Pack Your Bags Like a Pro for Vacation (And Avoid Pesky Baggage Fees)!

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I love to travel, but I hate all the fees connected to it — especially baggage fees when I pack. One man geniusly found a workaround for the $125 baggage fee on his British Airways flight from Iceland by wearing 10 shirts and eight pairs of pants. Airport security, rather than seeing through his sartorial creativity (because they probably couldn’t see through his shirts with the x-ray machine anyway), ordered him to take his extra layers off and barred him from boarding his flight. Perhaps they were jealous of his ingenuity.

In any case, there are other ways to pack for your vacation and avoid paying too much. Here are the best ways to pack like a pro and avoid as many fees as possible. And ,of course, still make your flight.

Look for airlines with low or no baggage fees


There are a few airlines that offer up to two checked bags for free, and many more that offer $25 or less. Book with these airlines and you might find some cheap options for flights too.

Take your trip day by day

Close-up of woman packing a suitcase.

Overpacking is the cardinal sin of traveling. If your carry-on luggage gets too big, airlines will charge you for a checked bag. Here’s a rundown of what you should bring, and how many.

Underwear, socks, and undershirts: Pack one pair of each of these for each day you’re staying.

Tops: Pack two fewer tops than the days you’re staying. Wear the same outfit on the flight home as you wore on the flight there.

Bottoms: Pack a pair for every other day.

Shoes: One comfortable pair plus a pair of sandals.

Toiletries: Stick to small, TSA-approved bottles.

Rolling vs. folding


Some say rolling is the best way to save space in your bag. Others say folding. I’ve done both, and my wisdom says both are right! Fold clothes you can’t bare to get wrinkled, such as lace and dress shirts. Cotton, knits, and wool should be rolled, since they’re more durable. Always roll pants, unless they’re slacks or dress pants, in which case you should fold them. Roll multiple shirts into one big roll instead of rolling each shirt individually.

Pack in layers


Now to the actual packing. Grab a rolling suitcase and open it. Shoes go first. Stuff as many pairs of underwear and socks into them as you can. Next goes heavier rolled items, such as pants. If you have any fragile items, set them on top of the heavy rolled items. Lighter rolled items go next, followed by folded items. Place your toiletries on top. Accessories and other small items such as hats or belts can be shoved into any open crevice.


If you think you’re going to run out of room to pack your dirty clothes, find a local laundromat. Some hotels have one on their grounds, but all vacation destinations should have one close-by. If not, you can buy a compression bag. Alternatively, if you want clean clothes when you get home, you can try using detergent pods or a detergent pen.

Follow these tips, and you won’t have to dress in 10 layers only to get stranded at the airport. If you manage to make it through security with a checked bag and less than 10 layers of clothing, then hats — excuse me — hat off to you!

Now that you know how to pack, you need somewhere to go. Check out our list of top US and international destinations for ideas!