you determine whether it’s worth it to check a bag at all, or if you can get away with just a carry-on.
Keep Valuables With You
Airlines have been known to lose luggage. Even though you’re checking a bag, still use the carry on option and keep your important items with you. This includes valuables, toiletries, electronics, undergarments, and at least 1-2 outfits. That way if your luggage is lost or delayed, you’re not completely at a loss.
When packing your checked bag, it’s important to do so smartly. Pack any fragile or valuable items securely and cushioned to avoid damage. You don’t want to arrive at your destination only to find your favorite souvenir smashed into a million pieces. Try to pack in layers, separating heavy items from delicate ones. This will help prevent damage from shifting during transit. Also, weigh your bag ahead of time. This will avoid you frantically scrambling through your bag at the airport trying to “make weight” because you didn’t realize you overpacked.
Label and Lock Your Bag
Labeling your checked bag may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. Put identification tags both inside and outside of your bag with your name, address, and contact information. This will help ensure that if your checked bag is lost or misplaced, it can be returned to you safely. It’s also a good idea to put a unique identifier on your checked bag, like a colorful ribbon or luggage tag, to make it easier to spot on the baggage carousel. Don’t forget to add a TSA approved lock to secure your belongings.
Save Money While Checking Your Bags
Now, let’s talk about how to save some money while checking your bags.
- Pack light to avoid exceeding your airline’s weight limit for checked bags. Overweight fees can be steep, so do your best to stay within the limits.
- Share a bag with your travel companion. This will reduce the number of bags you need to check and potentially save you some money.
- Use a travel rewards credit card that offers free checked bags. This can be an overlooked, but great way to save money while checking your bags. Many airline-branded credit cards offer this perk, so it’s worth looking into if you’re a frequent traveler. You can also earn rewards points or miles at the same time!
- Depending on the size and weight of your luggage, it may be cheaper to ship your bags to your destination instead of checking them with the airline. Shipping services like FedEx or UPS can be a great option for larger or heavier items, as they often have more competitive rates than airlines.
- Lastly, consider flying with a budget airline that offers lower fees for checked bags. While these airlines may not offer the same level of service or amenities as larger carriers, they can be a great option for budget-conscious travelers.
Remember to do your research ahead of time, pack smartly, label your bag, and consider ways to save money while checking your bags. With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be a pro at checking your bags in no time.