You’re about to catch that flight home or departing for vacation, but the airport personnel flag down your checked luggage for exceeding the weight limit.
Now you have to pay an extra $50 to $450 per extra pound – way out of your budget – all because you didn’t have a scale at home.
So, here are several methods to determine luggage weight even if you don’t have a luggage scale:
- Use a regular bathroom scale.
- Estimate luggage weight with known weights.
- Use a makeshift lever and fulcrum.
- Weigh your luggage somewhere local.
Thus, below, I’ll take you through a tried and proven step-by-step process to estimate luggage weight at home without a measuring scale.
4 Tips on How to Weigh Luggage Without a Scale
1. Use a Bathroom Scale
Let’s admit that we need a measuring scale for accurate results. So, before you pack that overweight suitcase in your trunk, look around for any type of measuring scale that can help you figure out how much your luggage weighs.
Whether you’re in a house or a hotel room, you can usually find the scales in the bathroom. The same device you use to determine weight loss or weight gain can also save you in your hour of need.
A typical bathroom scale in your local department store can bear anything between 300 and 400 lbs (136.08 and 181.44 kg), the weight of several suitcases.
The only problem with this method is that the weighing section on a bathroom scale is for two human feet and not luggage. A bag blocks the reading window.
To remedy this, you have to collectively measure your weight and the suitcases. Follow these steps to do that:
- Stand on the scale holding nothing.
- Write down your weight.
- Pick up your luggage and stand on the scale with it.
- Write down the collective weight.
- Subtract your original weight from the collective weight.
Whatever you get after subtracting your weight should be the weight of your luggage. However, know that if you pass 50 lbs (22.68 kg), you bags are probably over the airline’s weight limits.
Thus, if you do have more weight then you should, you may need to move some items to a different bag or pay a small fee.
Or, if you don’t have a scale, borrow from neighbors and friends. If that doesn’t help, you can also roughly estimate 50 lbs from everyday home items and people.
2. Estimate With Known Weights
We don’t typically walk around with a measuring tape or weighing scales, but we can tell distance and weight up to specific readings. Thus, weighing luggage without a scale can be easy since you can get rough weight estimates just from your bag’s feel.
So, lift that suitcase with one hand, and if you can balance your shoulders without effort, the weight is probably around 20 lbs (9.07 kg). If you lean your shoulders on one side, it might be 50 lbs (22.68 kg) plus.
Interestingly enough you can also use your child for weight measurement. Did you know that a 7-year-old boy of average height and health weighs 50 lbs?
So, if you know your child’s approximate weight, you can use this simple trick to help determine if your luggage surpasses the allowed weight.
Just pick up your child and record in your mind how heavy they feel. Put them down and immediately pick up the suitcase and remember how that weight feels.
From here, you should be able to get an estimate of how much your luggage weighs.
Apart from a child, you can use other items that weigh around 50 lbs (22.68 kg)—for example, a huge sack of ordinary dog food.
If that’s not available, you probably have a 50-inch (127 cm) television somewhere on your walls, which also weighs about 50 pounds.
Then, all you have to do is estimate the weight from how different the two items feel to pick up. If your bags feel heavier than these 50 pounds items, they probably won’t pass the airline’s weight restrictions.
3. Use a Makeshift Lever and Fulcrum
If you can’t get a good feel from just picking items up, you can always use a homemade lever and fulcrum as a luggage scale.
In this method to find out how much your bag weighs without a scale, you need to gather some objects in your home whose weight you know. Unopened spice jars and dry food packages, for instance, have specific kilograms or pounds printed on them.
Other helpful items include hand weights and barbells. Water containers can also be useful because around 6 gallons (22.71 L) of water weighs approximately 50 lbs.
You can also use anything else with a known weight.
Next, make a lever-pivot fulcrum. In simple terms, create something that resembles a seesaw.
The pivot should comprise a firm object like a round bottle or wooden plank that can bear the weight of the luggage and the collected household items.
Next, find items that’ll act like measuring tins. You can use aluminum pie tins or cloth bags as long as they’re of negligible masses.
Secure them properly on either end of a plank of wood placed on top of the fulcrum. The fulcrum should sit precisely at the center of the top bar.
If you can’t make a fulcrum, you can also use a raised surface like a water pipe or a horizontally placed water bottle to determine the weight of your luggage.
Now, it’s time to balance our makeshift fulcrum, but remember that you may need help.
So, now, place your suitcase on one side of the fulcrum. Move to the other side and start placing the weights, water containers, and other packages one by one until the lever tilts.
Your friend should help hold the lever in place right at the center to keep the two distances equal.
Adding smaller weights at a time will give more accurate results. Keep adding or removing the items until both sides of your pivot are hovering some distance over the ground.
If the plank balances evenly, you’ve achieved equilibrium, and you’ll know your trunk weighs as much as the added objects.
4. Weigh Your Baggage Somewhere Local
Local hardware stores, health clubs, post offices, and junkyards have weighing machines that their customers can often use for free. They also will give you your luggage’s actual weight.
However, if you aren’t a regular, you may need to pay or talk to someone in the store or office before you can use their weights as a luggage scale.
If you are a health conscious member of your local gym, you can ask staff if you can weigh your luggage on one of their scales. However, these small scales probably work better as handheld luggage scales if you want an accurate reading.
Weighing your luggage at a hardware store may be more difficult than the other places on this list, but it’s always worth a shot to ask if you can weigh your luggage there.
Some may even have scales outside, but this habit was more popular decades ago than today.
Junkyards rely on accurate scales to sell metal waste and other scraps, so you can count on their scales to weigh your luggage accurately. They are also usually huge, so you can weigh several bags at once.
Just drive up there and ask the owner if you can use their machine as a luggage scale.
Post Office or Courier
Post offices need weights so that they can accurately measure packages. Thus, if you’re in a pinch, you can always ask your nearest post office if you can use their scales.
Just note that smaller offices have smaller weights, so you should visit average-sized to big courier stations to easily weigh your luggage.
If this option is your last resort or you have a good relationship with your doctor, you can ask to use their weights as luggage scales to measure your luggage’s weight.
Travel agents work to ensure you have a successful and safe trip, which involves even checking the weight of your luggage.
So, visit your local travel agent and request help since they keep a luggage scale or two stashed somewhere around the building. Better still, call them ahead of the visit and request that they arrange for a luggage scale to be available on arrival.
Plus, these scales are easy to use. All you need to do is hang your carry-on bag or other luggage by the suitcase handle to get an accurate measurement.
Most hotels have luggage scales you can use.
What is the Weight Limit for Luggage?
For the most part, the weight limit for checked luggage is 50 pounds, and this standard runs the gambit from Alaska Airlines to Air Canada. Thus, if you’ve got a measurement and found that your luggage weighed more than this amount, you may need to unpack some items, so you don’t go over airline weight limits.
But, what an airline considers an overweight bag at check-in is not the same everywhere. For example, at Spirit, the limit for checked luggage is 40 pounds.
Similarly, carry-on luggage usually can not surpass a 35-pound weight limit. Any carry-on luggage over this amount and the TSA will consider it overweight luggage.
Other Luggage Considerations
The weight of your luggage isn’t the only factor you should take into account because weight limits are just the tip of the iceberg.
For starters, most airlines have a luggage limit. So, for most of them, you can only have one carry-on bag, a checked bag, and a personal item.
And, remember that the airlines charge for each extra bag.
You also need to pay attention to carry-on bag size limits. Different airlines have their own dimensions, but you can easily look up the measurements for various airlines online.
A weighing scale is essential for every regulated travel like air travel. Thus, you should always keep a simple weighing scale around your home or in your suitcase for use when the need arises.
But, if you don’t have any at hand, you can use bathroom scales, estimate using household items, or visit the local health club, hardware store, post office, doctor’s office, or travel agency.
Table of Contents
- 4 Tips on How to Weigh Luggage Without a Scale
- What is the Weight Limit for Luggage?
- Other Luggage Considerations
- Final Thoughts