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7 Tips for Making Your Suitcase Lighter

If you’ve ever stood at the check-in counter and watched the luggage scale tick up past the weight limit, you know just how important every ounce is when it comes to packing your suitcase. Don’t worry, over-packers—we’ve got you covered. Bring everything you need and still stay under your baggage allowance with these helpful tips that will make your suitcase lighter. 

Start With The Right Suitcase

Hands buckling a compression strap inside a suitcase | Adobe Stock

Some carry-on suitcases weigh more than 10 lbs., which already puts you at a weight disadvantage. Making your bag as light as possible starts with the basics—the suitcase itself. Going light doesn’t have to mean struggling to cart your stuff around in a foldable tote bag—there are plenty of cleverly designed, lightweight, rolling suitcases out there, like this carry-on from IT Luggage which will start your scale off at a mere 4.07 lbs. 

Consider Lighter Alternatives for Travel Essentials

There are some everyday essentials that I never travel without, but also never gave much thought to how much weight they add. For example, an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrush users know it’s tough to go back to a manual version, but they certainly are bulky to pack. However, a bit of research will find travel-friendly alternatives for everyday items—like that toothbrush. I now only pack the Philips One Rechargeable Toothbrush, which comes with its own travel case and weighs a mere 0.23 lbs (compared to my non-travel friendly electric toothbrush that weighs 0.83 lbs). 

Go through your toiletry stash and be similarly ruthless about other products. Could you swap your full-sized hairbrush for a travel version, or sub your silicone toiletry bottles for ones that are five times lighter? You’d be surprised at how quickly those weight trade-offs will pay off.

Pack By Your Itinerary

Woman sitting on a bed and working on tablet surrounded by a map, sunglasses, a hat, and small pocket books
Halfpoint | Adobe Stock

It’s tempting to just check the weather at your destination and throw in a bunch of shirts, shorts, pants, etc. However, that’s how you wind up with a suitcase that’s overpacked with random clothes you’ll never wear on your trip. Smart travelers know that you should pack by your itinerary rather than your destination. Go through each day of your trip and decide what outfits you’ll need to wear that day, and pack only the clothes you plan to wear for each portion of your trip. You’ll eliminate packing extras and save a ton of weight. 

Pick Your Plane Outfit Wisely

Always wear your heaviest clothes and shoes on the plane. Weight doesn’t count for your luggage allowance when it’s worn! Wearing your heavy boots and packing your flats makes much more sense than the other way around. Plus, wearing (or at least carrying) your heaviest outer layer (like a jacket) is always wise for often-freezing plane cabins.

Split Weight Between Your Suitcase and Personal Item

A woman looking at her phone in an airport
Alena Ozerova | Adobe Stock

Most airlines don’t include your personal item (like a purse or small backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you) in your luggage allowance. (However, some do, so be sure to check with your airline before utilizing this strategy.) If your personal item is a freebie, make sure you fill it up with some heavy items to lighten up your suitcase. I generally tend to pack my toiletries kit in my personal item—both to help save on weight and so that I will have the essentials with me in case my luggage gets lost.  

Pack a Lightweight Laundry Kit

A laundry kit will add a little bit of weight but will save you in the long run, since you’ll be able to get away with packing less. A good rule for travelers is to pack enough clothing for a week, and then plan on doing a bit of laundry to extend your wardrobe for the rest of the trip. 

Pick Multitasking Items

A shawl/blanket, a 2 in 1 shampoo/body wash combo, or a reversible dress—these items all serve more than one purpose and therefore pull more than their weight in your suitcase. Choose multitasking items to pack wherever possible, and you’ll be able to cut the weight of your suitcase nearly in half. 

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