We’ve all been there. Frantically moving stuff between bags at the airport to meet their weight limits. Learn how to weigh luggage without a scale.
There are many places you can check your luggage before checking in for your flight. And you might even have something at home that will do the trick. And with some practice, you’ll be able to estimate weight by how it feels when lifted.
6 Places to Weigh Your Luggage
I prefer to know the weight of my bags before arriving at the airport. Sometimes the overweight fee is unusually high. And if it’s too heavy, it might not even make it on a small commuter plane.
Here are 6 places to weigh your luggage.
- Hotels: Many airport hotels have weigh scales available. If you don’t see one in the lobby, ask at the counter. It might be behind the desk.
- Post Office: Some post offices have a scale in the retail area. Others are at the counter. Depending on the part of the world you’re visiting, you might need to ask for a favor. Or you might be able to walk in and weigh it right there.
- Supermarkets and Malls: Some grocery stores (like Publix) have weigh scales out front. Others might have one inside. These are made for customers to be able to check their weight.
- Pharmacy: Similar to supermarkets, you might find a scale for customers to weigh themselves. If no sign is noted to the contrary, you can check your bag weight on this scale.
- Other Options: Gyms, gas stations, pet stores, and public places may all have scales available. You may need to call or message first. Or if you’re passing by in the city, just stick your head in and ask.
- At the Airport: While you can always weigh your luggage at the counter, this can be a little stressful, especially if there is a lineup behind you. When you first enter Departures, check for a scale before you get to the counter. It might be free, or available for a small fee.
If you found a place to weigh your bag before arriving at the airport, you can take some pleasure in seeing your bag come in at the right weight when you’re checking in at the counter.
Luggage Weighing Guide
How can I weigh my luggage without a scale?
If you do not have a luggage scale, you can use an ordinary bathroom scale. You should first get on the scale and weigh yourself.
Once you write down that weight, pack your bag with everything you need and get back on the scale. You can then subtract the first weight from the second weight to get the exact weight of your luggage.
While this method can work it can be difficult to get an accurate reading because of the wobble that comes with standing on the scale while holding your luggage. A scale designed for weighing luggage makes everything a little easier.
Estimating Luggage Weight Without a Scale
Estimating weight can be challenging. Especially when the sizes of the items are dramatically different.
But to begin estimating luggage weight, it’s important to begin with an item with a known weight. Something like gym weights or a box of cat litter.
Another way to estimate the weight is to get comfortable with how much you can lift without straining. Once you have a baseline, you can begin to estimate if your bag is over or under that weight. While this sounds difficult, it’s actually pretty easy. With all our travel over the past 15 years, I’ve become pretty accurate with estimating the weight of our bags. Here are a few more ideas.
Can you weigh luggage on a regular scale?
Though you can weigh luggage on a regular scale, you should use the steps outlined above.
Most home scales require a certain amount of weight to work, which is usually more than your luggage weighs.
The method we described above can help you find out how much your luggage weighs right now.
How to weigh luggage with a bathroom scale
Which luggage scale is best?
We can’t tell you which luggage scale is the best because it can depend on factors such as how often you travel and where you travel or which airlines you use and what you carry in your bag.
What is the best way to weigh luggage?
The best way to weigh luggage is with a dedicated luggage scale. You can check the current weight of your bag and keep an eye on that bag as you add and remove items.
This can help you stay under the airline’s limit, even if you remember a few things you forgot on your way out the door.
Are home luggage scales accurate?
Yes, most home luggage scales are extremely accurate and can tell you the weight of a bag down to 0.1 pounds. If you’re tired of arriving at the airport and finding that you’re over the airline’s limit or close to the limit, you’ll want to use one of these scales.
How much do airlines charge for heavy luggage?
You can expect to pay from $50 to $100+ for an overweight piece of luggage.
When you use one of these scales, you might wonder about just how much you can save at the airport. The maximum limit that most airlines have is around 50 pounds for the bags you can bring onto the plane.
You’ll face other fees for transporting heavier bags in the cargo hold too. These costs can vary between airlines but will generally cost at least $100 per flight. Some airlines charge even higher rates too.
Two Great Luggage Scales
If you want to avoid hunting for a public scale, you can pick up a basic luggage scale and put it in your carry-on bag.
- Digital Luggage Scale (Etekcity): This scale has a precise weight sensor and is super lightweight. The weight capacity of 110 lbs is more than double the allowed weight by most airlines. And it’s accurate to 0.1 lbs (50g). Check current price
- Manual Luggage Scale (Travelon Stop & Lock): This manual luggage scale has a built-in tape measure to check your luggage dimensions for airline requirements. This is a functional and durable choice. Just weigh and slip into your bag for your return trip. Check current price
Weighting Luggage for International Travel
The portable scales are surprisingly inexpensive – they range from under $10 to over $40. While this might sound significant, just keep in mind that most overweight fees start at $50 (we’ve paid USD$120 for a single overweight bag). You could save the price of the scale on your first trip!
And when you arrive at the airport with the correct weight bags, it’ll be less stressful and a quicker check-in.
When we moved to Ecuador back in 2009, I didn’t even know luggage scales existed. It would have helped as we slogged our six checked bags (and over 75 lbs of books). Here’s what we would have done differently in our move.
Weighing Luggage Factors
Anyone who travels internationally knows the importance of correctly weighing luggage. Most airlines today allow you to bring at least one bag with you on the plane but will charge for any luggage that you check in with you.
You may face some high fees if the items in your bag go over the weight limit too, which will vary from airline to airline. Not only do you need to worry about what you bring with you, but you also need to consider what you’ll pick up and want to bring back from those foreign destinations. That is why you should know how to buy the best luggage scales for international travel.
Here’s what you need to know about weighing luggage.
1. Weight Capacity
Every airline limits your luggage weight. If you’re over, they often have significant fees. We’ve paid from $50 to $120 for overweight bags.
When choosing your luggage scale, make sure that it has a weight capacity over the maximum airline weight. For example, most airlines allow up to 50lbs for checked luggage (some are less – some first class flights allow up to 70 lbs per bag).
2. Choosing a Luggage Scale
Most of the international luggage scales we found will fall into one of three categories.
- The first of those is a manual scale, which has a gauge at the top that shows different weights. You can attach your bag to the hook on the bottom of the scale and lift up on the top. This will weigh your bag and show you the weight on the gauge.
- Though most of the other scales use the same design, electronic models run on batteries and have screens that show you the weight. These digital scales are usually more accurate – or at least easier to get an accurate reading.
- The final type of luggage scale is the floor model scale. This is usually digital and not super portable. So while it will likely be the most accurate scale, it will probably only work for your home base.
3. Scale Accuracy
There is no point in buying a scale unless it’s accurate. You want to look for those that are accurate down to a fraction of an ounce too because this will help you avoid the high fees and penalties that some airlines charge for heavy bags.
If the scale isn’t accurate, you might face some high fees when you check-in before your flight.
As you look over our list of the best luggage scales for international travel, you can find one perfect for all the adventures you want to have.
A good luggage scale will pay for itself the first time you avoid paying for an overweight bag.
Have a tip or question? Join me in the comments below!
- About the Author
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Hi, I’m Dena Haines. And I’m co-founder of Storyteller Travel. I love to cover food, animals, and destinations around the world.
I also blog about photography at Storyteller Tech.