10/04/2012 09:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Flying to College: How to Conquer Baggage Fees

As more and more students choose to head out of their home states to attend college, more and more parents worry about the consequences of such decision when it comes to packing. Ah, yes, the part where you're basically shipping your life in as little boxes as possible across either one or 50 states.

When it comes to orientation week (and any other in-between semester breaks), there are many, many advantages involved in flying. How's a comprehensive guide to do so.


Checked Bags

How many can you bring? It varies.

How much is it? It depends on the airline. Some offer the first bag free; others offer the first two bags free. A majority of airlines have fees that increase with the quantity of bags checked.

Regulations? Usually, bags have to weigh less than 50 pounds. Unless you want to be heavily fined.

  • Lay all large, flat items on the bottom of the bag. This can include any picture frames, books (although you should limit yourself to two to three), and those folders with "important documents," such as your health insurance, bank account information, etc. After all, you can't ask Mom where it is.
  • Roll your clothes into tight, small rolls that look like sushi (mmm, sushi). Set them aside.
  • Place your shoes around the edge of the bag.
  • Add your California Roll(ed) clothes on top of your bottom layer and next to the shoes. Start with your larger rolls (ie. jeans, collared shirts), then your smaller ones (shorts, tees).
  • Still have room? Add your underwear and socks on top. Don't forget to count how many of each you have -- don't want to get there and realize you have no underwear to wear while you're doing laundry on a Thursday morning before class (unless you're into that sort of thing).

TSA guidelines tip: put any large bottles or face washes into your checked bags, since you won't get too far past security with the tall bottle of Garnier Fructis poking out of your carry-on.

Personal Items

How many can you bring? One per person.
How much? Free! (take advantage)
Regulations? Has  to be equal to or less than the size of a regular purse, briefcase, or camera bag.

Tips: Your personal item can only be of the following: purse, laptop computer, briefcase.

Some Reading Material

You gotta keep yourself occupied during the flight!

All photographs belong to the author. For more information or tips, check out this instructional The New York Times article, which contributed a great deal to this article, on how to efficiently pack a bag.

To read the other tips, including on what is generally accepted for a carry-on, read the full article on the author's lifestyle blog, How To Use a Metrocard