In our quest to travel to France, Spain and Portugal with cabin luggage only (and 2 children in tow) we needed to plan ahead. The first rule is to know the weight limit set by your airline. These vary enormously, but are usually around 7 kilograms, which includes the weight of the bag itself.
To maximise our 7kg limit, we travelled around to various stores with our kitchen scales in hand, and we weighed EVERYTHING. We set up a spreadsheet listing the 4 bags, their contents, and the individual weight of every item in every bag to ensure we complied (yes, it's a bit obsessive but it worked for us).
One of the criteria we used to choose our luggage was weight (along with size, practicality etc.). Once we had our bags, we knew how much weight remained for us to fill with our belongings.
In taking our kitchen scales everywhere from adventure stores to supermarkets we encountered many quizzical looks from staff and other customers. We just smiled and ignored them - sometimes explaining if they actually asked what we were up to. We found out that the cups in K-Mart weigh at least 2 grams more than those from the adventure store, for example. Eight grams (total from 4 cups) counts when you need to travel light! But K-Mart had the lightest weight umbrellas for the size of the canopy.
When we did eventually check in at the airport, we found that the bags were pretty much exactly the weight we had calculated. One was slightly overweight, but one was under. Both were allowed, probably because we had no checked in luggage.
So what can be packed into 4 x 7kg bags? A surprising amount, actually! Apart from clothing, toiletries and camera, a few of the surprising items included:
- two car booster seats for the kids
- a laptop computer (one of the tiny netbooks with a 7 inch screen)
- plates, cups and plastic cutlery (cheap enough to be confiscated at customs if they had a problem with it)
- nappies (diapers)
- a swimming bubble flotation device
- battery charger (for camera batteries)
- books and games to occupy the kids
It is amazing what can be achieved with a lot of forethought and planning - and a reliable set of kitchen scales!