It's no secret that airlines tack on fees for carry-on bags that go over the weight limit. You can alleviate some of the fees if you're a member of your favorite airline's loyalty club (something we recommend anyway, even for your once-a-year flight). But that won't save you from overweight bag fees. In those cases, you need a lighter, well, case.
There are a few remedies for making sure you have a lighter suitcase, and we've heard most of them. Whether you're checking a large suitcase or rolling on your rollaboard, we can show you how to take a lighter suitcase along on your next trip.
One thing we checked while researching this article is the Malicious Compliance subreddit. If you find the right stories, you can see stories of passengers who are just a few grams or ounces over the weight of their checked bag, and so they'll put on the extra shirt or jacket, or they'll put an item into their pocket, so it's not in the bag anymore.
We don't necessarily advise that as a remedy against heavy luggage, and instead recommend that you pack a lighter suitcase to begin with.
Use the right suitcase
One of the first secrets to a lighter suitcase is not what you pack, but the suitcase itself. Some carry-on suitcases can weigh up to 10 pounds, while others weigh half as much and still carry the same amount of stuff. Heavier doesn't necessarily mean sturdier, it just means heavier.
You can save some weight just by choosing a light suitcase. The lightest ones use aluminum for the frame and a lightweight fabric or plastic shell.The Max Lite 5 21" Spinner is the perfect carry-on that is available in both hardside and softside and has plenty of color options.
Pack lighter with travel essentials
It can be easy to overlook the weight of some of our travel items. For example, we tend to ignore our toiletries, because they're often light on their own. (That's one of the benefits of only being allowed to take a 3.4 ounce bottle of shampoo or mouthwash.)
But if you're trying to travel lighter, our toiletry items are something to consider. Instead of automatically taking everything you have at home, consider whether you need to take each item with you. For example, you don't need soap or shampoo if you're staying at a hotel. Or if you're staying at an Airbnb or a friend's house, you can always get those items at your destination.
And swap out your electric toothbrush that weighs almost a pound for the manual one that's nearly weightless. Get a travel hair dryer that's much smaller and lighter than your home hair dryer. In fact, if you need hair care equipment at home, there are often travel-sized versions available.
Pack for your itinerary
Some travelers pack clothes based on how they feel about the trip while others just throw in clothes that are clean and look good on them. While your trip should have room for you to be you, packing for your itinerary and destination will help you avoid packing in excess.
Take some time to go through your itinerary and pack for the activities you have planned. Don't take things "just in case" you might need them. That is, don't pack a suit or a dress because you "might" go to a nice dinner. Either plan the nice dinner and be sure, or don't plan it and don't pack the clothes you'll only wear for a few hours.
Wear your heavier clothes onto the plane
Being comfortable on the plane ride is often a top priority for many travelers, but wearing light clothes may not be the best option. For one thing, planes tend to be a little colder, and it helps if you're wearing something to fight the chill.
You may want to pack your boots and coats in your bag, but consider wearing them on the plane instead. That way, they're not taking up space in your suitcase and weighing it down. You're going to be wearing them at your destination anyway, so why not avoid the overweight fees and carry them?
Divide weight between the bag and personal item
These days, most airlines don't consider your personal bag — your backpack, briefcase, or purse — as part of your luggage. You can just bring it with you onto the plane. And rollaboard bags typically aren't weighed in the first place.
But if you do have a checked bag, you can split your weight between your checked bag and your personal item. You can (and probably should) put your toiletries, tablet, and maybe a couple shirts and changes of underwear in your personal bag.
Take a laundry kit
Sure, a laundry kit may add a bit of weight to your luggage, but it will improve your trip all around if you have it. The benefit of doing laundry on your trip is it means you can literally take half as much as you thought you would need.
If you're traveling for two weeks, you can take one week's worth of clothes and wash them at the halfway mark. Or you can save the space and have your hotel or a laundry service clean everything for you. Or you could stay in an Airbnb or VRBO with a washing machine and just pick up a small amount of your favorite detergent and fabric softener while you're there.
Pack multi-purpose items
Bringing multi-purpose items can save you a lot of extra weight. Bring a reversible dress, a scarf that doubles as a blanket, or even a shirt that turns into a bag.
Bringing multi-purpose items can save you so much weight. You can bring a reversible dress, a shawl/blanket, or a tablet that doubles as your book, TV, and radio. Using multi-purpose items instead of a single use item, whenever possible, not only saves you a lot of weight, but it cuts down on the number of items you have to keep track of.