You may have packed lightly and organized on the way to your destination, but it never fails: excess baggage follows you home from vacation like a lost puppy. You invested time in finding all those sand dollars, and there was this perfect little gift in the window of the most adorable shop ever, begging to be taken home to Mom. Now, these perfect little gifts laugh mischievously as you stare at your suitcase in dismay.
But that's not the only problem. Your bags are overweight.
How do you lighten the load? You need to decide what to ditch and quick, but the process isn't as painful as you think. Toss these items without feeling a major loss:
Ditch Half-Empty Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles
You never use as much shampoo and conditioner as you think you will. Lose the excess. It takes up more room than you'd imagine. If the waste bothers you, leave the items in a common area where a person with waist-length hair may thank you for saving them money.
Lose Flip Flops and Items You Only Brought for the Beach
Sand will always find a way into your beach shorts or swimsuit, and is great at ruining shoes. That's why you've forever resolved to bring old clothes and flip flops to wear as you build your sand castles. You know you'll find sand in mysterious places in your house if you take these items home. You can save yourself the sandy trouble and ditch the ratty beach wear.
Keepsakes (and Heavy Items) Go In Your Carry-On
All the items you don't want to lose track of usually go in the carry-on. Chargers and vacation information have their own pocket, for example. However, your carry-on bag also is the perfect solution to store books and heavier souvenirs. If your carry-on and purse are already full, swap out some of the lighter items for those bringing up the weight in your suitcase.
Wear Your Heaviest Jacket or Pair of Shoes Home
Remember when Joey from "Friends" wore all of Chandler's clothes? It's not the most efficient re-packing strategy, but Joey was onto something. Some clothes are bulkier than we think. Keep the thin materials in your luggage, but wear your heaviest jacket and chunkiest pair of shoes home.
Recycle the Paper Weight
Paper weight can add up, and you don't need to keep every single postcard, pamphlet or business card. If your trip was part business, you can (and should) keep important paperwork in your carry-on. If your trip was about fun, choose just one paper item to keep as a souvenir, and take photos of what you want to follow up on later. Digital paper trails don't cost baggage fees.
Ship Luggage Home Before You Arrive
If you can't bear to leave the adorable souvenirs behind, and there's no room, ship luggage before you fly home, when appropriate. It sounds like backwards thinking, but the idea is beneficial in the right circumstances—it's possible to lighten your load and save money while you do it. Many empty suitcases weigh about 20 pounds, which is factored into shipping costs. The end result may cost you less than a checked overweight bag, whether you mail heavier shoes and books to yourself via the post office or use a luggage delivery company.