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How to Work out Luggage Dimensions Without a Tape Measure

When preparing for a trip, knowing your luggage dimensions is crucial to avoid extra fees and ensure your bags meet airline requirements.

But what if you don't have a tape measure at hand?

Don't worry, there are several clever ways to measure your luggage without one. Check them out below.

Image: A photo of a man in a checkered shirt, sunglasses, and jeans, with a suitcase and backpack, checking his passport and luggage at a duty-free shop.

Use Common Objects as Reference

When a tape measure is nowhere to be found, you can turn to everyday objects to estimate your luggage dimensions. These methods might not be as precise as using a tape measure, but they can give you a good approximation.

Use a Standard Piece of Paper

  • Grab a standard A4 or letter-sized paper, which is usually about 8.5 x 11 inches.
  • Place the paper against your luggage, aligning one edge of the paper with the edge of your bag.
  • Mark where the paper ends and repeat the process from this point onwards until you reach the end of your bag.
  • Count how many times you repeated the process and multiply it by the length of the paper

Use Your Foot

  • Measure the length of your foot from heel to toe.
  • Walk alongside your luggage, placing your heel at one end and your toe at the other.
  • Count your steps and multiply by the length of your foot to estimate the length of your bag.

Use Your Hand

  • This works if you know the width of your hand (typically around 4 inches)
  • Use your hand as a rough measuring tool. For example, if your hand spans the width of your bag, you can estimate that side's dimension to be around 4 inches.
Image: A person raising their hand, isolated against a pink background, showing the full length from the wrist to the fingertips.

Use Your Smartphone

Your smartphone can be a handy tool for measuring your luggage dimensions, thanks to its built-in camera and available apps.

Use the Camera App

  • Most smartphones have a ruler function in their camera app.
  • Take a photo of your luggage from a straight angle, ensuring the entire bag is visible.
  • Use the ruler tool in the editing options to measure the dimensions of your luggage on the screen.

Use Apps

There are numerous free apps available for both iOS and Android that can measure objects using your phone's camera. Simply download one of these apps, follow the instructions to calibrate it, and then use it to measure your luggage by pointing your camera at it.

Image: A photo of a young girl with long hair and black glasses, sitting on a chair against an orange background, looking at her phone with a laptop on her knees and a suitcase right beside her.

Use Fixed Objects

Fixed objects in your environment can serve as reliable reference points for measuring your luggage dimensions when you don't have a tape measure. Such include tiles, floorboards, and door frames. Here is how;

Using Tiles or Floorboards

If your luggage is on a tiled floor or floorboard, you can use the dimensions of these fixed objects to estimate your luggage size.

First, measure the number of tiles or floorboards your luggage covers. Then, count the number of tiles or boards it spans to get a rough idea of its length and width. For example, if each tile is 12 inches wide and your luggage covers four tiles, your luggage is roughly 48 inches long.

Use Door Frames

Door frames can be a great reference point since standard door heights are known to be 6 feet tall.

Just place your luggage next to the door frame and visually compare its height to the door.

Use this comparison to estimate the height of your luggage. For instance, if your bag reaches halfway up the door, it is roughly 36 inches tall.

Use Your Body

Your body can also come in handy when you don't have measuring tools.

Use Your Arm

The length of your arm, from your shoulders to your fingertips, is roughly the same as the length of your foot or about half your height.

Use your arm to measure segments of your luggage. For example, place your hand, at one end of the bag, with the fingertips at the edge, and extend your arm along its length. Mark where your arm reaches and continue measuring from that point.

Use Your Height

Stand next to your luggage and compare its height to your own.

For example, if your bag reaches your waist, you can estimate it to be about half your height. If it reaches your knees, it's roughly a third of your height.

This method provides a quick and easy way to estimate the height of your luggage without any tools.

Image: A photo of a girl standing upright with her arms spread out at her sides.

Use Household Items

Everyday items around your home can be handy tools for estimating the size of your luggage. Make sure you pick items that have known dimensions for accuracy.

Some of these items are;


A standard hardcover book is usually around 9 x 6 inches. Place the book next to your luggage and use it as a reference to measure the length, width, and height. For example, if the width of the luggage is about the same as the book’s width, it’s roughly 6 inches wide.

A Ruler or a School Supply

Many households have a ruler, which is typically 12 inches long. If you don’t have a ruler, a standard pencil or pen is usually about 7.5 inches (You can borrow a pen at the airport if you don't already have one on you).

Use the ruler or pencil to measure your luggage in segments. Place it along the edge of your luggage and mark the end point, then move it to continue measuring from that point.

A Piece of String

Use a piece of string or yarn to wrap around your luggage and mark the length of the string.

Measure the string against a known object like a book, a piece of furniture, or any other household item with known dimensions.

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