Lighten your load

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Let's be honest - baggage fees really bug me.

But even worse than checked baggage fees that continue to go up - regardless of where you pay them - are the overweight bag fees. On most airlines, they've gone from a mere annoyance to a big expense.

Once fixed at a more than ample limit of 75 pounds, checked bag weights have been whittled away to 50 pounds per bag over the past few years, even for international travel. Find yourself checking a bag weighing 51 pounds and you could be out some major bucks.

I know there are plenty of folks who can pack a week's worth of clothes into a carry on bag, although I have to admit, I'm not one of them. While I am no longer one of those "different outfit every day" travelers, I still find that the length of my trips often means a full suitcase.

So what can we do to lighten our load? These are my favorite ways to pack smart - and pack light:

Pick one or two colors and build every outfit around it. Black, navy, tan and red are great basic colors, letting you coordinate many days worth of clothes and accessories around a few items.

If you can't wear an outfit basic more than one way - say switching out a top or adding a sweater or jacket - don't bring it.

Travel light when it comes to toiletries! I used to bring full-sized bottles of shampoo and hair styling products in my kit. No more! Now I'm using large Ziploc bags and travel sized everything. The Ziploc bag can be packed flat, or rolled up to stash down the side of your suitcase. This has been a big space and baggage weight saver for me! Also, consider using toiletries with more than one function - a moisturizer with SPF or a bath gel that also can be used as shampoo. Again - every bit helps!

Shoes are heavy! Try to bring no more than two pair, and perhaps a pair of flip-flops or sandals you can use as slippers in your hotel room or ship's stateroom.

Wear your heaviest shoes and clothes on the plane. And consider bringing clothes made from some of today's new and light fabrics. This works even for formal nights on cruises! I used to bring a dress made of a very heavy knit and then two beaded or decorated jackets. Those jackets made their way into my bags for several trips - until I weighed them!! My beaded jacket alone weighed almost five pounds! Now I bring two fancy blouses and a lightweight skirt. They're still dressy, but take up a fraction of the space, let alone cutting way down on luggage weight.

Leave your valuables at home. This won't just lighten your load - it's a safety tip, too. Wearing lots of jewelry makes you stand out as a tourist when traveling. If you can't stand to lose it, don't bring it!

Fold your clothes with a "stacker." My fabulous mother-in-law made mine, but you can use a large magazine or piece of cardboard. Place it on top of your clothing item, near the neckline or waistband, fold in from the sides and then from the bottom to the top. Having your clothes folded in a uniform size makes them easy to organize and saves so much space!

Invest in a new suitcase. Older bags often weigh 15 to 18 precious pounds when they're empty! Newer bags often weigh 10 pounds or less, even with wheels. It makes a big difference!

A good luggage scale is worth the cost - and the little bit of added weight. My luggage scale has already paid for itself 10 times over in avoided fees. If you're going to a destination where you know you'll be purchasing lots of souvenirs - and who doesn't like to buy souvenirs - you'll want to weigh your bags before you go to the airport, toss your scale in the suitcase and weigh them again before you come home. That way, you'll know in advance if you need to shift items to your carry on to avoid those fees!

And now for the fun stuff, there are lots of great specials this week!

Several terrific all-inclusive resorts in both the Hotel Zone and the Riviera Maya are offering fantastic rates for October and November!

The rates below include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights accommodation as noted (all meals and beverages - including alcohol), airport transfers and more! Midweek travel will often offer the best rates, but good weekend rates are available, too.

Gran Porto Real
Junior Suite
From $749.00 per person, double occupancy
I love this pretty property! It's right in the town of Playa del Carmen, and it's right on the beach!

Royal Solaris Cancun
Ocean View Room
From $779.00 per person, double occupancy
Very comfortable property right in the Hotel Zone!

Barcelo Colonial and Tropical
Deluxe Room
From $799.00 per person, double occupancy
These twin properties sit right on one of the prettiest beaches in the Riviera Maya!

One of my favorite cruise lines is offering 7-night cruises out of the Los Angeles for some amazing rates!

If you can travel in October or November, you can get Inside Staterooms from $359.00 per person! Ocean View Staterooms start at $559.00 per person! These incredible rates are "cruise only," meaning government taxes and transportation to Los Angeles are additional. Find a good airfare or heck, drive over, and you will get a real deal.

The ship stops in Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta along with three days at sea so grab your passport and get ready to sail!

March 11 - March 20
$2399.00 per person, double occupancy!

I've still got space on this custom itinerary! Check out all the details at my agency site,, then give me a call to reserve your space!

Across the country or around the globe, we're planning your next vacation at Travelation Online! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623, call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at I look forward to hearing from you!