If you’ve been looking forward to long-awaited summer travel, one aspect you might be dreading is getting hit with a last-minute baggage fee at the airport. You’re already made to pay extra for WiFi, seat selection, and sometimes even headphones—and when it comes to your baggage, it’s safe to assume that all airlines will try to tack on extra costs however they can.
Sure, you can optimize your suitcase strategy with all the best tips for packing that the internet can provide. (Did you make a packing list after your last trip?) But once you lug that suitcase to the airport, all that matters is the number on the scale.
Baggage fees vary depending on which airline you fly, and you can easily find your specific flight’s policies online. In general, let’s assume that your carry-on bag needs to very clearly fit in the overhead bin (around 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches). If your suitcase is any bigger than that, your first checked bag usually costs around $30-50, as long as it weighs in at under 40-50 pounds. As your luggage exceeds that weight, the fees continue to climb.
Luckily, there are plenty of online tools to help you pack as cheaply as possible (like the ability to generate a quick checklist of travel essentials). One of my favorite tools, though, is this nifty calculator from Wayfairer Travel. Here’s how to use this calculator to predict how much your suitcase will weigh after packing.
How to use the suitcase calculator
Wayfairer’s calculator is simple. First, you have the option to select which airline you’re flying so that you can see their rules for luggage weight limits. Then, you can add adults’ and children’s items one by one. The calculator has all the travel basics you’re likely to pack, divided into categories like clothes, toiletries, and technology.
As you add items into your virtual suitcase, the tool adds up the total weight so you can see how much under or over your weight allowance you are.
According to their site, everything has been weighed and calculated as accurately as possible. For reference, women’s jeans came to 247 grams, while men’s jeans were typically 273 grams. Women’s denim shorts, on the other hand, were typically 250 grams while men’s were 220 grams.
This calculator is especially useful to experiment with which items you can jettison before even getting to the airport. For instance, I realized I can easily substitute my extra pair of jeans with much lighter leggings on my upcoming trip (to Iceland, if you were curious. Leave me travel tips in the comments below, please).
Use the calculator here, and then check out the most clever travel hacks from TikTok.