Finding affordable fares for air travel is challenging. Rising fees make it tougher to fings out some of the best deals, especially if you have luggage. Almost every leading airline has baggage fees. If you’re not careful, they can add to your travel costs that you hadn’t budgeted for and raise your trip’s overall price tag.

Here are some realistic steps to avoid baggage fees, depending on your destination and how comfortable you prefer to travel.

Pack Light

This is the standard advice for avoiding airline baggage fees and feels pretty obvious. But packing less is not easy, especially for if you’re traveling as a family with kids or don’t travel often. Plus, it may not feel very practical if you’re sacrificing something you want to bring with you when you fly. But with some serious thought and focusing on packing only what you truly need to bring on your trip, you can really reduce your baggage weight. So, for example, reconsider bringing your favorite jean jacket and opt instead for thinner clothing options that you can layer and mix together, which will be more lightweight than denim.

Use a Backpack

Airlines expect travelers to carry light backpacks. However, suitcase carry-on luggage can be seen as a container when heavyweight items are packed. And while a small suitcase can pack the same number of items, they can waste space (unless carrying rectangular bricks that fit perfectly into it). Backpacks are flexible and allow you to pack items more effectively.

Check-In Early

Airlines tend to be more lenient with travelers who check-in early with their luggage carrying extra weight than with latecomers. There’s a quota regarding how much they can let you get away without charge. So it’s always best to arrive before that quota is used up.

Book the Right Ticket

Some airlines provide airfare classes that include checked baggage. If you buy a premium ticket, you get a free checked suitcase. You also get this offer if you hold elite status with that airline.

Be Creative

When you’re flying to a warm destination, wear the bulkiest items on the plane. You won’t be weighed and jackets or coats do not count as carry-ons if you’re wearing them.

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Set Aside Some Time to Pack

Don’t pack at the last minute. If you do, you won’t have time to plan outfits. You should make a standard packing list to use when you are traveling (or download one). You should also pull your suitcase a week before you leave and start throwing in things at the time you think of them.

Work Your Wardrobe

Pack garments that can easily be mixed and matched to create several outfits. Go with neutral colors, or colorful tops and neutral pants. Look for attires that can work double or triple duty and be worn in different layers when it’s cold.

Check with the Airlines to Find Out if You Qualify for Exceptions

Several airlines offer exceptions for various passengers. This may include waiving or reducing baggage fees or providing one free checked bag with a carry-on for international flights. Others allow members of the military to check their bags at a reduced rate.

Get a Credit Card with Baggage Perks

Many of the credit cards with airline rewards offer free baggage as an incentive. If you’re a frequent flier, this can be an ideal option. You just need to use the card when buying your flight deals with the partnering airline to waive baggage fees. But be aware that airline credit cards may have special restrictions. Read the fine print before signing up. The right credit card may be worth it if, in the long run, you save money in baggage fees than paying the fees on the card.

Have your own tips and tricks on how to avoid baggage fees that we didn’t cover? Leave them in the comments section below!

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