Luggage Buying Guide

Luggage prices vary greatly so it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions before you purchase your bags. For example, you should ask yourself how often you will be traveling, the reason you travel, where will you be traveling, and the mode of transportation you will use. Are you a frequent traveler? If you only take one or two trips a year, you will probably prefer to focus more on the long-term durability of your luggage. You will want to purchase a decent piece or set that is not too expensive and can adapt to your future needs. You may therefore want something that is durable and may come with a lifetime guarantee. You may also be interested in something expandable, which is the most versatile type of luggage. If you travel often, either several times a year or even several times a week, then you will probably want something with maximum durability. Additionally, for commuters, you will want luggage that is well organized and easy to access. Look for specialized compartments to hold phones, PDS, or other items you may find necessary. Also, remember to get something lightweight. These models will usually cost more, but they are worth the added quality. You should then think about what kind of luggage you would be comfortable carrying. Knowing something about the different types of luggage available also helps. Suitcases are the most common, but business cases, duffle bags, garment bags and backpacks are also useful.

Large Luggage

Suitcases come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations and most fall into one of three categories: hard-sided, soft-sided and semi-soft. Hard-sided suitcases offer the best protection for interior contents and durability. They are usually made of some type of hard plastic (such as polycarbonate) or metal . Since these materials do not expand, you are limited on how much you can carry in your suitcase.. Hard side luggage also tends to weigh more than other styles, so if you are planning on flying with these bags, make sure you consider the extra weight. At the other end of the spectrum you have soft-sided suitcases. These types of bags are easily expandable and are generally lightweight, with many more options for exterior storage pockets. Obviously since they are soft, they won't provide as much impact protection as a hard-sided suitcase can provide. A happy medium can be the semi-soft suitcases. These bags provide the best of both worlds - soft sides with a solid frame. They are easily expandable, and they can provide more impact protection and security than soft-sided bags. Semi-soft cases also weigh considerably less than a hard-sided suitcase. Most of the suitcases and rolling luggage sold today fit into this category.

Here are a few additional things you may want to consider when purchasing a suitcase. Due to the larger size of some suitcases (larger than 24 inches), they must be checked when traveling by plane. Unfortunately, most airlines are currently charging to check bags and are severely limiting the amount of bags and the weight you can carry. In addition, most luggage you see at the baggage claim is black. Fortunately, most luggage companies today make luggage in a variety of colors, patterns, and even designer inspired looks that can you help you spot your bags. Also, there are options such as detachable vinyl pouches that are ideal for holding toiletries and other things that could make a mess. You can take it out of the suitcase and leave it in the bathroom when you reach your destination! Shoe pockets are another item that might come in handy. These extra pockets can keep your shoes from getting the rest of your clothes and things dirty. Wheeled luggage comes in two varieties, two wheeled and four wheeled, also called spinners. Spinners easily spin 360 degrees for ease of maneuverability.

Small Luggage

Select small luggage items are designed for overnight travel, short trips, and airplane use. Most of these bags are called carry-on luggage. Carry-on bags are small enough to stow under an airplane seat and, in general, are 22" x 14" x 9". As with regular suitcases, carry-on luggage is available in hard, semi-soft, or soft varieties. Some popular types of carry-on luggage are garment bags and carriers, duffle bags, totes, business cases (including briefcases and laptop bags), messenger bags, and backpacks.

Garment bags and carriers are designed to hold garments on a hanger to reduce wrinkling of the carried items. Garment bags come in several lengths. 40-inch lengths are designed for men’s suits. 53-inch lengths are designed for women’s dresses. There are even 60-inch length bags designed for formal wear! Each garment bag can hold two to ten items depending on its ability to expand and can be purchased with or without wheels depending on the style. Duffle bags are oversized and roomy. These bags have soft sides and will carry a lot of clothes and accessories. To make the duffle bag easier to transport, look for duffle bags with handles, shoulder straps, and even wheels to increase maneuverability in and around airports. Some duffel bags are more specialized, such as fire turnout gear bags or even duffels with a garment carrier.

Tote bags come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Simple tote bags in every size are ideal for day trips, grocery shopping, and other casual outings. More elaborate models feature pockets and shoulder straps.

Business cases actually cover a wide range of products. They can hold your computer, important papers and, in some cases, an overnight change of clothes. Some manufacturers even offer wheeled bags for greater ease in moving through an airport. Some bags are designed specifically for holding your laptop and the peripherals that go along with that important tool. Other bags are more like your traditional briefcase or attaché. Like with many products, there are certain manufacturers associated with certain products, such Schlesinger, Hartmann, and Wenger, but that doesn’t mean these are your only great options.

Backpacks are designed for more casual traveling and outdoor trips. Backpacks work especially well for people willing to pack light. There a variety of backpacks suited for different uses. School bags, bags designed and sized specifically children, camera bags, hiking bags, laptop bags, even first aid bags are just a few! Most backpacks have two shoulder straps for even distribution of weight, but the sling style backpack has a centered strap for carrying across the back. Just as a reminder, when thinking about purchasing a backpack, remember that your shoulders and back need to support all the weight of the bag. If this is a problem you may want to consider a different type of bag. Although not your only options, some popular backpack brands are Kelty and Northface.

Messenger bags are styled after the ones bicycle messengers carry. They typically feature a shoulder strap so the bag can be worn across your body with the bag hanging down at your side or slung onto your back. These style bags are generally rectangular in shape and roomy enough for magazines, courier-size envelopes, files, laptops, and anything else you might need to put into the bag. Messenger bags typically close with a large front flap using buckles, velcro, or other type of fastener and often feature reflective strips. There are many different materials that messenger bags are made from. Some are made of waterproof material such as nylon or pvc, while others are made from cotton canvas or even leather.

Airline Bagging Restrictions Sizing Chart