How to Package Luggage Under 50 Pounds - Quicken Loans Zing BlogThere’s nothing I loathe more than hauling my luggage through the airport, dragging it up to the ticket counter, and nearly breaking my back to lift my suitcase onto the scale. What grinds my gears even more is when a sassy airline worker has the audacity to point to the scale’s readout and scoff, “Fifty-one pounds. That’s going to be an additional charge.” Luckily, I travel in an entourage most of the time (meaning, with my mom or in the past, college teammates) and am able to divvy up my excess baggage into their belongings to meet the strict TSA weight requirements. This is not ideal though, do you realize how embarrassing it is to unpack your bag in front of a line full of smirking strangers?

Maybe you’re already a luggage-packing expert and never in a thousand centuries would you ever approach the limit (I envy you and your willpower to not pack another pair of shoes – bravo!). In case a blue moon rises before your next flight and you find yourself in a full-fledged war with a suitcase zipper, check out these tips to keep things at 49 and under.

Pack Sensible Outfits.

Unless you’re going to Fashion Week in Paris or a royal wedding, you can likely get away with wearing something twice during your voyage. The best way to tackle this is to strategize an ensemble with wardrobe staples (stick to a basic color scheme if you can) that will yield you at least three outfits per item. For ease when you arrive, pre-match the outfits as you pack them, that way you can jump off the plane and into the Limbo line on the Lido deck!

Ladies, accessories like scarves and big colorful necklaces or bangles can jazz up any plain looking top (that you may have already worn on the journey) to produce a completely different look that transitions easily from day to evening. Fellas, as long as you avoid wild prints and stripes, wearing the same shirt or pair of pants twice is acceptable (but try to find a washing machine in your hotel if you can). Choose coordinating lightweight shoes in neutral colors like black, brown, gold, and silver (not white because it’s after Labor Day, for my fashion conscious friends).

Wear Your Heaviest Stuff.

I hope you’re not jet-setting anywhere snowy during this time of year… although Alaska is quite a nice destination during late summer and early fall. In the event that you’re actually headed to Iceland or anywhere that has frozen tundra, I’ve got a worthwhile tip for you. Wear your heaviest sweaters, jackets, and coats (perhaps snow pants?) during your flight. As cold as airplanes typically are, it’s a great idea that saves room in your suitcase. Besides, if you board a plane looking like a snowman in every piece of clothing you own, a Southwest flight attendant might do a cool rap about it and you’ll end up the next YouTube sensation.

Bring Small Quantities.

If you’re traveling in a posse, what’s the need to bring multiple hair dryers and huge bottles of conditioner? Plan ahead for members of your traveling party to bring one of each item that you can share. This goes for sunscreen, hair products, lotion, and other small hair appliances.

They might seem like a waste of your precious money, but an entire collection of those little plastic travel-sized bottles will only set you back a few bucks and will hold the perfect amount for a short trip. The benefit? More room in your suitcase, duh! It’s also an ideal time to put all those samples to good use that you’ve been hoarding.

Roll Your Clothing.

Well, we’ve all heard this one before and it really does make sense. First of all, no one likes wrinkly clothes. Although your hotel room should have a handy-dandy iron for your use, why not skip that process entirely by having fresh looking shirts when you arrive? More importantly, rolling your garments does save space (hey, shouldn’t we trust the word of flight attendants?). Just like a Fruit Roll Up (the tastiest and most convenient treat from childhood, along with Dunk-a-roos), wind your cotton and casual items together in order to leave space for dressy pieces you’ll want to leave flat. It’s also idyllic to stuff socks and other smaller items into nooks and crannies.

Leave Room for Purchases.

I’d like to shout out to my mom for this tip. If you’re going somewhere and know you’ll be doing a bit of credit card swiping, spare yourself some room in your suitcase on the way there. Who wants to shop ‘til they drop and then not be able to bring it all home? Oh, the sadness I would feel in returning it all! When you’re headed away for a longer period of time and know in advance you’ll have a few too many things, simply pack an easily foldable nylon duffle bag along with your things. Sure, you’ll have to pay an extra $50 bucks for the extra bag, but who can stand leaving all that behind? If you found the rarest bone China while traveling that you can vividly picture your Thanksgiving dinners being served on, just ship it back to avoid having to eat off shards of dinnerware.

Pack Heaviest Items at the Bottom.

This is another great idea I got from an airline employee in Huntsville, Alabama. She explained that if you pack your heaviest items (such as shoes and massive John Grisham books if you’re going to a sandy beach locale) at the bottom of your suitcase, it equalizes the weight more effectively once it’s placed on the scale. Any engineers reading: please feel free to comment on this article to explain the mad science behind this phenomenon.

If you haven’t just shed about five pounds worth of clothing and shoes out of your bag right now, you’re probably somehow related to my family (in which over-packing is a genetically inherited trait). Safe and happy travels!


Stephanie Koske writes for Quicken Loans and loves that it’s one of the most amazing places to work.  Check out the Quicken Loans YouTube page and learn more about what it’s like to work at QL.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Valuable piece – I loved the insight – Does someone know where my company can get ahold of a fillable NARA SF 180 copy to complete ?

  2. Packing heavy items at the bottom likely adds error to the scale which in some cases may be in your favor and other times wont make a difference. There’s a chance your unevenly distributed mass ends up on the right place on the scale to cause it to tilt ever so slightly causing a reduced force on the sensor element. A good scale will use multiple sensors and leave a gap to prevent the plate resting against the sides of its enclosure. But in some cases the unbalanced load on the sensor will result in a smaller force down on it, which translates to less mass being calculated.

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