With ever-increasing luggage fees, it’s more important than ever to pack smart! There seem to be a variety of lists on what to pack and how to pack, but with the goal of minimizing, it’s also important to know what NOT to pack. Here are our top 5 recommendations on which items to do without.

1. A heavy bag

Get off to a good start by avoiding heavy bags. A lighter weight suitcase is the place where you will save yourself the most weight! Choose the lightest but the most durable option for both carry-on bags and checked suitcases.

2. What to read

Instead of a physical book, opt for an e-book, i-reader, tablet, or iPad. If you still prefer to read from a physical book, then take a lighter weight softcover book and pack it in your onboard personal item (purse, backpack, or briefcase). Your personal item is the one thing that airlines don’t weigh (yet!).

If you’re going to a country where English is common, consider buying a book at your destination. If in a non-English country, often the resort, condo or vacation rental has a small library where people have left behind the books they’ve read with the intent that you can take one to read. As for magazines, most non-English countries charge ridiculous prices for English magazines. In that case, it’s best to subscribe (even short term) for an online version.

3. Hair dryer

Every ounce makes a difference and hair dryers can add 1/2 lb to 1 lb in additional weight. Force yourself not to bring it. Most hotels either have dryers affixed to the bathroom wall or in the bathroom drawer or you can ask housekeeping to deliver one to your room.  Or, invest in a smaller travel version.  These are often available at discount stores such as Winners, Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and some are more powerful than what the hotels provide.

4. Irreplaceable items

True, it would be nice to wear it, but the jewelry you inherited from your grandmother would be better left at home. The chance of misplacing it, having it stolen or feeling it slip through your fingers and tumble down the drain (I speak from experience) is not worth the risk. I also tend to leave my wedding band and engagement ring at home. Wearing inexpensive items will also minimize the chance you’ll be targeted by those with poor intentions.

5. Too many clothes (or shoes)

It’s so tempting to pack all the great clothes you don’t get a chance to wear in day-to-day life, but don’t. One tip for minimizing is to stage your clothes in a spare bedroom a few days before leaving. Put outfits or color combinations together and also consider clothes needed for the most likely weather situations. As departure draws near, check the weather at your destination and take away some of the clothes that won’t be needed. Also, re-think what you’ve laid out to decide where you can cut back. Try to ensure that each piece of clothing can be worn with two other pieces of clothing.

This tip also applies to shoes. It’s tempting to take more than what’s needed. Minimize what you pack down to a few multi-functional shoes. One pair each of sneakers and sandals will cover what’s needed for day wear. Then take one pair of nicer evening shoes. If you wear the heaviest pair of shoes onto the plane,  that leaves only two pair for your luggage.

Weighing in

Be sure to check the airline’s site to learn their maximum luggage weights and if you typically stress about the weight of your bags then invest in a luggage scale. It helps keep your bag under the max weight and avoid excess baggage fees. It will pay for itself when you consider that most American airlines charge $75 and up for overweight bags. A lightweight luggage scale costs approx $10 to $20 and will serve you well on multiple trips.

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And finally

Next time you fly, remember to use these five simple tips. They will reduce the stress you may experience on travel day and they can also save you the additional cost of paying for overweight bags. I think you’ll be surprised at how lightweight your luggage can be when you figure out what not to pack.

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