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Broke-Ass Travel: Cramming All Your Stuff In a Carry-on To Avoid Checking a Bag

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I hate when places charge extra money for what are pretty much essential services. Airlines are the worst at this. Last time I flew Delta, I had to pay for the in-flight movie, which I consider an outrage. I need that movie in order to forget that at any moment I could be plummeting to my death.

But one thing I refuse to do when at all possible is pay to check a bag. Bag check fees vary according to the airline — most hover around $25 — but thankfully they are easy to avoid if you know how to pack.

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1) Wear all your bulkiest clothes on the flight

Anything you can’t fit in your carry-on, put on your body.

2) Roll your clothes

Flight attendants confirm: rolling your clothes is the most space-efficient means of packing. Your carry-on suitcase will turn into a Mary Poppins bag of seemingly endless space.

3) Free laundry at your parents’ means you really only need two or three outfits anyway

Sometimes I make a purposeful effort to save up some dirty clothes specifically to launder them at my parents’.


4) Other savings: pack your own travel snacks

This is also good for health reasons, because travel is stressful and in times of stress, many people naturally turn to Cinnabon for comfort. Later of course we all regret this, and the best way to avoid buying gross, expensive airport food out of sheer stress and boredom is to pack snacks. I recommend Trader Joe’s trail mixes, granola bars, or fruit roll-up things.

5) Take public transportation to the airport

When you’re traveling with just a carry-on, taking the subway or bus to the airport isn’t all that bad. The key is to give yourself enough time. It’s usually good to take the estimated travel time on hopstop and double it.

Happy traveling everyone!!

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Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of Gerald R. Ford, Andy Richter, and, at one point, the guy who wrote Mr. Holland's Opus. She moved to NYC for her degree in library science, and is now in the Media Studies program at The New School. She hopes to one day be a film studies librarian. Ask her anything about Dewey Decimal – anything! – and she will roll her eyes because academic libraries use Library of Congress. Durrr.


  1. […] this service still exists at some airports, but if you’re in a hurry or feeling fancy with your non carry-ons, tip a dollar per bag when you check your luggage at the […]