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Full weight of your luggage versus the carryon only

I keep reading about how much people's carryon suitcases weigh or don't weigh. Then there is mention of the personal item ranging from a purse to a backpack to a eurobag type piece. When someone packs, I'd like to know the full weight of both items to help me determine if I'm as in line as I can be with 'competitive packing'. Anyway, this got me thinking and I packed up a trial run so I could perfect my packing list. My carryon target is no more than 20 lbs for my carryon wheelie, and preferable 5 lbs for my personal item. My absolute max is 30lbs for both as I have to carry both, not just my carryon. So full disclosure about my trial run: My RS 20" carryon weighs 21 lbs and my purse weighs 7 lbs. This is not optimal. What's the cause? Extra shoes, which I don't usually bring with me...and a larger 15-85mm lens on my DSLR and my tripod, so I'll have to cut somewhere else.

Anyway, am I the only one who thinks it would be more constructive to know the full weight vs just the carryon suitcase? Some people's personal items are pretty large so just talking about one, doesn't seem to be that valuable to me.

What is your goal weight for each item/both items you will have to carry?

How successful are you at achieving this goal?

Posted by
26477 posts

I've had the same thought, Wray. Everything could fit in my suitcase (probably carry-on size if not for the wheels) and my purse, but I use a nylon tote on planes/trains/buses for food, reading material, etc. Otherwise, the tote isn't needed unless I do a bunch of shopping, which has only happened once in the last 40 years (Bulgarian crafts).

I think the suitcase weighed roughly 26 lb. as I began my 3-month trip last year. Adding about 3 lb. of guidebook pages and other trip info I carried in the tote bag, I guess I have to 'fess up to about 29 lb., of which 4.5 lb. was the suitcase itself. This year I'm distilling the information from huge stacks of travel clippings so that very little paper will go with me beyond guide book segments and some maps. Then I'm pretty stuck, since I've already cut out all the obvious stuff; no extra shoes and just carefully metered quantities of all toiletries. for example.

I'd be thrilled at 22-23 lb., including a three-month supply of vitamins and supplements, but am not optimistic about getting there.

Posted by
2600 posts

Well for my last trip I was only allowed to have the one bag - no personal item. This was tough. I consistently can do my carryon bag at about 17.5 pounds...I much prefer to have 20 pounds but there's a lot of airlines that limit to 17.5 so I've learned to do it. If I can bring a personal item as well it's more like 3 pounds...it's just got an iPad, some medicine and bit of food. For the trip I just took where there was no personal item allowed I brought a tiny personal item (little purse - 5 inches by 4 inches or so) and I put my neck pouch, food and emergency medicine in there. I wore it over one shoulder and had the bag hanging in back and hoped no one would notice it. No one did. I feel like they might have noticed a larger one - this was Egypt air and they had staff wandering through the waiting area looking at people's bags and asking questions about size, weight etc in Frankfurt.

I would be happiest if I could always bring a bag that weighed up to 22 pounds, could be 9 inches deep (a lot of times I'm limited to 7.5 inches and that is tough) and I could bring a personal item...my favorite is a Vera Bradley backpack if that helps you with size.

Posted by
3509 posts

My carry on for a RS tour is it -- nothing else. Last European trip (RS Best of Italy) it was 18.0 lbs. when I left home and, even after adding souvenirs, 16.4 lbs when I returned (had a few old and raggedy clothing items that I disposed of along the way). No wheels on the bag so I maximize my packing weight that way.

I have a day bag inside my cary on that I use once I get started on my tour, but it always gets placed back inside the cary on empty before I head to the airport for a flight.

Posted by
2054 posts

My RS carry on packed weighed 18 lbs. I travel in warmer months so I wear thin skirts and tops. I pack one pair of light weight pants and a light jacket along with a heavy type rain poncho and umbrella. I wear the heavy shoes and pack the lighter ones.

My bag that slips over my suite case holds my purse while getting on the plane and essentials I don't want to check just incase overheads are full.

I travel for at least three weeks at a time.

Posted by
1194 posts

This is highly dependent on my trip!

Last trip was one week in winter - my single bag weighed 7 kg total. Bag weighed 14 oz. Patagonia lightweight travel Tote

5-1/2 week trip to South America - (hiking to Machu Picchu, birding in the Amazon basin, and then a Galapagos cruise) - a single carry on bag weighing 10 kg total. Bag weighed 4 lb. MEI Voyageur. I did dump some contents into my day pack to make the 7 kg carry on limit. But everything fit in a single bag normally.

Regular Europe trip in shoulder season 6.5 in main bag, 1 kg personal item. Bag weighed 1 kg. Again everything fit in one bag if needed. LL Bean Quickload travel pack

Business trips I use the Rick Steves rolling backpack. That's because I have to hand carry several reams of test procedures and notebooks with me. Then the bag is heavy - 25 plus pounds.

All in all I'm unhappy if I violate the 8 kg limit with a single bag. If I bring a personal item it and contents fit in the main bag so I am truly doing one bag travel.

Posted by
8021 posts

I try to live by the 10 kg rule, as some airlines have that as the max. for a piece of carry on luggage.
Found that most 21-22 inch rolling bags are relatively heavy, and I got a very lightweight Travel Pro bag at under 7 lbs. dry.
I no longer check any luggage, as Austrian Airlines left behind my bag in Prague. I spent 2 days in a cheap hotel in Atlanta waiting for my bag (with car keys in it) to catch up to me.

Posted by
14610 posts

Knowing the weight of both your bags combined is smart. Some airlines are now starting to include the personal item in a total weight allowance where in the past only your main bag was of a concern.

KLM is doing this. (Or at least that is on their website.) Others, I guess, will follow if they think they can make money from it.

Posted by
2767 posts

Last time my main bag was under 17lbs. I want to say 15.9 but I can't remember for sure. I was on Alitalia where 17lbs is a strict cut off so I know it was less than that, and not pushing the limit. This is in an ebags weekender backpack. If I fly an airline with a bigger limit I take the same items but use a Rick Steves roller bag, which would add a few pounds.

My personal item is s tote bag with my purse (just wallet, passport, and little things like chapstick), kindle, water bottle, and the kicker...DSLR camera with lens, which is over 2 lbs. So the personal item is maybe 5 pounds.

So to be conservative - 17 + 5 = 22 lbs total. 25 if I use the roller bag.

Posted by
11613 posts

I travel for 90-100 days at a time, the 20" carryon weighs about 16-17 pounds (including an empty messenger bag that I use every day during the trip), and a daybag (personal item) that weighs about ten pounds. When I repack the messenger bag for daily use, it weighs about 5 pounds.

Posted by
208 posts

I don't have any weights to provide you with at the moment. I travel with the RS rolling carry-on plus the Euro Flight Bag (older version) as my "personal item".

I also carry a very small purse, which doubles as a waist pack. This either goes unnoticed by the airport personnel, or I will stuff it into my flight bag so I only have the two items.

I often put most of my electronics/chargers/ sometimes a pair of shoes (heavy) into my flight bag to get some of the weight OUT of my rolling bag, which is the one they weigh. Since, when I am rolling it, I piggy back the the flight bag on top of the roller, it doesn't matter to me if the shoulder bag is on the heavy side. Since it doesn't have wheels, it is already significantly lighter than the rolling bag. In my flight bag (under seat), i put the stuff I won't be using during the flight at the bottom and the stuff I want accessible on top. If carrying food on board, I sometimes carry that separately, as it doesn't count.

Now, that's only how I travel while flying. Once the flight is done, I'll sometimes distribute my items as I want them, and will even expand my rolling bag so I can put everything in my rolling bag (except my small purse).

During my outings, I wear my small purse (never removing it), and carry a small napsack (Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack), which when traveling, packs tiny, into itself.

Having said all that, I find that I've only been weighed when I've had to check in at a counter (that's where the scales are). If I check in online, in advance (or even at a kiosk in the airport), I can go straight to Security... from there, they only look at the size, not the weight (assuming you don't look like you're lugging a ton!).

Cheers,
Vivian

Posted by
1194 posts

@Vivian - how are you able to check in online and go straight to security for your flights? Most airlines requires you to do a passport check, which means going to the desk.
I found that airlines with strict weight limits issue "hand luggage approved" tags, which mean you only get it after you weigh it.

Posted by
1095 posts

Cindy H - in ATL, Delta did our passport check at the gate. We checked in online with only carryons. Security does not care where you're going as long as you have a boarding pass.

Posted by
3171 posts

@Cindy H. I do the same as well. Just go thru security and when your gate staffs up, just show them your passport. It's so much quicker waiting to show your passport at the gate.

Posted by
208 posts

Hi @Cindy, as the others already mentioned -- my passport seems to get checked by individuals at the beginning of the security lines. Also at boarding. I've not seen any other requirements, except maybe once when, for some reason, I couldn't do on-line check-in (the system didn't allow me, I never knew why), and I was forced to line up at the check-in.

I've only received a "carry-on approved" sticker once -- that was at British Airways (funny, since their limits are one of the most generous). I don't always (usually on the return home) have an opportunity to do the on-line check-in.

Also, BTW, I've never flown with a discount airline. We favour airlines with ample carry-on limits.

Posted by
3171 posts

I think Zoe and I are similar in packing/goals regarding weight. I usually check my carryon bag, but as I'm on a tour and have an overnight at Heathrow I want to hold on to it. The weight is not about what the airline says, but about what I want to carry up stairs, not what I can carry upstairs. On the RS tour I'll probably find I'm dealing with my bags less than usual as the bus will be relatively direct to the hotel, but the directions on site make me paranoid. My purse weight is due to my DSLR and larger/heavier lens than I've been taking, tripod, batter, etc. That's not going to change as, for me, to travel and not spend free time taking photographs would be a waste of a trip. I don't shop. For my suitcase, things I don't usually carry are a backpack, which I apparently need on some of the upward walks and the extra pair of shoes. I have packed 3 tee shirts...I could remove one, I could remove one of two(wearing) quilted vests (I wear instead of sweaters/polartec). I'm not willing to give up my black NYDJeans...the heaviest (18 oz), but they are what I wear 95% of the time so they are not coming out. By switching yoga paints and tee shirt top (pj's) I've only lessened the weight by 4 oz, which is hardly worth it (yes, I did a Sarah Murdoch last night). I might leave/switch one scarf, as it is heavier than others, and remove 2 pairs of socks, leaving 4--but I hate to do this because I love really fresh socks. I know 5 lbs is the suitcase, but I'd rather carry heavier for a minute here and there than schlep my luggage the whole time. So...it will be an ongoing process to get this down to 20 lbs. as my purse has not room to reduce during transit. Once there, I have items I will move to the suitcase. Yes, I am a packing addict. :)

Acraven, I also usually use a light shopping bag...but with the darn backpack I'm taking it is changing my system for this trip.

Posted by
3171 posts

I know I'm kind of talking to myself here, but I just returned to my suitcase...I forgot about the Euro coins I decided to get rid of in Greece...for the bathrooms and I'm sick of them accumulating, trip after trip. I might have many best friends on the tour until the coins are all used up...LOL. Anyway, the Euro coins weighed 20+ oz. and a few British pound coins weighed 3 1/2 oz. I also switched out some scarves for lighter ones. AND I thought of Rick's 'don't bring it because you will use it, ask yourself if you will use it enough to justify bringing it'...not perfectly quoted. So out went the back pack for one or two hikes, which weighed more than I could weigh on the food scale, I estimate over 2 lbs. I dislike backpacks and wouldn't use it any other time. In went a 4 oz Ikea duffle for the bus. While my purse will still weigh about 7 lbs until I get to my hotel in Athens, my suitcase, with the extra vest added back in, weighs 19 lbs. So once I spend my coins, my suitcase will be a breeze! Thanks for listening...I'm sure I'll have more to say. This is what one does on a day of being snowed in! Wray

Posted by
26477 posts

I go back and forth on backpacks, too. Hate the weight and bulk for the modest amount of use they get. But I'm a lot more stable across unsteady ground in the country if I don't have a purse hanging on one side of my body, so I think I'm going to bite the bullet and buy one of the super-lightweight packable backpacks recently mentioned on this forum. A sprained ankle is no fun.

Coins are the one souvenir I always return with, and they can add up to a lot of weight as a trip progresses. I think I have most of euro coins I'm likely to encounter in France this year, but all the British coins will be new so I'll be bring back one of each, plus some additional coins for young relatives. So as the trip progresses, I use up a lot of vitamins but acquire coins.

The only weight that matters is what you can personally carry. I've carried a backpack that weighed only 13.5 lb.s. For Northern Christmas travel, I take a larger suitcase with bulky Winter items. Back in the "good ol' days" before packing restrictions - I lugged a footlocker with scuba gear around a couple of times in addition to a suitcase. So, packing is personal. Despite the pride the hardy travelers of this site take in minimal packing, it's not a competition. We just have fun with all this.

Posted by
1077 posts

A trick to get around the weight limit is that I pack my backpack then instead of a "personal" item that might have to be weighed I wear a Scottevest Tropoformer jacket that has 21+ pockets on the inside but look like a regular jacket on the outside, I fill the pockets with the items that I wish to use on the plane or in the airports during layovers (noise canceling earbuds, iPad, iPhone, chargers, nikon point and shoot, etc.) When I get to my destination I unload the jacket and use it as my rain jacket/cool weather jacket or I can remove the sleeves for a vest with multiple pockets for what ever I need for that day's adventure. I never liked the vests that look like fishing vests with all the pockets on the outside but this looks like a regular piece of clothing anyone would wear.

Posted by
3171 posts

Donald, I'm not trying to get around a weight limit for flights. I'm generally fine checking my carryon. My weight issue is full weight. Think: carry up 4 flights of stairs, trains, buses, etc. That's why I've been wondering about the personal item, and in your case the vest. Whether you are wearing a vest or have an extra personal item, they have to be carried at the same time as the carryon. So, packing light, I think, should include discussion of all items, not just the carryons. If I need extra items on the plane, I pull a bag out of my carryon. And my carryon is packed so that my purse could fit in the suitcase as well, although I'm not comfortable doing that. I like my purse attached to me. I can live without my suitcase, but my purse has my meds and money in it during transport. Although, Donald, I love hearing everyone's systems, so I see how yours would be good for the small inter-Europe flights.

Posted by
26477 posts

I've never used a travel vest and probably never will, but I see another advantage: weight carried close to your body like that is easier to manage than a heavy suitcase dangling from an arm--at least it is for me. I'm short enough that when I climb stairs, I have to bend the elbow of the arm carrying the suitcase, which can be quite a strain.

Posted by
61 posts

In 2014 on a RS tour in Italy, I used the RS rolling backpack with the Veloce shoulder bag. In 2015 on the Prague/Budapest tour, I took the Veloce bag and a zipped tote and something I grew to love: a black ExOfficio FlyQ trench with 11 interior pockets. I fit a scarf in the small of the back pocket, which provided extra lumbar support. On the second trip, I know my bags were under 15-16 lbs, while my coat was heavy with the large bag of almonds that diminished in weight on the trip. Next trip will use the zipped tote and a shoulder bag only (or maybe a folded bag for day trips) since I know the secret powers of the coat. I am a one pair of shoes person: dark New Balance heavily sprayed with water proofing material. Since becoming AARP eligible, comfortable shoes are a must (sorry Dansko boots and Sketcher memory foam slip ons, you don't make the cut! My feet hurt throughout Italy).

Posted by
3171 posts

It's all food for thought.

Fluffy, That's a nice looking coat.

Posted by
61 posts

Thanks. I just bought the Flyq lite vest with a similar internal pocket configuration for warmer days!

Posted by
5835 posts

Just mostly finished packing.

My carry-on (RS Classic Backpack): 18#
Ski box (2 pr of skis + poles for me, 1 pr of skis + poles for spouse) in hard shell wheelie box: 24#
Wheeled duffel bag with ski waxes, tools & iron plus some spare clothing, ski boots: 34#
Didn't weigh spouses carry-on but its lighter than mine: < 18#
Total for two travelers: < 104#

With two travelers and two checked bags, no extra luggage fees and weight to spare for bringing back souvenir purchases in the rolling duffel bag.

With my carry-on being a backpack, I have two hands to pull/handles the rolling ski box and rolling duffel. An under 20# back pack carry-on is easy to manage and with checked luggage having wheels easy to pull even over cobbles.

Only usual lifting is loading onto rail cars. The usual hotels we frequent have lifts and transportation terminals most have escalators. If needed, I can hand carry skis and duffel a flight or two if the stairway is wide enough.

Posted by
3171 posts

@Edgar, Our ski boots always went in the underseat bag...I could live with out my skis, but not my boots. The one thing I don't miss about no longer skiing is lugging my skis around! I think all in all you've got a good plan working here. The best ski trip for me was when our skis didn't make the connection so they were delivered right to our hotel room that night...so no ski days missed! Have a great trip!

Posted by
1625 posts

Wow..no input..I just want to say you all are hard core!! LOL
I just pack and go. My goal weight is just to adhere to the airlines rules. I have a spreadsheet just so I wont forget anything important and to make sure my mix and match, mixes and matches...my husband works in shipping and receiving so he picks up my case and tells me how much it weights and I am usually just at the carry on limit. My personal item is a large bag which has my "real" purse inside, which comes out of the bag and onto my body when we land.

Posted by
11613 posts

Letitia, I do the same thing with my personal item, there's a messenger bag inside for the flight, as soon as we land the personal item gets strapped to the carryon and the messenger bag comes out. The messenger bag is pre-packed (including leftover euro from the last trip) and ready to go.