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Saving by shipping your luggage

This summer has been tough on travelers -- $4-plus for a gallon of gas, airlines charging luggage fees and the economy in the dumps. But there is one way to ease the strain on your summer travel and save on luggage fees if you plan ahead. June's Frugal $ense winner, Lynn Bulmahn, of Waco, Texas, suggests that you ship your luggage to your destination ahead of time. You'll avoid the up to $25-per-bag luggage fee and save on hassles at the airport.

Bankrate: How did you come up with this idea?

Lynn Bulmahn: It was several years ago, and I was going to go on a fall vacation in Upstate New York ... Well to get from here to there I was going to have to change planes 80 zillion times and you need things like hiking shoes, athletic shoes and all kinds of stuff, and it wasn't necessarily new, fancy stuff because you were going to be working out. I thought, "Airlines are going to be losing that luggage. I can take a carry-on, but all this stuff is going to have to be in a big suitcase, and I'm going to have to change airlines, change airplanes," and I thought, "This is ridiculous."

Bankrate: What kind of preparations did you have to make?

Lynn Bulmahn: I called the lady at the spa and said, "I was wondering, can I ship this to you?" So I put it in this big box ... I sealed it real good and sent it off. The spa called and said, "We have your stuff and it will be in your room when you check in." ... That was the neatest thing in the world. So I just took my carry-on ...

June's Frugal $ense winner: Lynn Bulmahn
Save on airline luggage fees
"Instead of paying the airline $15 or more to check a suitcase when you're going to visit friends or relatives, box up your clothes and either mail them or send them by a parcel company. Make sure you use a sturdy carton, and insure your belongings. I've even done this when I was going to a spa resort; I just sent them to myself in care of the manager. (Of course I made arrangements with her to do this beforehand). I carried my toiletries and one change of clothes in a carry-on, but the rest of my wardrobe was mailed. If you're going on a business trip, perhaps someone in your firm's destination office could receive your items and bring them to you when you arrive. Just ship your clothes several days before you leave home; then, stop off at the post office or package delivery place prior to going to the airport when your trip ends. Not only is it cheaper, but much easier: You don't have to lug your heavy luggage through the airport!" -- Lynn Bulmahn, of Waco, Texas

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Bankrate: Do you think it was a money saver or was it more for convenience?

Lynn Bulmahn: It was matter of I don't want my luggage to get lost. I went from Waco to Houston and changed plans. And anyway I was changing plans two to three times, and I thought no way, my bags will catch up to me a week later, and I won't have anything to go swimming in or hiking in or all these neat things in. Anyway, it worked out real well.

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Bankrate: Have you used this idea for other trips?

Lynn Bulmahn: When I was living in Florida and went to visit my cousin, I shipped it there for my two-week visit. And that worked out pretty good. But you have to plan it in advance; you just can't do it at the last minute.

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