It’s no secret that traveling on a budget is difficult, but it’s doable with an ample amount of patience and creativity. Norwegian Airlines is one of the cheapest airlines to take to/from LAX and Europe. With round trip rates as low as half the price of competitors, it makes international travel much more accessible. Unfortunately, they charge a bit more than traditional airlines for baggage, this is where you can quickly spend much more than anticipated if you aren’t careful.
As you can see above, anything over 20kg (44lbs) is charged $15 per each kilo for each leg of the flight. That means if you have even a single layover, you’re going to be charged $30 for every extra kilo. Not all airlines allow the average 50lbs, make sure to read the fine print before traveling.
When I arrived to the Salzburg airport at 7am for the first leg of my international flight home, I was not prepared for the hell of a morning I was about to have. Initially, I overpacked when I left for Europe in September, but then I traveled for 94 days collecting souvenirs, gifts, and what-have-you along the way. So I was carrying a lot of stuff. I had my small personal item i.e. my purse, a carry-on bag, and a large bag to check in. I assumed my large bag was around 23kgs (50lbs), my carry-on bag was probably 8kgs (17.5lbs), and nobody needed to know my purse weighed around 4.5kgs (10lbs). I figured I might have to smooth talk my way into a few extra pounds here and there, but never in a million years would I have imagined that I was carrying well over 110lbs.
My 33kgs (73lbs) of checked luggage was not only well over the allowed 20kgs to check in, but it was also over the maximum luggage weight of 32kgs. In addition, I had 11kgs (24lbs) in my carry-on, which is limited to 10kgs. The employee checking me in overlooked the extra kilo in my carry-on bag, but she quickly informed me that I was going to be charged for the extra weight in my checked bag, plus I needed to remove some items for she couldn’t even check a bag heavier than 32kgs. Fair enough. I figured I could easily remove a kilo from my bag, but the fee was a much bigger problem. I attempted to talk my way out of the extra charge, until I was quickly informed that extra charge would be nearly $400 (13kgs at $15 per kilo x 2 for each leg of my flight). Fuck. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. Fuck.
I told her I couldn’t afford that, so she told me she couldn’t check me in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We clearly had a problem and I really had only one option if I wanted to keep my belongings. I removed myself from the line and quickly began to panic. I opened my luggage in the middle of the airport and proceeded to put on every single article of clothing I could physically put on. I made a damn scene. I layered all of the jewelry I had (sorry security personnel), I put three beanies on my head with a huge floppy hat on top, I wore three shirts, two sweaters, a fur vest, a leather jacket, and a wool peacoat. I wore leggings under my skinny jeans under my pajama pants under my ski pants. I had tall leather boots on and couldn’t close my arms because of the amount of material I had on my body. I looked like a sweaty scarecrow that was compensating for a lack of life with twenty-five pounds of clothing. I was stuffing small items in my pockets and trying to squeeze every permissible object on my person. Technically there are strict luggage rules, but there are no human weight limits. I was horrifically uncomfortable, completely embarrassed, and now risking missing my nonrefundable flight because of the amount of time wasted. After watching my impromptu fashion show I displayed in front of hundreds of holiday travelers the employee quickly grabbed my luggage and told me to go straight to security. Ohh, and I forgot to mention that I was carrying my laptop in my pants like a kangaroo carries it’s young joey. Travelers just starred at me trying to decipher if my outfit was intentional and even security broke out into a roar of laughter when they saw me… but when I pulled my laptop out of my pants, security began crying from laughter. I wobbled onto the plane with my head down and sat in my seat completely still for two hours until I arrived in Denmark.
I made my way through security in Denmark, once again reliving the embarrassing laughter and awkward glances until I discovered the greatest loop-hole in existence. Similar to how there’s no weight limit for passengers, there’s also no weight limit for items purchased in the airport. I went into the first store I could, asked for the largest shopping bag they made, and ran straight for the restroom. I removed everything from my body and stood naked in the stall until I could breathe properly again. I pieced together a new outfit from the ample amount of options available and strategically stuffed everything else into the shopping bag to appear like I just bought it. I strolled back to the store and loaded up on perfume samples and whatever else I could to not look like I just went to hell and back.
Many asked, “Was all of this worth it? All of that discomfort to save $400.”
Um, yes, definitely…
But, “Was it worth bringing all of that shit in the first place?”
Moral of the story is, you really don’t need as much stuff as you may think you do. You can either travel on a budget or carry five pairs of shoes, there will be a rude awakening if you think you can do both (unless you want to repeat my nightmare). You don’t need excessive options, do laundry a little more often than normal, and you’ll be much better off. In the Winter, when you’re layering three shirts under your parka, nobody will know if it’s the same shirt you wore in another country four days prior. In the Summer, you’ll always opt for the lightest and easiest material to throw on because you’ll sweat through anything else anyway. Even if you feel like you aren’t packing enough, pack less. You can always buy anything you may need as you travel, but wouldn’t you rather spend your money on a bottle of wine in Italy than paying to carry your own clothing? Finally, you’ll most likely come back with more than you left with and if not, you’ll definitely appreciate the spare room anyway.