How Expert Travelers Get Away With Never Paying Checked Bag Fees

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Vacation budgets should be spent on bike tours through historic neighborhoods and mimosas on the beach—not surprise fees at the airport. But too often, travelers end up parting with up to $200 in checked bag charges before ever stepping on the plane. You may think that paying to check your bag is inevitable in some scenarios, but Market Watch recently spoke with a handful of travel experts who insist that's not the case.

No matter where they're traveling or how long they'll be away, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light author Erin McNeaney said she and her boyfriend fit everything they need into one backpack each. Her secret isn't some magic packing technique—rather, she writes in her book that adopting a minimalist mindset before preparing for a big trip is the simplest way to save space. That means sticking to a week's worth of essential, versatile pieces of clothing, leaving behind bulky items in favor of compact gadgets, and simplifying the beauty regimen you practice at home.

But you don't always need to travel quite so light in order to avoid baggage fees. Most airlines allow passengers to have one carry-on bag and one personal item at no extra cost. While the typical advice is to triple-check that your carry-on fits the size and weight limit before heading to the airport, traveling like an expert means taking advantage of every square inch of space that's allotted to you. The airline standard, taking both carry-on and personal item limits into account, is 78 liters worth. Use this free space wisely, all while making sure that your bags are still compact enough to make into the cabin.

As the weather gets colder in many parts of the world, packing efficiently becomes even more of a challenge. Here are some tips for taking a trip without leaving all your cozy sweaters behind.

[h/t Market Watch]