My biggest mistake I always make when traveling is over packing. I constantly bring too much stuff and often find myself paying a ridiculously expensive fee for an overweight suitcase on my journey home.
The first time I had an overweight bag; I paid a 100 euro fine, that comes out to about 113 US dollars. The second overweight bag, I paid 200 US dollars. Those fees alone could have purchased me a plane ticket somewhere completely new! After that, I didn’t have a third overweight bag. Here are my tips to keep that suitcase light.
1. Bring Two Suitcases
I pride myself on being a good packer. I know the best ways to roll clothes and fill pockets for max capacity in my suitcases. I can fit so much in my bags that typically space is not the problem, but the weight becomes dangerous. It was time for me to drop my pride and bring two smaller suitcases.
Pro tip: You can’t go over in weight if both of your suitcases at max capacity are too small to hold the overweight amount.
I absolutely love carrying around only one bag, however, I’ve come to a point where I have to drop my pride and opt for multiple smaller bags. Spread out that weight! Most airports allow you to check two bags for free and even if you want to check a third the price is STILL much lower than paying for one overweight bag. Save those $$$’s for another trip, not an overweight bag.
Look into different suitcase sets and find one that expresses your style and is in your budget. It's possible to do both. Often you can find them more reasonably priced than buying a bunch of mismatched suitcases separately and they come in all ranges of sizes. Just remember, if they're too cheap, it means it will break.
2. Weigh Your Bag at Home
I got my digital luggage scale as a Christmas present and soon found out it was the most practical gift I've ever received. These little guys tell you your suitcase weight in whatever unit you prefer with way more accuracy than your bathroom scale. Not to mention they’re small enough to stick in the front pocket of your suitcase to check the weight of your bag on the journey back home as well.
Often I have different items I debate on throwing before coming back home. Knowing exactly how much I can fit in my bag before it’s overweight helps me know what I can bring and what worn out shoes I should just throw. Remember, a new, clean pair of shoes often will cost half of what you’re paying for your overweight bag.
3. Keep Organized
If you keep accessories and toiletries well organized it not only makes living out of your suitcase so much easier but also keeps that weight down. I promise you, when it comes to soaps, jewelry, make-up, you don’t need as much as you think you do…like hardly ever. Please, do yourself the biggest favor and buy some kind of travel organizer.
I absolutely love my hanging Vera Bradley travel organizer. Let me tell you. It is wonderful. It has a pocket covered in plastic for shampoo, conditioner, and anything else that could break and spill, a pocket I keep for medicine, a pocket for accessories and one other pocket that commonly turns into my “overflow” pocket.
Not only that, but it unrolls so when I come to my destination of choice, I hang it on a doorknob or rack and I don’t have to worry about unpacking or repacking for convenience. There are so many different kinds of styles, all ranging in patterns, shape and price ranges.
If it doesn’t fit in my travel organizer it doesn’t go with me on the trip. If it doesn’t fit, you don’t need it. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Travel Size is Your Friend
Nowadays they make travel sized everything. You can get travel size toothpaste, mouth wash, shampoo and conditioner, q-tips, lotion, makeup-whatever your heart desires. My best advice is to buy a reusable set. I have a plastic, reusable, bottle travel set that I fill up before I leave home.
If I’m going on a short trip of two weeks or less, I don’t need more than that amount anyways. If I’m going on a longer trip, I buy more when I get there and save what I have in my portable bottles for the journey.
Remember, you can always buy more. No matter where you’re going, you’ll be able to buy your basic necessities. Even if you’re traveling somewhere rural, there will be some kind of town near your airport. Dragging around extra weight in the sake of lotion and shampoo is just silly.
5. Souvenir Shop with a Purpose
If you already plan on bringing souvenirs home, make sure to leave even more empty space in your bags on your way there because you will always end up with more than you think. My advice may be against popular views but you DO NOT have to, neither are you expected to, buy something for everyone in your contact list.
This sometimes can be so hard. If you’re like me, I love bringing home gifts for family and friends…but can I be real honest for a second? How many little trinkets have I received from friends and family and eventually (I said brutally honest right?) gotten rid of because they’re too much clutter and not my own memories to start with. Before you even go, make a little list of the most important people you want to buy for and make yourself stick to that list once you’re on the hunt for presents. Remember, although a nice gesture, travel is about memories.
If you’re dead set on buying a souvenir for yourself, find something small and practical. I personally collect postcards. It’s my “Check! I’ve been there!” item that is easy to take home. I hang them all side by side on a clothespin rope in my room and I’m so proud of each and every one.
Instead of spending your money on all kinds of “dust collectors”, invest in cultural foods, taxis to new areas, day adventures. These are the things you’ll remember that won’t add an ounce to your suitcase.
6. Don't Bring Unnecessary Paper Weight
Okay, so this is the hardest category for me because despite saving weight on toiletries, and souvenirs I love to bring so many books along with me. If you’re a reader or journal-er like me, it’s hard to decide which books to bring on the trip and which to leave at home. Not to mention I always think I’ll read or write more than I do.
For me, it was a hard transition to switch over to my first e-reader but in the end, it saved me so much back pain-literally. I bought a kindle fire solely because it was the cheapest tablet on the market I could find. I was afraid to buy into a tablet thinking I would spend too much money buying the books but there are literally thousands of free titles to surf. If I ever buy a book, which is rare, I usually spend less than 5 dollars. Obviously, that is much cheaper than carrying a hardback anyways.
I always have on me my bible, a dictionary, research books, books to read for fun and a couple extra cause I don’t like to feel like limited. I save so much weight, and trouble having my kindle let alone being able to read in the dark on the beach at night or in a tent.
If you are a reader, this is the best investment you can make. For your budget, and most importantly in the case of this article, your suitcase!
Have you ever gotten stuck with an overweight bag fee? What are you best tips for packing light? Let us know in the comments below! It’s not very hard to keep your suitcase weight in check as long as you keep in mind these basic tips! I promise, packing and staying organized is easier when you love your travel equipment!
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As always, God Bless and I hope to see you somewhere around the world.