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22 vs 40 lb carry on weight limit -- what can you fit?

We're looking at some open jaw flights and Aer Lingus is significantly cheaper than US Air or Delta. But we're committed to only bringing carry ons and not checking luggage, and I just saw that Aer Lingus has a weight restriction of 22 lbs, versus 40 lbs for the American based airlines. Size is not an issue -- our suitcases definitely meet the size restrictions. I've never had to worry about weight before, because 40 lbs is pretty generous. We are traveling in the summer, but will be gone for 3+ weeks in various climates, and with sundries, adaptors, etc. we won't be packing super super light. What can you fit into a suitcase with a 22 lb limit? Is it possible to pack for this kind of a trip with that limit? I'm trying to decide if the luggage weight limit should be a deciding factor because I do not want to check bags. Thanks!!

Posted by
6554 posts

I have no idea what you can pack into 10 kg. Suitcases are not created equal, and some are very heavy even empty.

Why don't you just do a dress rehearsal and pack your suitcase like you assume you'll carry?

And you are smart to do the carry on bag. It's the only way to go.

Posted by
2081 posts

Ruth,

When i flew Aer Lingus they were serious on the weight limit and they didnt allow passengers to move around into empty seats either.

When it comes to packing, its up to you how much you want to pack around. How many jackets/coats can you wear at one time? how many do you need?

I try to pack for a minimum and go from there. If you havent traveled before, now is the time to try you packing before you leave and work on your packing every week or so until you get down to a minimum you feel like you want to carry. doing laundry can cut down on your clothes you bring. Even if you have to do the wash in the sink, it may get you by.

for your bulky stuff like a jacket, wear it. same for your shoes. Wear the most bulky ones and if you choose to bring a 2nd pair put that in your luggage. you can also stuff other small things in your shoes too! a wool jacket/coat is nice in the winter but its BULKY. i treated myself to a new Marmott water proof jacket w/hood. Its not wool but its synthetic and medium weight so it will keep me warm and its squashes/packs down too.

if you jacket/coat is also water proof, it saves you brining a rain jacket. If you learn to layer, it can help too. you dont say where youre going but so far on my trips, i havent come across any snow or anyplace i need a really heavy jacket/coat. also, chances are you will be inside most of the times so exposure would be minimal.

i just got my Global Entry card so im will be using it. Also, as far as liquids, i dont bring them with me anymore now. I will buy what i need when i arrive. Its just less BS to deal with at the TSA. when it comes to water, i fill up my bottle after the TSA.

happy trails

Posted by
15840 posts

Since most airlines define a max size carry-on as 55x40x23 cm (22x15x9 inch), I think it would be difficult to put much more than 22 lb in a bag that size. Chain mail underwear? I notice that Swiss is 8 kg (18b) for a bag that size. I have to work to put 40 lb in the large checked type bag 29x18x14 inch when I'm traveling heavy.

Posted by
17899 posts

I have no problem with packing a bag that weighs less than 12# full. I usually go for 2 weeks, but I only take enough for 3-4 days, then have to wash, so three weeks would not be different than two. Pack only what you would normally use, not what you might, in the worse case, want. Hint: Europeans don't fly to the US every two weeks to buy necessities.

Find a nice, light convertible pack. My Essential Carryon weighs less than 2# empty. That would give me 20# if I wanted it, but I have found out I can get by with 10# of stuff. When I returned from Europe last October I weighed what I brought home, and it was only 11½#, and I didn't leave anything over there. (And I had my old RS convertible. I let my SO use my EC bag.) If you pick a six pound roll-aboard, you will limit yourself to 16# of contents.

Posted by
11450 posts

I cannot imagine travelling with anything near a forty lb bag.. thats too much weight for me to lug around. I travel for weeks on end.. at least three usually and often more.

You don't need to pack three weeks worth of clothes. You simply pack 6 =7 days worth and do laundry. I wear a windbreaker with a lightweight fleece on the plane and thats what I use for all weather.. including when we hiked in Alps in summer time. I choose a windbreaker that has a less outdoorsy cut so I can wear it in city and not look like I am too casual.

I don't take any electronics other then point a shoot camera so not sure how much that would add up to extra weightwise for most folks so can.t comment on that.

Posted by
9110 posts

Forty pounds is five gallons of latex paint or a small bag of Sakcrete. Holy cow!

Posted by
2768 posts

Ruth didn't say she packs 40 pounds into her suitcase, she said she has no trouble staying under that limit. Mprobablybwell under, for all she knows.

Her question is,what does 22# look like in a suitcase? How much stuff can she take within that limit? Does she need to buy a lighter carry-on bag?

I doubt any woman could pack as light as Lee does.

Ruth, I have never weighed my packed bag either, but as I am small and not particularly strong in upper body, I doubt it weighs over 25#. So I could get it under 22 if I had to. I take lightweight, pack able clothes and wear my heaviest and bulkiest things on the plane ( including shoes).

This is where the argument against jeans comes in,,because they are both bulky and heavy. However, I have a pair of NYDJ from Nordstrom, style "Marilyn" that are light and pack small.

Posted by
3493 posts

What Ed said.

Are you allowed 2 carry-ons, one being a "suitcase" and one being a purse or messenger bag or tote of some kind? Is the weight limit for each or both together? This could make a difference.

I travel for a month using a 22" spinner and a messenger style shoulder bag. My husband uses a Rick Steves convertible carry-on and a messenger bag. My Lipault French-made spinner meets the carry-on size limits perfectly but at 6 pounds, it is heavy. I love it and gladly do without extra clothes to keep the weight down. My husband's backpack is lighter at 3 pounds, so he can pack more and still keep the weight down on his back.

We both pack for one week plus a day, the day being the heavier stuff we wear on the flight. We wash clothes about once a week, more often if we are renting an apartment with a washer. When I do my test packing, I weigh the bag, and if it is over 20 pounds, I get rid of the extra weight somehow. I don't like pulling or carrying over 20 pounds. So like someone else said, I'm actually packing 16 pounds of clothes. I'm most often cutting back from about 22 pounds to that 20, so I don't know how I could put 40 pounds of anything except maybe books in the typical 22" carry-on.

I should also mention here that we are XXL size people, so our clothes are big and we can't take many of them. We coordinate what we take so that we can combine just about anything with anything else. We have been able to do this for years, even in cold, rainy and windy Holland and Belgium last April.

We take the typical sundries, electronics and adapters, but those go in our shoulder bags. What takes up space but not much weight for us is the month supply of meds each of us has to bring.

You can do this, just like the huge number of people who do it every trip they take. Look at some of the packing advice on this website and check out the Vivienne Files (http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/?view=classic) for great examples of wardrobe coordination. Just put packing in the search box to find postings specifically on that. I've realized over time that I take even less than is found on a typical packing list or on the VF examples and I get along just fine.

Posted by
17899 posts

"I doubt any woman could pack as light as Lee does."

My girlfriend went with me on a three week tour of southern Germany last Sept/Oct. I didn't weigh her bag when we got back as she unpacked immediately, but at times I carried both backpacks (by the handles, one in each hand) and I am sure her bag weighed less than mine. She did a great job of mixing and matching so it never seemed like she wore the same outfit twice. Of course, she doesn't wear a lot of makeup. (My daughter, who does, would probably have to pack in a U-haul.)

Posted by
6117 posts

Love this!

emphasized text"Hint: Europeans don't fly to the US every two weeks to buy necessities."

Posted by
3493 posts

Me, too, Kim. My 3-1-1 bag isn't even full either direction. If we don't use up all the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, funk begone (for the bathroom), or whatever we buy when we arrive by the end of our trip, we just leave it behind. That's often the sad part for me because I prefer some of these kinds of things that we buy over there to what we can get here.

Posted by
468 posts

Thanks, everyone -- really helpful information and suggestions! I will try packing my bag with what I think I'll be taking and see what it weighs. We traveled with only carry ons our last trip and loved it...I had already planned to wear my heavy pair of shoes and fleece on the plane, and my rain jacket folds into a pouch I can put in my daypack. I'm not taking jeans, just light weight EMS travel pants (which will hopefully be warm enough in the Alps in summer). I'll try adding in all the adaptors, binoculars, etc. I can think of and weigh my case. Probably the biggest concern is that the case itself isn't super lightweight...I'm guessing it's 7-8 lbs. So it will be interesting to see if everything comes in under 22 lbs. However, I definitely want to find out if the 22 lb limit is for the carry on or for all carry ons -- I hadn't even considered that (!!), and will have books, e-reader, toiletries, etc. in my RS daypack, and if that is part of my 22 lb limit, it will make a big difference!

The difference in price between Aer Lingus and the other airlines is more than $500/ticket (and there are 3 of us). The only other issue is whether we want to drive 5 hours each way to NYC to catch the Aer Lingus flight. Even after factoring in gas, long term parking, and one night at an airport hotel, I think we'd save at least $1000. On the other hand, we live 10 minutes from our local small town airport...and there is the convenience factor of being able to go straight home once we get back to the US. And since we will all need to go back to work shortly after our return, time is a factor as well.

Posted by
3580 posts

I take a wheeled bag and keep the weight under 20#. That's the most weight I can handle. In addition I carry a small backpack for under the seat which may weigh as much as 5#. Careful planning makes it possible to travel lightly.

Posted by
4518 posts

You are allowed in addition 'one small personal item' to go under the seat in front of you, dimensions 25cm H (10”) x 33cm W (13”) x 20cm D(8”). There's is no weight specified for this.

Posted by
17899 posts

"Ruth didn't say she packs 40 pounds into her suitcase"

No, but I'm sure there are people who do. I admit someone who packs 40# will need wheels (or a lobotomy).

Two gallons of milk weighs about 17# (less than a # under the Lufthansa limit). If you went to the store just to buy 2 gal of milk, would you need a cart to get it to your car?

If I remember, Aer Lingus used to have a 5 kg (11#) or 6 kg (13.2#) carryon limit.

Posted by
468 posts

Hi everyone -- I just did a test pack, using the packing list from my previous trip to Europe a few years ago. My upcoming trip won't be exactly the same (I'll have more different climates this time around)but I tried to err on the heavy side, including my RS book, a bunch of adaptors, umbrella, etc. in addition to exactly the number and types of clothes I packed last time. According to our luggage scale, the suitcase weighs in at exactly 22 lbs (10 kg). I also weighed the suitcase without anything in it, and it is slightly more than 7 pounds. (I know that's on the heavy side for a carry on, but I have some back issues and really like a rolling bag.) We have two identical suitcases, but need to purchase the third, so we can go for a super light one to give us a few extra pound allowance in the third bag. If we decide to go with Aer Lingus, I feel confident I could shed a few things to ensure I'm under the limit. So basically I know that I can do this if I choose to. Thanks!!

Posted by
5744 posts

Ruth, put some of the heavier things in your jacket pocket or whatever outerwear you are taking on the plane.

Posted by
8069 posts

Also, when you are traveling, don't get seduced by brochures/books/maps. I wound coming home with 4# more than I started with in Sept and realized it was paper stuff I picked up along the way. I won't make that mistake again.

I am glad your test pack worked out well. When you shop for the 3rd bag, you might check out TJ Maxx if you have one in your area. The sometimes have some nice lightweight rollers. Take your luggage scale with you since they almost never have the weight on the tags.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Ruth

I know youre from NY and umbrellas are requirements and part of your fashion statement, but look at ditching it and finding a jacket/coat with a hood. Its something you dont have to worry about carrying and loosing.

ive been evaluating and buying some "travel" clothes. They are usually synthetic but are less bulky and dry faster than jeans which i like. I still, so far, take 1 pr of jeans with me, but that may change.

happy trails.

Posted by
8069 posts

Actually, I travel with a Marmot waterproof jacket with hood and an umbrella. They fit in the side pocket of my purse and I use them together. I vote for traveling with both jacket and umbrella(light, folding one).