Most airlines have a weight limit for luggage, and exceeding this limit can mean that you need to pay extra fees simply to board your flight.
For this reason, weighing your luggage before a flight is a great idea.
However, most people don’t have a scale at home that can easily weigh luggage.
Fortunately, there are several methods for estimating weight at home that can help you gauge whether your suitcase is too heavy.
Estimate the Weight
One of the easiest ways to figure out how much your luggage weighs is to estimate the weight by comparing it to other objects.
Most airlines have a weight limit of 50 pounds or about 22.7 kilograms.
All you need to do is ensure that your full suitcase feels like it weighs less than an object that weighs about 50 pounds.
There are a few household items that can help you estimate. A large bag of dog or cat food usually weighs about 50 pounds, and the bag will have the exact weight printed right on it, so this is an excellent tool for estimating.
Medium-sized dogs can also weigh about 50 pounds, so if you know how heavy your dog is, you can compare that weight to your suitcase.
Six gallons of water also weigh right around 50 pounds. Even if you don’t have 6 gallons, using 2 or 3 gallons can help you determine if your suitcase feels heavier or lighter, and you can add or subtract items as needed.
Two average cinderblocks also weigh about 50 pounds.
You can also compare weights with any dumbbells or weights you have around the house.
Make a Fulcrum
Estimating weights by using a comparison item can be very useful and quick, but it’s not exact.
For something that’s a bit more exact, you can make your own fulcrum scale at home.
To do this for an object as large as a suitcase, you’ll need a large plank of wood and an object, such as a rock or another piece of wood, to balance the plank on.
You’re aiming for something that looks like a seesaw. On one side, you can put your full suitcase. On the other, you can place items, such as the full bag of dog food, two cinderblocks, or dumbbells that add up to 50 pounds.
If the plank is mostly balanced when you’ve finished placing the items, your suitcase weighs about 50 pounds. If the fulcrum tips towards the items, your suitcase is under the weight limit.
Using a fulcrum can also help you determine which of your items weigh the most.
You can add or remove items to figure out which essentials you can take and what might need to be left at home or moved into a different bag.
Use a Free Scale
You may not have a scale at home, but there are a few places you can visit that have free scales you can use to weigh your luggage.
If you’ve added items to your luggage while vacationing and you’re not sure how heavy your suitcase has become, hotels sometimes offer a free scale, either at the hotel gym or in the hotel room itself, which you can use to weigh your luggage.
If the scale is too small for weighing luggage, you can weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the luggage.
Subtract the first weight from the second weight, and you’ll be left with the weight of your luggage.
If you have a gym membership or there’s a community gym nearby, there’s probably a scale you can use there.
Post offices also have scales for weighing large items, and you might be able to ask if you can weigh your luggage there.
What should you do if your luggage is over the weight limit?
Sometimes, you need to pack everything, and there’s no option for staying below the weight limit.
If this occurs, you have a few choices. You can take out a few things that are too heavy, but you don’t necessarily need to leave these items behind.
You can pack them in a carry-on, which doesn’t get weighed. However, you’ll be carrying this item, so make sure you’re not putting anything too heavy in it.
Removing a few light items and placing them in your carry-on, however, doesn’t put too much strain on you, and it might get your suitcase weight to just under where it needs to be.
You can also tuck a few items into your pockets or handbag. Most airlines allow for one personal item, such as a handbag or laptop bag, and one carry-on, so make use of the space and pockets these items have to hold onto your phone, chargers, books, or anything else you can carry without a hassle.
Remember, also, that although most airlines don’t weigh your carry-on, some will, so try to keep the weight down as much as possible and spread the items between your carry-on and your personal item.
If you’ve weighed your bag before leaving and you know it’s overweight, you can also take a few items out before flying and visit the post office to send the items home or to your destination through the mail.
Although you’ll need to pay for this, it can sometimes be less expensive than the fee the airline charges for overweight bags.
You can also divide the contents of one suitcase into two suitcases. Whether this will save you money depends on the airline.
Some airlines offer one or two checked bags for free, while others only offer one checked bag.
Still, other airlines charge for each bag. It’s always a good idea to check the policies for checked bags, fees for bags, and the weight limits for each airline before you get to the airport.
You can also always try to check your overweight bag. Depending on the airline and the person checking you in, a bag that’s a few pounds overweight might be overlooked.