naIt's getting tough out there to be a major airline. Fuel is expensive and it's hard for those fliers to make any money. As expected, the airlines are employing a time tested strategy for raising revenues, it's called, "take those customers for all they're worth."

However, there's an interesting little strategy that you can use to beat the airlines at their new "fee for everything" mode of operations. It takes a little effort on your part, but in the long run it might be worth it. At the very least, you'll be able to take things on your cross-continental trip which might otherwise be unacceptable. Here's how it works:

As you are planning your trip and getting things ready to go, make arrangements at your destination to have a FedEx package picked up. Then, when your luggage is all packed, have your suitcases boxed up and ship them by FedEx ground.

I did the following calculation using the official FedEx rate and transit time utility. I specified that I wanted to ship a 100lb box, measuring 24-inches cubed and valued at $400. I indicated that I wanted to ship that box from the AOL Corporate offices on Broadway in New York to the eBay headquarters in San Jose, California by standard FedEx ground services. The FedEx calculator told me that it will cost me just $70 to get that package moved across the country in five days. That also includes insurance on my package.

So, imagine this; For just $70 you can ship 100lbs of luggage across the country ahead of you. In that package you can include your pocket knife, your box cutter, a pointy nail file, your nose hair trimmer, a pruning shears, a five gallon bucket full of your favorite toiletries and a couple quarts of vodka to boot.

You'll get a hands free journey through the airport. You 'll have no luggage to be poked, prodded or scanned. You'll pay no luggage fees and you'll pay no tips to people who do luggage handling.

It sounds like the beginning of a great trip to me!

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