ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Travel Tips & Preparation

Lightweight Suitcases And Tips For Packing

Updated on December 30, 2013

Light weight is...

Light weight for luggage is relative. Light weight luggage for my son is completely different than light weight for me. I don't think any luggage is light weight and he doesn't think any luggage is heavy.

Some items to consider when deciding on luggage:

  • What kind of traveling do you do? Leisure/business?
  • What kind of clothes? Play clothes/business/formal?
  • What is the length of your trip?
  • What kind of transportation? Casual travel(car tours, backpacking) Formal travel (airline, train)
  • Will you be traveling Internationally or domestically?
  • Will you be checking your luggage or carrying it on?
  • Will you keep your luggage for a long time; Is it durable?

A typical light weight suitcase is somewhere between 7 pound and 15 pounds. Though in the past year several of the suitcases I have seen on sale at Costco have been lighter. A duffel bag or backpack can truly be lightweight. REI has rolling backpacks that weigh 7.5lbs for around $250.00. L.L. Bean has lightweight luggage for reasonable prices too.

Choose Your Luggage Carefully

Choosing the right luggage is important. I looked up the size limits for the flight to Memphis on the airlines website before buying a new suitcase. Sometimes the plane you are flying on doesn't meet the qualification on the website. The carrier was, obviously, aware of the situation. My case was checked at the gate without charge. On the return trip, same carrier, the case fit the plane overhead compartments. When using an expanding suitcase be careful it still meets airline specifications after it expands if you are planning to use it for carry-on.

When packing consider how much weight you can lift. This is important for carry-on luggage. No one wants to pay more for checked luggage, but it is really annoying when the people in front of you can't manage their luggage.

Some of the new planes have pull down overhead luggage bins. At 5'9" I had difficulty getting my case out of this sort of bin.

Light weight should be determined by the scale weight of a bag and your strength. If you can't lift the bag consider paying the fee and checking your case.

What Kind Of Luggage Do You Like?

What kind of Luggage do you like best?

See results

Luggage Disaster

At the age of nine Mom and I took the StarLIght express from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Why it's called the express remains a mystery. It was an all night affair. My uncle and mom both tried to convince me to take one of my doll suitcases and let them send the rest of my things by mail. My play suit cases had eight pieces.

After that trip I learned the value of having the right luggage. Too many pieces are a nuisance and not enough triggers a shopping spree.

Really light weight luggage, until recently, was made out of titanium. Therefore it was very expensive. Recently luggage made of polycarbonate has come on the market reducing cost substantially. Polycarbonate luggage gives your goods the safety of hard sided luggage without the weight.

Once You Have Chosen Your Luggage

Once you have chosen your luggage; packing is the next important step toward a successful tip.

Know Where You Are Going

Knowing the geography of Australia will make a trip there much nicer. December is summer and June is winter down under. Traveling lightly if you are going to Australia in June and then on to the Philippines will require both cool weather and warm weather clothing.

Remember, if you are south of the equator winter will be in the summer of the Northern Hemisphere and summer south of the equator will be winter in the Northern Hemisphere

These days you can track the weather just about anywhere on the internet.

In the days before internet a friend was taking his family on a surprise trip over spring break. He told them to pack for warm weather. He would have been correct if they had been going to the Grand Canyon during the summer, but in April it is quite another story. He ended up buying everyone coats,long pants,gloves,hats and snow boots. He was from Indiana and everyone went to Arizona for the winter. He didn't realize northern Arizona could include high altitude and snow in April.

Packing Tips


Our family plays this game: pack everything you need, still keeping the luggage light, and return home with a clean pair of socks and underwear. This is how you can accomplish this.

Lay out everything you will be taking on a flat surface. When you are satisfied with what you are taking fit it into the suitcase. Mementos can be shipped home.

Keep the idea of shipping things home in mind for trips where you buy lots of things. It is easier than trying to juggle luggage though an airport.


Packing For The Correct Season

Check the weather before you go. Growing up in San Francisco gives you an unusual perspective of summer. A native would never go out in the evening without a sweater or jacket. It gets cold here at night during the summer. I wasn't convinced that you could go to Chicago and really not need a sweater on my first visit. I can tell you it is gospel truth. You don't need a sweater in Chicago during the summer. Check the weather, then only believe three quarters of what they predict.

Cold weather packing tips:

  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Wool scarves can keep you pretty toasty during the winter, spring or fall when you aren't sure of the weather.
  • Down jackets or vests stuff beautifully into small spaces and will be sufficient in January even in Chicago.
  • Layer what you wear. Tee shirts, camisoles and tank tops are good ideas to pack when the weather is uncertain.
  • Long underwear can double as pajamas during the winter.
  • Swimsuit (You never know it there will be a hot tub).
  • Toiletries

Wear your heaviest shoes on the airplane. Yes they are a pain to take off at security, but it will save weight in your luggage. Wear socks, so you can take your shoes off during the flight.

Pacific Grove Spring

Pacific Grove Beach May
Pacific Grove Beach May | Source

Warm weather Packing tips: packing for warm weather trips usually depends on what you will be doing. Unless you are coming to Northern California. In that case pack for a cold spring and add a pair of shorts, flip flops, and a tank top.

Mark Twain once said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." You can drive a few miles for very warm weather. Cold, foggy weather is normal during the summer months in San Francisco.

For normal summer trips you may consider bringing:

  • Swim suit
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Skirts
  • Tops
  • Sunscreen (If flying you may have to purchase at your destination because of T.S.A. rules)
  • Toiletries
  • Sweater or sweat shirt (handy on a cold airplane)
  • Hat with visor
  • Appropriate shoes and socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare prescription glasses or contact lens

Northern California Pacific Coast Summer

Pacific Grove July29, 2013
Pacific Grove July29, 2013 | Source

Consider The Kinds Of Activities You Will Encounter On Your Trip

Regardless of the purpose (business or pleasure) a swim suit, running/workout clothes always have a place in my suitcase.

If you are going on a houseboat trip (casual) all you need is swim suits, shorts, tee shirts and a sweats for cool evenings, Don't forget the ski or wakeboarding boat and the life vests.

If you are going on a cruise (formal) You need daytime and evening clothes,

International travel requires culturally sensitive clothing. Ladies on the Riviera need very little at the beach, while shorts in the middle east and much of the continent of Africa could get you put in jail. Showing upper arms in many places is not acceptable for men or women even in the hottest locations of the world..

A large scarf that can double as a wrap skirt or shawl might be a useful.

For the bicyclist a pair of cycling shoes, bike shorts, and a bike seat to add to a rental bike might be appropriate.

Runners don't forget your running shoes, GPS/heart rate monitor, and (empty) water bottle.


Pay Attention To Color

Color is very important when packing. Monochromatic clothing with a splash of color can minimize how much clothing you need. In the winter black works well. The rest of the year khaki works well. A pair of black/khaki slacks, jeans, a skirt, sweater, black shoes,and colorful tops works nicely for a woman for a week.

The ratio of tops to bottoms is three tops to a skirt or pair of pants. Consider the length of trip and whether you will have laundry facilities. An undershirt extends the length of time you can wear a shirt.

I always pack a swimsuit. Inevitably the times the suit stayed home opportunities for a dip in a hot tub, sauna or swimming pool appeared. Germany in the middle of the winter found me unexpectedly in Baden Baden with no suit. (Suits were optional). Pack a swimsuit even in the winter. if you like water, it is surprising where you might use a swimsuit. Grandma might like to take you to her aqua aerobics class because her gym has an indoor pool.

Children's Clothes

Pack outfits and toiletries into gallon storage bags for an easy way to organize small children's  clothing.
Pack outfits and toiletries into gallon storage bags for an easy way to organize small children's clothing. | Source

Tips For Packing Children's Suitcases

When the kids are little and you are in control of their luggage you may consider some of these ideas.

Pack children's suitcases by outfits. Ziploc bags allow you to put all the parts of an outfit together. Place a top, bottom, underwear, and socks in a gallon Ziploc bag. Press the air out before completely closing the bag to make bags compact. Older children should help pack their outfits then they can pick the outfit they want to wear each day without having to dig through their whole suitcase. Have a plastic bag to separate dirty clothes in your luggage. Reuse the bags which had clean clothes in them. There are all sort of uses for those bags. They can be used for ice bags,containers to carry snacks, or travel sickness.

On This Map You Can See How Brazil And Australia Are Both Below The Equator Which Indicates They Have Different Seasons Than The Northern Hemisphere

What Are You Waiting For

You have picked the best luggage for you. You have picked a wardrobe for travel. Now all you need is a trip. Follow your dreams.

Bon Voyage

© 2013 Judy Specht


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Those are some excellent packing tips for travel. Minimize the jewelry also to not only lighten the load but for safety reasons as well. A tip told to my hubby some time ago is when traveling overseas, wear old underwear that is ready to be discarded. Then discard each day and that makes more room to bring brochures and other goodies acquired along the way back home. He does that now.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      GamaGoldie. Makeup is the bain of my existence too. Basic is all I take. I look at what the girls that hang out here use and am amazed. They carry more make up than clothing.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Wonderful! Wheels are a must! Young, old, wheels are a must! My husband's young, athletic, body builder frowned when I stated wheels - after his first trip, he admitted his folly! Weather is key. The weight nowadays is critical so adding a scale - sadly may also be a must today. BTW - packing make-up drives me crazy!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California


      Weather this winter has made me wonder if I needed to pack a lightweight sleeping bag. 80,000 flights canceled this winter ,in US because of weather, makes me think the likelihood of spending the night in an airport is fairly high.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Useful tips well detailed out. Thanks.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      cygnetbrown- Greetings. When I was much younger adventuring throughout Europe for a summer with one change of clothes and a couple of pairs of underwear was fashionable. That was too skimpy for me, hopefully this is a balance.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I always overpack and it always looks jumbled up! Thanks for the tips. Perhaps it will help me next time to pack somewhat lighter.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      VVanNess, When you never wear 1/2 what you take it makes you think if carrying it was worth it. Thanks for visiting. Happy Travels!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I love the great tips! Very nice job on teaching everyone to pack lighter. I had to learn the hard way this last few years that I didn't really need everything that I was packing. I'm glad I did! It has made traveling so much easier! Great article!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Eiddwen so glad you stopped in. You reminded me that I need to call someone about a trip we are making to Alaska next summer.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and very useful.Voted up and wishing you a great day.


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      DDE with a little practice it really is easy. Thanks for stopping in.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Lightweight Suitcases And Tips For Packing sounds so easy and convenient, the helpful tips here are useful to all travelers.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      ignugent174, Greetings. Hope you have many days of travel coming your way this year.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Very useful ! thanks for the tips. :-)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Oceansnsunset, it is annoying when you pack the wrong things. When you don't pack enough going shopping at your destination results in new stuff and souvenirs you will always use. Happy sailing wherever you go.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I love to travel, and this is a wonderful hub regarding packing and the right suitcases. I have made the bad choice many times of packing too much, which is a nuisance. Thank you for your tips!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Greast tips no matter where you're traveling to. For me, the lighter the better.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Quite insightful and detailed. You really prepared a packing guide. Thank you very much.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Vellur, Happy New year. So good of you to stop by. The older I get the more I like to keep things simple.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great tips for packing and having a great time without having to lug around over packed suitcases. Great hub, voted up.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Flourish, I always forget the same things myself. I have a standardized list somewhere.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Excellent tips, very thorough. I especially like your tips to pack certain items in ziploc bags. We have a customized check-list for packing so we don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. That really helps; I always seemed to forget the same things.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      I had my very first large suitcase stuffed with baby clothes until October. With a new baby it was time to bring the clothes out of storage and let the 50 year old #25 case go. We look for suitcases at garage sales when we are traveling overseas and want to bring a bag of stuff to leave with friends. Thanks Jackie for adventuring over.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I love the light weight roller and I have all kinds. Pick it up brand new at yard sales for practically nothing and use them for storage too. Great advice. ^

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Thanks Eric. Happy New Years!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done.

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 4 years ago

      Excellent tips and ideas. You have covered all we need to remember. Happy travels to all!