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Buy smart to beat airline baggage charges


Sue Hayward explains how to buy the contents of your holiday suitcase for less than it costs the airline to carry it.


Popping your suitcase in the hold can put a hole in your summer spending so why bother?

Many budget airlines charge anything between £18 to £80 to carry passenger luggage on a return flight – and more if you don’t book in advance.

But carrying hand luggage is still free, so being savvy when buying and packing for your travels can save you money. Here's how.

Travel light

If you’re off somewhere like Greece, Spain or Morocco you can get away with just a change of smalls, fresh T-shirt and tiny toiletries in your cabin bag as you’ll easily be able to pick up cheap and cheerful tops, sarongs, dresses and trousers in the markets once you arrive.

Beach reads

Stock up on paperbacks in the supermarket as they’ve often got deals to beat the airport price.

For example, Tesco has a two-for-£7 offer, or £3.86 each, compared with RRPs of up to £7.99.

Or borrow a book from your local library. Most have plastic jacket covers too, which are perfect for sandy beach reading.

But watch your weight as three paperbacks can weight over 1kg. That’s 10per cent of your cabin bag allowance with an airline such as Ryanair.

Streamline holiday magazines

Glossy magazines are great for pool-side reading but can weigh down luggage at around 500g for a typical edition.

Go for the smaller travel-size versions and rip out the glossy ads which can save you a vital 200g a time.

Sun cream

If you're taking cabin bags only, your best bet is to buy a bottle in the supermarket and decant enough for the first day into a flight friendly 100 ml travel sized bottle.

You can pay £8.49 for a set of four 100ml bottles in Boots but I always pick up a pack in Primark for just £1.

Alternatively, you can buy a couple of bottles of sun cream once you’re through security or at your destination airport.


Never fork out for those travel-size toiletries. They’re small and convenient but cost a fortune when you work out what you get compared with the full-size version.

A tiny travel-size tube of toothpaste (75ml) sells for 99p in Boots but on the next shelf along you can buy a 100ml version for just 6p more, which will still pass the cabin bag test.

And with some travel shower gels you get just 15per cent of the standard version but pay as much as half the price.

T-shirts & beachwear

If you prefer not to wait till you hit your holiday destination then go to supermarkets where vest tops and T-shirts sell for between £2 and £3 each.

You can buy flip flops for £2, a bikini for £4 and for men there are shorts for £5, vest tops for £4 and flip flops for £3.50.

So for around £20 you can get a holiday capsule wardrobe fit for the beach.

And although a trip to the local launderette while you’re away may not be fun, if paying £3 to wash through your clothes saves you forking out up to £80 so you can take a clean set for every day of the week in your suitcase it’s worth it.

Extra bits

Popping a pack of headache tablets in your bag can set you back £1.80 for brand names such as Nurofen but a pack of Boots' own-brand ibuprofen costs 40p.

Both packs have 16 tablets so that’s a saving of £1.40.

Finally, don't forget to shop around for cheap travel insurance and you're good to go. Happy holidays!


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