Packing smart can save money when traveling

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If you're going out of town for Thanksgiving, using smart packing techniques can help you save money, especially if you're flying.

Many airlines are charging a fee for your checked luggage on flights, but you can also be billed more if your bag is too heavy.

Follow these tips from Mori Luggage & Gifts to prevent overweight fees at the airport, spokeswoman Jayme Schwartz said.

10 Tips for Packing Smart and Light:

1. Wear items that can be worn more than once and wear your heaviest/bulkiest shoes instead of packing them.

2. Try to take only one or two pairs of shoes.

3. Transfer beauty products and toiletries from glass or heavy containers to smaller plastic ones.

4. Make a list of everything you think you will need, lay the items in front of you, then force yourself to take at least one-third fewer than what you've laid out.

5. Take clothes in basic, versatile colors (black, navy, etc.) that coordinate well into several outfits.

6. Use packing folders and cubes to maximize space and keep your suitcase organized. The organizers have see-through mesh covers so that if your bag needs to be searched by security, they don't necessarily have to rifle through your clothes.

7. Space Saver compression bags are another great packing tool. These bags squeeze the air out of clothing, which is especially good for bulky items such as sweaters and jackets. They are also great for packing dirty clothes.

8. Remember the 3-1-1 rule about liquids in carry-on bags: 3 ounce bottle or less ; 1 quart-size, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin.

9. Squeeze the extra air out of bottles to prevent them from exploding from the air pressure.

10. Pack a travel luggage scale if you're worried about increased weight on your return flight. They are compact and range in price from $9.95 to $29.95.

More ways to save: If you have a tight travel budget, you can fund your trip with hotel rewards points.

Hotel rewards programs are becoming increasingly popular and flexible. However, it's important to check the details.

According to The Associated Press, customers are redeeming their Hilton HHonors points at an all-time high since Hilton Hotels Corp. announced in January that it would eliminate blackout dates.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced in September that its members could choose rewards from a dozen different options through the end of the year. These options include free nights, bonus points and gift cards.

Marriott International Inc. will eliminate blackout dates under its Marriott Rewards program Jan. 15. Under Marriott's new system, members will be able to redeem points for free nights at 2,900 hotels every day of the year. For every four-night stay redeemed, members can extend that stay by one day free.

RECAP

If you missed The Pinch last week, here are some highlights:

PACK YOUR OWN LUNCH: If you eat out for lunch every day, you're spending a lot of extra money on food. At most fast-food restaurants, value meals are priced, on average, about $5. That's $25 each week if you eat out for five days, and for an entire month, it totals $100.

If you eat at dine-in restaurants, you can easily spend much more. What's the remedy? Take your own lunch.

Before you sigh wearily, consider your options. There are plenty of tasty, low-cost meal choices for lunchtime. You can take leftovers from dinner, a sandwich or one of many frozen entrÃe options.

Packing your lunch might also help you to eat more healthfully. In many instances, the foods that we enjoy the most might not be the best choices for our bodies.

ASK FOR A RAIN CHECK: If a store is a having a great sale and runs out of merchandise, you can ask for a rain check to still take advantage of the savings.

Many grocery stores will offer rain checks if they run out of sale items. Simply go to the customer service desk to request the rain check, which is a small slip of paper that includes the name of the item, sale price and date of receipt.

At Kroger, for instance, the rain check must be redeemed within 30 days of the date listed.

WIN FREE PARTY SPACE: Do you want to hold a party but your funds are low? Casa Blanca, a new coffee cafà in the White's Building in downtown Augusta, is holding a drawing for free space for a group party or special event.

The winner will be selected Sunday, Nov. 30, at Casa Blanca, 936 Broad St. Entry forms must be received at the cafe by Saturday.

For entry forms, go online to casablancatime.com or stop by Casa Blanca. There is a $20 entry fee for the drawing, and participants must be 18 or older. For more information, call (706) 495-4356.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.

READ LATINA EMERSON'S blog on saving money and shopping smarter in Augusta at blogs.augusta.com.

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