One of my top travel tips is to pack as little as possible on your trips. Ideally, you should travel with carry-on bags only. Not only will you save money on checked baggage fees but most of all, it will save you time and aggravation. TIP: If you absolutely must check a bag, make sure you pop an Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag inside so you can always track it yourself. 

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For example, you won’t have to show up to the airport super early, you don’t have to worry about someone stealing items from your bag or the airline losing it or waiting around for what seems like an eternity for it to come out on the baggage carousel. RELATED: Stop Overpacking! 10 Things You Don’t Need to Pack

When you travel light it’s also much easier, quicker and cheaper to take public transportation. Just keep in mind that some low-fare carriers like Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit can charge up to $99 to use the overhead bin.

Unfortunately, not all travelers can travel with just carry-on bags. I became one of those travelers when my kids came along. Now, we travel with two rolling suitcases, two carry-on bags and we each have a backpack (we learned the hard way that you should always travel with a change of clothes in your carry-on when our toddler vomited all over my wife mid-flight … and I captured the insane photo).

Depending on the situation, like if the kids are sleeping or we have a bunch of presents we’re bringing to family members, it’s easier to grab a luggage cart. But can you believe some U.S. airports (ahem, SFO) are charging as much as $8 to use a luggage cart?

I find this appalling because it’s no way to welcome travelers, especially foreigners who are visiting for the first time.

What makes it even worse is that in most, if not all, countries that I’ve been to, luggage carts are free. Especially for international travelers.

If you’re traveling with a lot of luggage, you’ll find this tip helpful: Instead of shelling out up to $6-$8 for a cart, just go outside of arrivals near baggage claim. Unfortunately, international travelers who have to go through immigration in the U.S. will have to wait to clear customs to try this tip.

But for those who are on domestic flights or are coming from countries with USA pre-clearance like Canada, Ireland, Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda and United Arab Emirates (only Abu Dhabi airport), I can almost guarantee you there will be unlocked carts that have not been returned near the taxi stand and pick-up areas.

If you still can’t find one, then walk to the parking lot and you will definitely find a cart there. There are usually plenty of them. This is what every limousine driver does as well.

Besides, hunting for a luggage cart gives you something to do while waiting for your bags to come out, which always seems like an eternity.

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

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16 Comments On "Some US Airports Are Now Charging $8 for Luggage Carts - Here’s How to Get Them For Free"
  1. Johnny|

    Make sure, you’re able to get back into the security area. It might be wiser to pay for the cart, what mostly is a deposit fee anyway. Especially if you’re in a hurry…

  2. Sandra Boring|

    Prefer not to comment

  3. Rene Lagler|

    If I remember correctly that everywhere in the World the carts are free, but I recall years ago at LAX International Terminal they installed the PAYcarts and I saw foreigners aghast at the idea of paying as some had not exchanged their currency. Welcome to America!

  4. Bryant Petitt|

    I have been doing this for years!

  5. Kathleen|

    Me, too. Been doing this for years! : D

  6. Dan Nainan|

    I’ve done this in the past, it’s great! But for over 10 years, I’ve never checked a bag, not once, so I don’t need a cart.

    I remember when I first saw the luggage carts in Europe, and couldn’t believe they were free…now I realize somebody must’ve seen those overseas and thought, hey, maybe I can start this in America and make some money.

    1. Johnny Jet|


  7. Anonymous|

    just get a free one and then resell it to someone for 3 dollars

  8. SharonG|

    Hasn’t worked at MCO for 3 of our past 4 flights! And $6 each is really highway robbery to use the carts for 10 or 15 minutes. Those cart corral-jockies are very quick to round them up there!

  9. Jerry Mandel|

    Outside is fine but how do you get back inside through security?

  10. Bryant P.|

    Johnny, why don’t you show this as a re-post?

    This has become very well known as a travel Hack! Why bother!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks for the reminder! I just added it to the bottom. I would do it at the top but that’s the first thing that will show up when I post it on social

  11. Gina Lane|

    I’m surprised. I never thought the carts were free. I usually fly out of LAX or BUR. For years, I’ve been going to the parking lot to get one before heading to the airport shuttle area.

  12. Tom Fabek|

    Not sure I read the entire article.

    At LAX, you go to the lower Arrivals area, grab a free cart. Then proceed to an elevator to take you to the departure ticket counters.
    Just a thought.

  13. Travelin Tina|

    why are some of the comments 10 – 12 years old?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      We update posts over the years. We usually state that it’s been updated at the bottom to show it. The price has gone from $4 to $8 in the last decade

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