"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..." So sings the trio Peter, Paul & Mary in the classic '70's song. Like all of us who traveled in those days, I'd venture a guess they had no worries about the weight, content or amount of luggage they toured around with. Back then there were few luggage fees. No 3-1-1 rule. No bare feet through security, and no pat downs. We just packed our bags, checked in as many as we wanted within reason, didn't give much thought to what we carried on the plane, and off we went on our merry way.
Nowadays, the airlines charge for everything except maybe using the restroom - and rest assured - that day may come. Of all the ways the airlines nickel and dime us, nothing raises our dander like luggage fees. Fees for checked bags, fees for carry-on luggage, and fees for overweight bags have forced us to rethink how we travel and the way we pack.
It's bad enough that we need to carefully consider the weight and size of our bags when packing before we leave. Even more critical now is the fact that we need to consider the extra stuff we'll come home with. Let's face it, we all buy some memento or other of the places you visit, and bag limits will be tested when you realize you will need to find room in the limited space you have left in your luggage - if any. Shopaholics especially will need to figure out how to fit all those new trinkets and gifts for friends back home without breaking the bank or the rules. Here are a few ideas which I intend to implement at some time in the future in my own travels.
1) If your luggage is expandable, take advantage of the extra inches. Just remember, in it's new larger size, it may no longer fit into the overhead bin, or if it's to be checked, it may exceed the weight limit.
2) Ship the stuff home. Some merchants will ship your purchases. Another option - though not as practical for just a day in port - is to find the nearest Post Office and ship it all home in a flat-rate box. Sure, shipping sounds pricey, but so are excess baggage fees at the airport.
3) Your third, and probably cheapest option, is to pack a foldable compact bag in your suitcase, such as a lightweight duffel or zippered tote bag. If the size and amount of your souvenirs are more than your luggage can handle, pack up the spare and check it at the airport. Although you may end up paying a checked-bag fee for an extra piece of luggage, this might be a more economical way to cart your souvenirs home than paying for international shipping, which is not cheap. Wrap some bubble wrap around any breakable items. If you didn't think ahead and pack bubble wrap, t-shirts or towels will do (but please don't steal the hotel's or cruise ship's towels). Depending on the size of the newly added piece, and any other hand luggage you may have, it may be possible to carry it aboard the plane.
Lastly, one final option is to not check any luggage at all. Instead, ship the bags directly to or from your destination. Federal Express and UPS, for example, both offer boxes and bags for holding luggage. Pack it up, the courier will pick it up and ship it directly to your hotel where it will await your arrival. My boss, in fact, recently did this to ship his black-tie formal wear for a wedding he was attending, and it all worked out just fine - and was super convenient!
For more tips on packing light and lightening your load, check out the article: Lighten Your Luggage and Avoid Baggage Fees