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Published August 14, 2010, 12:00 AM

Stores sell accessories to lighten travelers’ loads

With nearly all airlines charging for checked bags, more people are opting to travel with carry-on luggage only. And sometimes, traveling lighter is a matter of traveling smarter.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

With nearly all airlines charging for checked bags, more people are opting to travel with carry-on luggage only.

And sometimes, traveling lighter is a matter of traveling smarter. Businesses, big and small, are catching on.

Travel accessories are strong sellers year-round, said Dale Weiler, owner of the Fargo store Maps, Travel and More.

“Everybody is trying to minimize what they’re taking and reduce costs,” Weiler said.

Maps, Travel and More, located in the Times Square East Plaza at 4950 13th Ave. S., offers a variety of accessories, from quick-drying underwear to hand-held luggage scales. All are intended to help people travel lighter.

The business also carries maps, topography maps, flags, globes and language books.

Patty Auka, a travel agent at Travel Leaders Travel Travel in Fargo, is also a Maps, Travel and More customer.

When airlines started charging checked-bag fees a couple of years ago, Auka started traveling with carry-on luggage.

She said inflatable pillows are a nice option because a lot of airlines don’t give out pillows anymore. She also likes the compression bags, which remove air when rolled to fit more clothes in the same space, and handheld baggage scales to make sure luggage does not exceed allowable weight limits.

“You want to try to stay within that weight limit because if not, that is a killer,” Auka said.

She has also taken travel laundry soap to hand-wash clothes while on vacation.

“It doesn’t get it perfectly, but it’s enough to freshen up so you can wear it again,” Auka said.

Along those lines, quick-drying underwear sold at Maps, Travel and More can be washed in the sink and will dry in a couple of hours, Weiler said.

The store also carries travel bottles designed to be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration.

Weiler plans to get an airline seat mock up with an overhead bin in the store so travelers can make sure their bags will fit and test out accessories, like the neck pillows.

Big-box retailers also are offering consumers more products to help lighten their traveling load, though some items are available online only.

Walmart offers several personal care kits prepackaged with travel-sized toiletries.

Target offers products like disposable slippers for going through airport security, Tide travel sink packs to hand wash clothes, and travel-size bottles that meet airline security guidelines.

In carry-on baggage, the TSA allows 3-ounce or smaller containers of liquid, gels and aerosols placed in a 1-quart clear, plastic, zip-top bag. One plastic bag is allowed per passenger.

Travel skills speaker and writer Doug Dyment of San Francisco started OneBag.com in 1996.

The website offers methods Dyment has tested for “going pretty much anywhere for an indefinite length of time with no more than a single carry-on-sized bag.”

His tips include suggestions for using a packing list, what to pack, the right kind of luggage and how to pack clothing to maximize space and avoid wrinkles.

Dyment noticed a huge upswing in site visitors when airlines first started charging for checked bags, he said. His site averages 3,500 visitors

a day.

All of the airlines that fly out of Hector International Airport in Fargo charge checked-bag fees.

Allegiant Airlines charges $15 to $35 for the first and second checked bags. American Airlines and United Airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second. Delta Airlines charges $23 to $25 for the first checked bag and $32 to $35 for the second.

Fees are charged each way of a flight. Higher fees apply for additional checked bags and overweight and oversized bags.

Most airlines allow one free carry-on bag and one free personal item, like a purse or computer case. Some, however, are also charging for carry-on bags now.

Some travelers are opting to mail clothes and other items to their destination or going to their destination with carry-on luggage and checking a bag on the flight home, Auka said.

Many airlines waive checked-bag fees for travelers who have the airline’s credit card or for travelers of a certain status – like frequent flyers, Auka said.

“There are options out there, but you have to look at each airline because each one is different,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526