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Packing Light for a Carefree Journey

There are few travel annoyances more avoidable than paying an overcharge for overweight luggage. If the charge is $50 each way, that’s $100 per bag. So pack smart and keep from paying heavy-luggage fees.

Here are some tips we gleaned from a variety of sources, including frequent travelers and Web sites dedicated to the cause.

Fill the Space

If you are so efficient, the bag is now too big for what you really need, blow up a portable pillow to fill the space. The pillow keeps things from shifting and getting wrinkled but doesn’t weigh anything. It also reserves room for souvenirs and other purchases. Just deflate the pillow.

Check with Your Airline to See What the Weight Restrictions are on Bags.

Step on a scale and check your weight. Step off, pick up your bag and step on again. You should get a pretty good idea of how much your bag weighs.

Pack a Smaller Bag than You Think You'll Need

If you choose a smaller bag, you also have to choose carefully which items you’ll actually pack. Blue dress or black? Pick one. Change the look with accessories, like pretty scarves (weigh nothing), a light jacket or different jewelry. For men, one lightweight sports coat and pants should get you into all but the fanciest restaurants. If you’re worried, add a tie.

All About Shoes

They can weigh more than just about anything else in your bag. Keep them to a minimum. A good pair of walking shoes and a pair of dress shoes should get you through just about any situation. And forget slippers. Pack slipper socks (or regular socks) instead.

Divide and Conquer

You won’t need a camera on the plane, but if you have a real one, put it in your carry-on so it doesn’t get weighed. On a trip overseas, put your adapters for electronics in carry-on bags because they’re quite heavy.

Call Ahead

If you’re headed to the beach, does the hotel provide beach towels? Do they have robes and hairdryers in the rooms? Is snorkeling gear provided
or rentable? If it’s a rainy climate or season, does the hotel provide umbrellas? All things you won’t have to pack.

Pack Throwaways

Do you have an old nightgown that has seen better days, a sweater you secretly hate? Pack them and, after using them, toss them in the trash, lightening your load