Traveling Light
September 22, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

When packing for two seasons, how can I avoid airline baggage fees on size and weight?

In a few weeks, I am flying (Delta Airlines) to an area that will have chilly autumn mornings followed by very warm desert afternoons. As a result, I will have different clothing requirements depending upon time of day. I will be packing for two seasons. The trip duration is six days and I will have no access to laundry facilities. To avoid extra airline baggage fees, I want to keep size and weight to a minimum.

What are your suggestions for what I should take and what I should leave at home, as well as any useful packing techniques? Thanks as always for your assistance.
posted by netbros to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Can you not ship a package ahead of you? Hotel front desks are used to such things, and won't bat an eye if you call to warn them that UPS will be arriving.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:04 AM on September 22, 2008

I've traveled with one carry-on since I was 12, including during several round-the-world, 1 year + jaunts. It is far more daunting to pack to a weekend than a year (IMO) but it can be done. Try the techniques in One Bag.

It isn't clear from your post if you'll need work clothes, outdoorsy clothes, etc for your two season trip so I won't make trip-specific suggestions, but if wrinkling isn't a concern, try rolling each of your garments tightly then fitting them tightly into the suitcase. It is far easier to fit more clothing tightly rolled than folded.

Eliminate extraneous things from your luggage and you'll find traveling with one (carry-on) bag surprisingly easy and liberating. Plus no extra fees for you.
posted by arnicae at 7:16 AM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Last time I was in this situation, I was traveling by backpack and ended up being somewhere colder than I expected. I stopped by a thrift store and picked up a jacket for a few dollars, and left it in the "free" bin at the hostel when I was done with it.
posted by nitsuj at 7:21 AM on September 22, 2008

Response by poster: It isn't clear from your post if you'll need work clothes, outdoorsy clothes, etc for your two season trip

This is a pleasure trip where I will be doing back country hiking.
posted by netbros at 7:25 AM on September 22, 2008

You sould wear your heaviest clothes and dress in layers on the plane. It's a pain to take off hiking boots at airport security, but it's a lot easier than packing and carrying them in a bag, and very easy to take off a sweater/jacket/hat on the plane. I often carry one of those lightweight cloth paper-type bags with me and get on the plane and then take off my jacket/sweater/top shirt and just carry them in some easily smushed bag off the plane.
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2008

You think you need more than 50 lbs per bag for a 6 day trip? First checked bag is still free on Delta, so as long as you keep it to one reasonable-sized checked bag and one carry-on, you should have no problems.
posted by smackfu at 7:55 AM on September 22, 2008

Presumably you'll have to carry all your clothes for the duration of the hike, which to me seems like a stronger constraint than airline luggage rules anyway?

You don't want to change outfits at lunchtime every day, what you need is a layered outfit that you can peel off over the course of the day. For hiking, you might be able to wear those pants that zip off to make shorts, or just light pants (depending how backcountry it is you might want to have your legs covered even in the heat). Top level = a short sleeve shirt with some kind of long sleeve shirt under/over it as you prefer, and a jumper. I don't know how cold 'chilly autumn' means, but you might want a beanie (for overnight as well), perhaps long underwear to wear at the start of each day and maybe two layers of jumpers. A sunhat is usually worth having. Also a good idea to have a waterproof coat.
I would take
-two pairs pants/shorts
-six pairs underwear
-six pairs thick socks
-four/five short sleeve shirts
-two/three long sleeve shirts (you'll be wearing them less)
-one/two jumpers
-pyjamas? according to personal preference. Can you repurpose what you wear during the day?
-beanie, sunhat, sunscreen, gloves?
-waterproof jacket

And wear the bulkiest of them on the plane - your hiking boots, thickest pants, at least one jumper, maybe carry the jacket instead of packing it.

The thickness and material of the clothes will depend on exactly what temperatures you're expecting, but that's the general idea.
posted by jacalata at 8:03 AM on September 22, 2008

Response by poster: Presumably you'll have to carry all your clothes for the duration of the hike

Fortunately, it's easier than that. This trip will be a series of one-day hikes followed by nights in small-town motels.

I expect morning temps in the 35-45 degree range with afternoon highs approaching 85.
posted by netbros at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2008

Yes, wear your heaviest stuff on the plane and as much of it as possible. Also use your carryon for your heaviest stuff. I have a biggish backpack I use and I can fit quite a lot into it if I'm creative. You can fit even more into your backpack if you use compression bags.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:09 AM on September 22, 2008

You don´t have to actually wear your coat through security and onto the plane, you can just carry it. Wear your hiking boots. You shouldn´t have any trouble fitting the remainder into your carry on and ¨personal item¨.
posted by yohko at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the responses, and to arnicae for the One Bag link. It seems the general consensus is to wear the heaviest stuff on the travel days. I will certainly do that.
posted by netbros at 6:07 AM on September 23, 2008

Hiking in similar conditions to that (chilly night-time and mornings but warm days), I've found that the best rule of thumb is to pack more changes of the clothes next to your skin, and fewer versions of each thing as you layer out.

For example, you only need one jacket / fleece--that should be perfectly wearable for all 6 days being worn over and over. However, the t-shit-like base layer that lies right next to your skin? You should maybe pack 6 pairs of those, since it'll get very stinky during hiking, and the last thing you'll want to do is to put it back on another day.

I'd recommend 1 set of clothes for hiking each day (6 pairs underwear, 6 pairs socks, 6 lightweight shirts, 1-2 pairs of lightweight hiking pants, and 1 fleece), then 1 set of clothes for changing into each night at the motel, after you've finished your hikes and are washed up (probably only 2 different versions, since these won't get stinky--2 long-sleeve shirts and one pair of heavier pants, like jeans).

Also: bring a big plastic bag for your stinky clothes. You don't want your stinky, post-hike clothes to be rubbing up against your nice, unworn stuff, or it defeats the whole point. This is a very easy thing to forget, and it will make you sad when the funk spreads throughout your wardrobe.
posted by iminurmefi at 3:41 PM on September 23, 2008

Response by poster: I was able to get everything I needed packed with just 35 pounds of weight, so I did not incur any additional baggage charges. The trip was wonderful. Thanks again to everyone for your packing advice.
posted by netbros at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2008

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