For travelers watching their wallets, it's important to stick to a budget, find money-saving travel deals and get the best possible exchange rate.
Additionally, those looking to save cash would do well to pack strategically. The right travel gear can help you keep costs down while seeing the world.
Pack the following 10 items to save money on airline bag fees, laundry-service charges and other expenses.
-- Caroline Costello
Travel-size products are, to put it bluntly, a rip-off. For example, a travel-size bottle of Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion costs $13 for 1.7 ounces on <a href="http://www.sephora.com/dramatically-different-moisturizing-lotion-P122886?skuId=699405" target="_hplink">Sephora</a>. The full-size version costs $24.50 for 4.2 ounces. That's a price increase of about 30 percent. Instead of getting gouged, pack your own carry-on travel bottles filled with your favorite products. We like <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/photo-galleries/editorial/smartertravel-holiday-gift-guide-2011.html?id=106&photo=22526" target="_hplink">GoToob containers</a>.
If you're traveling to a place where sunscreen is compulsory, like a beach resort in the Caribbean, any sunblock for sale in local shops will probably be really expensive. And 3.4 ounces (the maximum bottle size the TSA permits in carry-on luggage) of Coppertone won't likely be enough for a good week of heavy-duty equatorial sun rays. The wallet-friendly solution is to buy solid sunscreen at a local drugstore (or order it online) before your trip.
Overweight-luggage fees are usually as hefty the bags that incur them. Some airlines <a href="http://i.slimg.com/sc/sl/graphic/u/ul/ultimate-guide-to-airline-fees.pdf" target="_hplink">charge up to $200</a> for too-heavy suitcases. But those charges are easily avoided if you pack a luggage scale and weigh your bag before arriving at the airport. <a href="http://www.magellans.com/store/Gifts___Gifts_under__25KT689" target="_hplink">This one</a> from Magellan's costs $12.50.
Once upon a time, airlines were as liberal with edible treats as your grandma. Now, many airlines sell marked-up bagged snacks that you could buy in the store for a lot less. On some flights, American Airlines charges $5.29 for a bag of spiced nuts. And a bag of M&M's will run you $3 on US Airways. You get the idea. So bring your own bagged candy, crackers and nuts and save a few bucks.
Like a Swiss Army knife, duct tape has myriad practical uses. But unlike a Swiss Army knife, you can take it on a plane. Use the tape to put things back together if your suitcase gets ripped by rough-and-tumble baggage handlers, thus saving you from having to spend money on a new bag during your trip. If you're heading to a place with an unfavorable exchange rate, purchasing a big-ticket item like a new suitcase could really eat up your budget.
As long as you stay within airlines' bag-weight limits, you can stuff as much as physically possible into your suitcase. As well you should, since every U.S. legacy carrier charges for checked bags on domestic flights -- and the more bags you check, the higher those fees climb. One simple way to maximize suitcase space is to use a travel compression sack designed to save space by eliminating air surrounding the contents of the bag.
I'm a book devotee. I prefer paper over screens, ink over interface. But I'll admit that the e-reader beats books to a pulp when it comes to travel. How else could one cart a virtual library of reading material in luggage without sustaining overweight-bag charges? Even a single large hardback book is enough to seize some serious suitcase space. So it's no surprise the e-reader made our list of "<a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/five-things-you-should-never-fly-without.html?id=10473932" target="_hplink">Five Things You Should Never Fly Without</a>."
Most travelers know this trick, as is evidenced by the lines that sometimes form at water fountains near boarding areas. Avoid the overpriced newsstand bottled water by packing an empty bottle in your suitcase and filling it up after you've gone through security. To save space, opt for a squishy, foldable flask like the <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/product-review-vapur-anti-bottle.html?id=9837210" target="_hplink">Vapur Anti-Bottle</a>.
Pack travel laundry detergent and stain remover to use in case of a spill emergency. We like the <a href="http://www.tide.com/en-US/product/tide-to-go.jspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=tide stain stick&utm_campaign=Tide_Search_Desktop_Brand+Awareness.Antares&utm_content=s7YtXuimN_10312770076_e_tide stain stick" target="_hplink">Tide Stain Stick</a>, which fits in a pocket or purse and, at less than 3.4 ounces, is carry-on compliant. We also recommend <a href="http://www.magellans.com/store/Clothing___Clothing_CareTL787" target="_hplink">Magellan's Laundry Soap Sheets</a>; they're not a liquid, so they're OK to bring on the plane.
If your passport or wallet is stolen while you're overseas, it'll set your budget back, to say the least. You are your first defense against theft. Pay attention and always be aware of your surroundings. If you'd like some back-up protection, though, opt for a security bag like the <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/product-review-vaultpro-convertible-backpack.html?id=10601080" target="_hplink">VaultPro Convertible Backpack</a> or security clothing like <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/product-review-clever-travel-companion-underwear-and-tank-top.html?id=10672900" target="_hplink">Clever Travel Companion</a> undergarments. Security wallets and money belts are also a safe bet; find a whole line of them at <a href="http://www.magellans.com/store/Small_Bags___Wallets___Wallets___Money_Belts" target="_hplink">Magellan's</a>.
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