The Scoop On Baggage Allowances

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How to pack a suitcase properly



Okay, let’s face it, now that you’ve booked your trip down south, all you can think about is emerging from the plane and feeling the warm sun on your cheeks. No one wants to worry about carting luggage to the airport, getting it checked in, and then having to wait for the conveyor belt to spit out your precious goods (hopefully) undamaged.


Packing for your tropical vacation isn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be that hard either. You’ve thought of all the possible activities you could be engaging in on your holiday and have consistently repeated the scout motto, “always be prepared,” in your head. Now that you are lugging this massive suitcase from your place into the car, you are having second thoughts. Did I take too much? Did I forget to take the essentials? What if we go diving? Will the airline charge me for bringing along my golf clubs? What about my guitar? Maybe I should have packed a third bikini…


To manage your expectations on the baggage allowance conundrum, we’ve compiled this handy list:


  • Max weight: Most charter airlines allot their passengers one free luggage weighing a maximum of 20 kg (roughly 44 lbs.). That’s about two bikinis, a couple of pairs of pants, summery shirts, flip-flops and your hair straightener, which means you may need to leave your rider boots behind

  • Carry-on weight: Pack your carry-on with your allowance of up to 5 kg (about 11 lbs.) in mind

  • Carry-on size: Your carry-on luggage should not exceed a maximum size of 23 cm x 40 cm x 51 cm (9 in x 16 in x 20 in) – since carry-ons are like people, and they come in different shapes and sizes, it’s safest to ask the luggage salesperson what fits standards, or just pull out your measuring tape

  • And then some: Luckily, in addition to carry-ons, you can bring along a smaller item, like a purse, laptop bag or stuffed toy, if need be

  • Be prepared: If you are going to take a chance and add an extra 5 kg (11 lbs.) to your carry-on, hoping the check-in desk reps won’t notice, then “always be prepared” to be asked to add your excess items to your checked baggage, which will be counted towards your 20 kg checked baggage allowance – yikes!

  • Sporting equipment: If you are training for the Masters, an avid deep-sea diver or a daring cyclist, or if you`re a flamenco musician preparing to serenade your lover with an acoustic guitar, all sporting equipment and musical instruments must follow the same weight restrictions as any other piece of luggage, but may incur extra costs. And don’t bother wedging a tank top or a pair of espadrilles into your trombone case, because you will be promptly asked to remove it at check-in

  • In the hold: If you are serious about travelling with sporting equipment or musical instruments, these items will be placed in the hold of the plane and must be packed properly to avoid a hurricane of golf balls occurring during your flight

  • Boogie woogie: Kite boards and boogie boards are merely smaller-sized surf boards, and  therefore, are subject to the same baggage fee of $100 each

  • Valuables: Pack your valuables (like jewelry, money and Starbucks card),electronics (your smartphone, tablet and camera), medication (with prescription information) and important documentation (passports, e-documents, and People magazine) in your carry-on

  • Mark your territory: Just like you did in elementary school, label everything you own with your name, and make sure to add valid contact information from your destination (hotel phone number, email address etc.)

  • The rule: When it comes to liquids, airlines continue to follow the 100 ml rule, unless you are bringing infant formula, in which case, the suggestion is to bring along the container of formula powder to be prepared on board

  • Handle with care: If your whole family is crafty enough to fit into one single suitcase, it still needs to follow the 20 kg regulation – just like with love handles, weight is not transferrable to others

  • Creature comforts: If you know that you just won’t be able to rest easy on your beach vacation without the comfort of your own bunny slippers, micro-fiber body pillow, or the entire Blu-Ray collection of Harry Potter movies, there is hope for you yet when you pay for an upgrade

  • Over and out: Any bag that exceeds the 20 kg free baggage allowance will be charged extra fees to the tune of $20 per kg each way – in other words, if the bag is 5 kg over the limit, you’ll be paying an additional $100 on the way down and $100 on the way back (as long as your bags weigh the same going both ways)

  • In excess: If you are feeling claustrophobic from all these restrictions, you can purchase a maximum of 100 kg in excess baggage in advance, however, each bag cannot weigh more than 32 kg each

  • Little ones: Parents can breathe a sigh of relief when travelling with infants under two years, since they get a special allowance for one item such as a baby seat, stroller or playpen

  • Tiny tots: Kids over two are considered all-grown-up and therefore, get their own baggage allowance of up to 20 kg (44 lbs.). If two-year-old Tommy wants you to bring along his car seat, stroller or playpen, however, then prepare to pay out the excess baggage fees for the second baby item

  • Internationally yours: Whether you are flying to Paris or Punta Cana, weight and height restrictions remain the same for domestic and international flights

  • Spot stays: You’re going to need to leave your furry friends and scaly reptiles at home, since there is no place, or proper storage, for these creatures on the plane

  • Safe not sorry: If you know that you could not replace the items that you will be carrying in your checked luggage, it’s better to be safe than sorry by purchasing baggage insurance

  • Hold on: We’ve all been there, you are watching the baggage conveyor belt spin round and round with no sign of your hot pink suitcase. After you panic for a couple of minutes, immediately contact the airline to report your delayed bag, and hold tight in your comfy clothes for a bit longer until your wares get delivered to your hotel

  • Size does matter: If your luggage is larger than 158 cm (62 in), you’re looking at what airlines like to call, “oversized baggage,” in which case, this piece may be rejected at check-in and you’ll need to research a cargo company that will transport it to your destination on your behalf

  • Hot stuff: You might be baffled by the fact that your suitcase weighs more coming back from a tropical destination then it did on your way there. This is not an illusion, but probably a result of your shopping spree, or, if you abstained from shopaholic temptations, perhaps humidity at your tropical destination has settled into your clothing, causing it to weigh slightly more on your return


  • Here comes the bride: While preparing for your destination wedding, you may be slightly nervous about how you are going to transport your wedding dress. Since you aren’t going to buy a whole seat for this new love-of-your-life, when you book in advance the dress (which can weigh up to 5 kg) will be carefully placed in the overhead compartment, on top of all other luggage. If you know that your beautiful gown, which sports 453 Swarovski crystals, 506 pearls and a km-long train is going to exceed the 5-kg allowance, or likely not fit in the overhead compartment, perhaps opting for a more beach-friendly dress would be your best bet

In the end, whether you bring along five bikinis or one, or if you choose to surf, cycle and scuba dive, packing will always be one of the fun (and many times, frustrating) realities of travelling. So, do your best to stay calm and fly on!