How to Make Luggage Weigh Less

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Sturdy luggage is good, but heavy materials can add to the bag's weight.
Sturdy luggage is good, but heavy materials can add to the bag's weight. (Image: monticelllo/iStock/Getty Images)

The travel industry is famous for imposing surcharges, and airlines are no exception. It's becoming increasingly rare to be able to check even a suitcase or two without paying for the privilege. If your checked baggage exceeds the airline's weight limit -- usually 50 pounds -- expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $200 or more extra. To avoid a fee for checking a too-hefty bag, learn how to lighten your packed load. Also, aim for about 75 percent of the weight limit to allow room for souvenirs on the trip back.

Skip the toiletries and bathroom accessories when it's packing time. Your hotel should provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, a bathrobe and other items. Confirm ahead that it has hair dryers in the rooms. Purchase other items as needed from the hotel or a store at your location.

Do laundry at your destination so you can pack fewer clothes. Even if you can't wash full loads while away, clean individual items in the sink using travel-size detergent packets.

Take along versatile clothes that you can wear casually and for somewhat nicer occasions. Select items that easily mix and match to create more outfits with fewer pieces.

Pack lighter layers of clothing for warmth rather than bulky parkas and other heavy clothing. Several lightweight pieces often weigh less than a single heavy coat or sweater.

Root out excess before closing your bag. Follow the "less is more" principle by packing fewer items than you're naturally inclined to bring. Trying to cover every eventuality leads to overpacking. It's good to be prepared, but you likely can purchase any item you might need at your destination.

Wear heavier items while en route to your destination rather than putting them in your suitcase when feasible. For instance, if you're bringing several types of shoes, travel in your hiking boots and stick the flip-flops in your luggage. Wear a pair of jeans on the plane, and pack the shorts.

Take technology with you. A small, lightweight smartphone or tablet can replace books, guidebooks, foreign-language dictionaries, maps and a camera.

Tips & Warnings

  • Packing lighter not only saves you money, it spares you the hassle of navigating the airport and other unfamiliar terrain hitched to heavy pieces of luggage.

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