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Carry-on baggage | 10 ways to avoid extra cost

The picture shows a weighing scale than can be used to weigh carry on baggage

1. Do the hard work yourself… carry the kilos!

Even small, handy objects can sometimes be extremely heavy. In these cases, it makes sense to carry these objects on your person. This doesn‘t mean that you should wear three sweaters and the four pairs of woollen socks your grandmother gave you, but a good jacket with various outside and inside pockets is not a bad idea. A highly recommended travel jacket can be found at Amazon. The XY37 jacket offers you an unbelievable amount of space – enough for several items that you would otherwise need to carry in your hand luggage. For example, the jacket features an integrated, ergonomically shaped neck pillow, an integrated sleeping mask, space for a standing drink (!), an extra pocket for ear plugs, a pocket for sunglasses, a particularly long pocket for your wallet, a dedicated pocket for a tablet and some other handy little helpers for the enthusiastic frequent flyer. This means you can easily carry 3–5kg of weight yourself without getting into trouble. Have you ever seen someone at the airport who has been intercepted at security checkpoints because they weigh too much? I didn’t think so!

2. Many routes lead to Rome

Say you want to fly to Rome for the weekend; you regularly fly Swiss Airlines and the maximum weight for hand luggage is set at 8kg. But you really want to bring your three pairs of jeans, your new blouse and a beautiful dress for a very special musical evening in Rome. With all that stuff you want to bring, 8kg may be cutting it a bit fine. So why don’t you compare the carry-on baggage regulations of various airlines serving your destination first? Some airlines do not have a weight limit for carry-on baggage (such as American Airlines) and that would immediately solve the problem for you. As long as you keep to the dimensions of your hand luggage, you are on the safe side – and you get to take the whole fashionable arsenal. Different airlines (and airports) have different regulations regarding hand luggage and while the weight limit of carry-on baggage is usually 7–10kg, it’s worth seeing if there is an airline that does not have a limit at all.

3. Lightweight baggage is the way to go!

Luggage varies considerably in weight, depending on the materials used – which range from aluminum to nylon – and its construction. This is an especially crucial consideration for carry-on baggage where you are only allowed to carry a few kilos, so you should make sure you choose a reliable lightweight as your luggage companion. For example, the Samsonite Uplite Spinner (smallest size) is a good choice; this lightweight champion weighs only 1.7kg. If you prefer something a little more elegant and refined, you might be weakened by the sight of the hand luggage from the high-quality German manufacturer, Rimowa. The Salsa Air Cabin Multiwheel (38 litre capacity) with its 2kg is slightly heavier than Samsonite’s offering, but its classy and stylish appearance makes this small deficit easy to bear.

4. Put some items in your laptop bag

Most airlines allow you to carry two pieces of carry-on luggage: one cabin bag (suitcase or backpack) and a handbag or laptop bag. Most people just try to put as much as they can into that cabin bag, but don‘t forget the laptop bag. It might be small, but there is almost always some free space for some heavy objects. Try to cram them in there – it might save you a kilo or two in your regular hand luggage. That is actually how I made it to China last year. Oh boy, I was sweating blood at the airport but it all worked out fine. Lucky me!

5. Invest in a luggage scale

The suitcase feels like 9kg, but only 8kg are allowed with airline XYZ… However, it could just be that appearances are deceiving! Ignoring the weight of your carry-on luggage is a dangerous game, because many airlines do check the weight of your hand luggage. To be sure you‘re on the safe side, buy a luggage scale. At Amazon you can get such a scale for about 10 Euro. It’s definitely a good investment and only a fraction of what you‘d have to pay in excess costs at the airport.

6. Show up at the airport on time

Sounds banal, but it makes sense. You’ll only be able to remove excess weight from your carry-on and stow it in your regular suitcase, or even check in your carry-on luggage (for an extra charge, if possible), if you arrive at the airport in good time.

Tip: Check the weight of your hand luggage when checking in your regular baggage. Or take into account tip 4, even better! This way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and travel stress-free.

7. Get yourself an e-reader

Would you like to take all seven Harry Potter volumes on holiday and devour the Stieg Larsson Trilogy Blinding – Damnation – Forgiveness again? With an average 8kg limit for carry-on luggage, taking these books in softback or hardback form could cause you to go over. A better option is to get an e-reader, such as a Kindle. An e-reader weighs only around 200g, offers great functions such as a digital dictionary and space for thousands of books. It’s never too late to buy a Kindle; even my mum has one and now she probably couldn’t do without it.

8. Your suitcase – what do you really really need?

It is always very tempting to take more than is actually necessary, but do you really need three different pairs of shoes for your short trip to London? And will you really find the time to dedicate yourself to your new book while you are there? (If you follow tip 6, this point will of course be dropped.) Sometimes it also makes sense to think about what you can buy really cheaply on arrival at your destination – there is no need to carry 2kg of toothpaste if you can get it almost free in your target country. If necessary, also find out the weather forecast at your destination. If the weather will be good to fantastic, you can save your rain jacket and thick fibre fur – or at least one of them.

9. Return by parcel service

Send your carry-on luggage back! If you have serious doubts about whether your heavily packed hand luggage will make it through check-in and security due to excessive shopping, a return by parcel service might come in handy. Moreover, when returning your stuff by post, you do not have to worry too much about the content. Things like fluids, knives and batteries come to mind! In fact, there are many objects that can get you in trouble when “mistakenly” carried in carry-on baggage! I bet you know this already. However, even if sending back some items sounds tempting, don’t forget to call the airline first and ask if you might be able to check in your hand luggage as a piece of regular luggage instead, as this might be cheaper than returning it by parcel service.

10. You should never give up… wrong!

If you are worried that you will not be able to comply with the airline’s weight limit for hand luggage, simply give up! Well, at least give up your carry-on luggage. As a rule, you can also check in an (additional) piece of hand luggage for a surcharge. In most cases, you can easily book additional items of luggage online. In spite of all this, first obtain thorough information from your airline and ask for the exact regulations. Not every airline handles these things in the same way. However, early check-in of additional items of luggage can save you a lot of trouble and, above all, money.