Pack Light and Avoid Baggage Fees

Ready to fly without paying extra baggage fees

When Paul had a business trip to Germany in 2017, I wanted to come along so we could spend a few days exploring Berlin. The cheapest fare I could find was on WOW, but that included only a 17x13x10-inch “personal item” that weighed 22 pounds or less. A carry-on bag would add $99.98 to the roundtrip price, and for a checked bag I would need to pay $139.98. That would add a lot to the cost of a four-day trip.

So I challenged myself to fit everything I needed into a backpack that met the size requirements. I’m pretty good at packing light, but I’m not about to spend my long weekend in Europe battling frizzy hair and dry skin, either.

Four days in Berlin: What I packed.

Here’s what I brought:

For (attempting to) sleep on the plane:

Inflatable fuzzy neck pillow

eye mask


Cosmetics, etc., packed in two quart-sized bags, one for liquids and one for everything else

Travel-sized face wash

Moisturizer and night cream (stored in a contact lens case)

Hair cream (in a 1.16 oz container)

Conditioner (in a 3 oz container)

Small eye drops

15 contact lenses (not skimping on these)

Saline nasal spray (I’m convinced this helps keep me from getting sick)




5 QTips


Toothpaste (travel size, free from my dentist)


Travel razor

Pill bottle with Advil, sleep aids and melatonin

Pepto Bismol

Travel pack of face wash towelettes

Travel-sized deodorant

Travel-sized tissues pack

The same stuff, now mostly crammed into Ziplok bags.

Clothes, packed in three gallon-sized bags, compressed to get the air out

4 shirts/tops

1 sweater that can layer over all of them

2 tanks that can layer under all of them

1 scarf, so it doesn’t look like I’m wearing the same thing all the time

4 pairs of socks/underwear/bras

1 pair of jeans

Workout clothes



Two pairs of socks

Running shoes. The workout clothes are all packed inside the running shoes, and the running shoes are also my backup shoes in case the ones I’m wearing get wet.


Laptop and charger


2 Euro power adapters

Cell phone charger


Taking a personal item means I can’t also take a purse, so I got this mini Chala crossbody purse that can fit inside the backpack and hold my:

Cell phone

Credit cards

Euros and dollars


Lip balm

 What I wore on the plane



Tank top

Black fleece jacket with pockets


Black booties

I did it! I could squish the bag into the size tester (barely!) and it only weighed 15.6 pounds.


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