Send those overweight luggage fees packing

Published11/11/2007 12:08 AM

Recently, I was checking in for a flight home when I was told I would need to pay $45 because my suitcase was over the designated weight limit.

I refused to shell over the cash.


Instead, I took my luggage off the scale, opened it up, pulled out an empty duffel and transferred a few items into that spare suitcase that I had brought along for just such an occasion.

This took a matter of moments, which inspired a smile from the airline agent standing behind the counter. She happily gave me my boarding pass along with two baggage receipts and I was on my way, not a penny poorer than I had been before the check-in ritual began.

Although some of my colleagues tease me that I overpack, I don't mind because I know I will use everything (or nearly everything) I take sometime during the trip.

Besides, I am very organized. Every stitch of clothing goes into big plastic freezer bags with zip-lock tops. They are packed by type:

Scarves go in a scarf bag, tops in another, skirts in another, workout clothes in another, etc. I end up with many bags inside my big suitcase, each with its own purpose.

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Other stuff -- such as toiletries, costume jewelry, electrical cords and cosmetics -- are assigned their own containers made for carrying such items. So, my yellow-and-red mini bag with the plastic lining gets filled with deodorant and perfume while the blue, velvet-lined box gets my beads and hair accessories.

Then there is that extra duffel, a lightweight affair that is there waiting for an emergency inflicted either because I went on a shopping jag while I was away or simply because I accrued a bunch of extra paperwork during the trip.

For me, packing is an art form. Following are some other ways in which I get my luggage ready for a journey:

• Although I pack my costume jewelry in my checked luggage, I wear anything in that category worth more than $30. Those items usually consist of one ring on the index finger of my left hand and one watch attached to my right wrist that tells time in two different places.

• I don't take too many shoes although I do have colleagues who are like I once was and insist on lugging around half a dozen pairs, most of which they never wear. These days, I take a pair of sneakers that resemble respectable walking shoes as well as a pair of patent leather flats that are packed in their own zip-locked bag after being stuffed with rolled-up socks so they don't lose their shape.

• I don't take anything in my carry-on that is superfluous or too heavy. I make a choice of reading material that is either in paperback form or downloaded onto my laptop. I take along small containers of officially labeled medicines I have been prescribed, procured from the drugstore in smaller-than-usual bottles for the sole purpose of travel. I take my cell phone, a few DVDs, the bare minimum of makeup, a tiny digital camera, a change of clothes and the little airport-authorized plastic bag of travel-sized liquids (perfume, deodorant and some hand lotion).

• I put more-important things, such as my passport and wallet, in a handbag that I sling over my shoulder and voila! I am off on another adventure with complete confidence that I have packed all it takes to have everything I need with me while not having so much that a lot of it becomes a travel burden instead of a travel asset.

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