Tips to pack light & avoid excess baggage fees

November 17, 2017
Shree Ravi

An image of a suitcase after tips to pack light were followed

Some might think packing is an arduous task…

Others like doing it as it gets them super excited about their upcoming trip.

Frankly, I am kind of one of those in-between ones.

Whichever category you belong to I think you’ll agree that finding out your luggage is overweight at the check-in counter is extremely frustrating.

Packing can be tricky business especially if you don’t have a fixed itinerary and for a nomad like me that’s pretty much all the time. How & what you pack pretty much determines the comfort & freedom you enjoy during the journey.

Having a packing list ready can help but besides that, you would want to travel light.


I’ve listed some of the tips I’ve learn’t (most of them the hard way!) which can help make your travel experience super smooth.


1. It all starts with the luggage

“Now get 40% off on … luggage”

We’ve all been tempted to; heck we do buy things that are on sale. In the case of luggage, in my experience at least I’ve grown to question why some of em are on sale. More often than not the ones that have huge discounts tend to be heavier suitcases.

I can tell you this 1st hand that my parents bought one that had a 30% discount only to find that it weighed a lot more than my own one that was exactly the same size. This doesn’t happen all the time of course but it’s better to be on the lookout.

So make sure you look for a lightweight luggage if you are looking to buy a new one now or are looking to upgrade.

Many items in a carry on luggage are shown here

Saving money is definitely important so try buying luggage sets instead of individual pieces. In most cases, the set of carry-on+ mid-size + a large size suitcase will be heavily discounted. This leads me to my next tip…


Try to get yourself a 26” and use its expansion capabilities instead of getting a 30”+ suitcase.

How does that help?

Well, it’s usually in our nature to pack luggage till it’s completely full. If you have a 26 or 27” that’s expanded even if you pack it completely there’s much less likelihood of going over. (This is dependent upon what you are taking of course)

If you have a set, you can switch based on the trip’s duration which gives you more flexibility!

If you have a really nice suitcase already then you just need to make use of a luggage scale. Digital scales these days are super accurate and spending a few bucks on one can save you a lot in the long run.


2. Take versatile items

Dental floss, coconut oil, and others can be used for multiple situations. Dental floss is a pretty neat item to tie stuff with or hang your clothes on. Similarly, coconut oil doubles up as a moisturizer and hair gel too. These are pretty handy especially for women but do remember to keep them sealed.

an image of a virgin coconut oil bottle in the wilderness

Rubber bands are another that are practically weightless and can be used for many things like compressing socks or clothes, keeping your stationery from having a field trip in your bag etc.

Is your blanket heavy? Do you have only bulky towels? Just use a sarong. This is one of the most versatile items, especially for women.


3. Develop a “carry on only” mentality

Try to avoid check-in baggage in the first place. As you get more & more efficient with the way you pack, you’ll find that you will utilize your space better and the carry-on luggage all of a sudden will feel large enough for that 4-day trip.

If you are heading out on a longer trip & a large luggage is essential then try to take a backpack as your carry-on instead of a suitcase. This way you can explore your destination easier.


4. Quick dry clothing

You know those quick-dry hiking socks you only use on skiing trips? Well, quick-dry items have many other use cases too. Quick-dry socks and underwear are pretty awesome to have since you can wash & dry them in a couple of hours.

Skip cotton wherever you can.

Quick dry fabrics which work even in warm conditions are great. Quick dry fabrics are great at wicking moisture away which means they also have the added advantage of not developing odor even when you are doing things at a brisk pace. You can easily get socks & underwear and some thermal wear that will fit the bill.

A quick tip, if you are a guy and are traveling through some beachy locations buy a pair of board shorts instead of packing many ordinary shorts. These are super light and tend to dry minutes after you get out of the water. Similarly, swimwear for women is practically weightless and super useful.

If you don’t want to invest in clothing right now… No problem! Most places have laundry machines & driers so…

Clothes drying on a hill top is on display here

5. Pack less & do your laundry!

It’s 2017 folks!

Unless you’re headed to some remote part of the planet, you’ll find everything you need at your destination. If you think you need X amount of stuff. Take 3 quarters or half of it.

Trust me when your friend or someone you know calls in the middle of your trip & asks you to buy something for them in the middle of your trip, you will be glad you packed less.

Also Jeans!

Irrespective of which gen you belong to they work & can be worn multiple times. Packing just 1 should suffice for most trips.

Try to pack at the most for 5-7 days and you can always do laundry after that for the remainder of your trip!


6. Reduce the number of electronics & wires

Traveling is always exhilarating, traveling really allows you to grow as a person. So why not, cut down on the number of electronic devices you take with you?

It’s always healthier to stare at a snow-capped mountain range or a flower-filled valley through your own eyes rather than through a lens.

Besides, when you are on the move in a new city or country, you can use the opportunity to talk to people around you learn where the best bars are from the locals instead of google. In addition, to getting what you want you can also make some new friends which won’t happen if you ask your phone.

Looking for a restaurant with a good vibe? Looking to make friends? Ask around, talk to people around you.

There are scenarios where…

Wires may be a necessity but they are just a pain to carry around if you ask me.

Assuming you have a phone, tablet & a laptop like myself you might have anywhere between 1-3 charger wires depending upon whether you use similar brands or not.

Minimal travel gear

Mix an Apple phone & an android tablet and voila!

Instead, opt for a portable charger or power banks. Decent capacity chargers can hold multiple charges for your tablet, phone and even in some cases your laptop. This also gives you some more packing room.

Try to go wireless as much as possible in terms of charging & even headphones since they are cross-compatible most of the time.

Manage this & you can sneak in an extra book or two for a long flight!


7. Stay organized

Once you’ve made a decision on taking less or just your carry-on then really make sure you stay organized and gain more space. Packing cubes are one way to do it. The way you pack your clothes rolling them vs folding can also have a say in terms of space.

This way you will be surprised how much can actually fit in a 21” suitcase.

Packing in a super organized fashion before you are used to skipping the big luggage, for instance, can put you in a vicious cycle where…

You pack efficiently… get more room… fill the space subconsciously… and go overweight again… Ugh!

Make sure that doesn’t happen! (Yep this is one that I learned the hard way)

It’s not uncommon to make friends & alter your travel plans. Quite the opposite, it’s kind of like the ideal scenario isn’t it?

Meet new people, tag along to new destinations, and explore different things. A trip where you started out in Australia and ended up in Ireland can be pretty good fun!

In this instance, staying organized and gaining that extra space can be super helpful… You can easily have room for some winter clothes when you get up north if you pack as light as possible in the first place.



With these 7 tips, I think you should be all set to have a pleasant experience in the airport & during your trip. If you have other tips that you think I should add please leave a comment below!

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There are 2 comments

  • Simona W. says:

    Reduce the number of wires should be changed to reduced the number of electronics you take with you

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