Best Luggage Buyers Guide 101: Everything You Need To Know
With travel slowly picking up across the world, many travelers are now thinking about buying a proper suitcase for their next journey. If you are thinking about traveling again, and now you are looking in your closet at your luggage that has been collecting dust for the past year and noticing the look and functionality is not what you want for your next vacation, then this luggage buyers guide is for you.
Thinking about buying a piece of luggage to bring with you on your next holiday isn’t easy as many think. With a myriad of brands, styles, sizes, and prices to decide on, buying luggage can be challenging.
This luggage buyers guide will help you figure out the right luggage for you. It will break down factors like the mode of transportation, length of travel, luggage types, materials they are made of, and features to look for in choosing the right luggage for you.
This luggage buyers guide is a breakdown of countless reviews from actual Amazon customers on what they think is important to them in choosing the right luggage for traveling that can help you with the right purchasing decision.
Best Luggage Buyers Guide 101: Everything You Need To Know
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Picking What You Need
What Type Of Travel Do You Like?
This is an important question to ask yourself because it determines the type of luggage to bring with you on your next holiday. When you travel, are you flying from city to city? Are you driving or taking a train across the country? Or, are you the type of traveler that enjoys traveling the open seas on a cruise ship?
If it’s air travel, you will need to be familiar with the luggage restrictions set by the airlines you enjoy flying with. If you are planning a road trip across the country, you will need flexible luggage to maximize truck space. For cruising holidays, you will need to look for luggage that is sturdy and flat enough that will store easily in the ship‘s belly before departure.
How Will You Store Your Luggage When Your Holiday Is over?
This luggage buyers guide question is important because you need to figure out where you will be storing your luggage when your holiday is over. You can opt for hard-sided luggage that is sturdy and unforgiving luggage that won’t damage over time, but the problem is they don’t store as easily as soft-sided luggage that has some forgiveness to it.
What Size Luggage Do You Need?
What length of trips do you like taking? Also, what airlines do you like flying with? What travel necessities do you like to pack for business or pleasure-type trips?
If it’s a short trip, can you pack all of your belongings in a carry-on suitcase? If it’s luggage for check-in, will you need a little bit of leeway for additional souvenirs coming back? If you are looking for luggage for a business trip, do you need room for business attire?
These are many questions you have to ask yourself while researching the right baggage for your travels.
What Online Reviewers Look For In Choosing Luggage
From the research I gathered from traveling websites and amazon reviews to create this luggage buyers guide, I found that reviewers favored brands like American Tourister, Briggs & Riley, Delsey, Samsonite, Travelpro, and Tumi for their carry-on luggage of choice. In regards to checked luggage brands, American Tourister, Delsey, Ricardo Beverly Hills, Samsonite, and Travelpro were the go-to brands.
The features that customers looked for the most in travel luggage were the suitcase’s wheel ability and its durability. When it came to durability, the focus was on how well zippers, handles, fabric, and other features held up over long periods of travel.
Online customers also mentioned that besides all the features above, the key feature to a great piece of luggage was how easy the luggage is to carry, pack, and, for carry-ons, stow in airplane overhead bins.
For Carry-on Luggage, Briggs & Riley, Away, Eagle Creek, and eBags are highly rated brands to check out Travelpro, Samsonite, Eagle Creek, and Briggs & Riley have overall satisfaction scores for checked luggage options.
Types of Luggage
Carry-on luggage is useful for travelers that want to avoid checking in bags and paying additional airline fees. But, when it comes to finding the right size of Carry-on luggage, they must fit either under a seat or in the overhead bin.
Now the following will depend on the airline you are flying with, but for domestic flights, your carry-on can be no larger than 22 inches high by 14 inches wide by 9 inches deep.
How to measure this properly, measure the height of your suitcase from the floor to the top of the handle in its lowered position. (If your luggage has wheels, they count toward the overall height.) Depth is measured from front to back, and width from side to side.
For European carriers, the size limit is generally smaller than for U.S. domestic flights. So make sure that the carry-on luggage you decide on fits within the airline requirements, or you will be checking in your baggage which is an added fee.
If you are a frequent flyer that flies different carriers, decide on whether you want to buy multiple carry-on suitcases to conform to the various size restrictions, or just use one carry-on that meets the most restrictive rules.
Personal Item Bag
Travelers sometimes think that their carry-on luggage counts as a personal item, but unfortunately this type of thinking will cause problems when they get on board.
A personal item bag fits underneath the seat in front of you on a plane. This can include briefcases, tote bags, camera bags, laptop bags, and small backpacks. Some cases available from travel brands are specifically designed for this purpose.
These types of bags include sections for your passport, phone, pen, and wallet, as well as a padded section for a laptop and the main section for clothes and overnight essentials. These underseat bags are perfect for weekend getaways as well.
There is no standard size for these bags. For U.S. domestic flights, the measurement rules range from a generous 18x8x14 inches (Spirit) to a meager 17x9x10 inches (United); some airlines don’t specify dimensions.
The problem with some aircraft is the space under a seat can vary even within the same aircraft. Aisle seats are famous for having the least room underneath. So, just like any type of luggage in this post, review the specifications for various airlines before shopping.
What I do is I usually check the aircraft’s guidelines for onboard pet carriers which helps me figure out the floor-to-underseat clearance better.
I know many of us don’t like checking in luggage because of waiting after a long flight for the baggage to show up on the luggage carrousel, but sometimes a larger suitcase is necessary for airline travel.
Any suitcase larger than carry-on must be checked in. The most standard size options are 24 to 30 inches in height. You can get suitcases as large as 36 inches but you will have to verify with your carrier for size limits. Plus with checked-in bags, there is often a weight limit, and extra fees will be applied for excess weight per bag.
Checked baggage fees are pretty much standard on most major airlines, and the fees vary from $30 for one bag, $40 for a second, and $150 for a third checked-in bag. For budget airlines like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit that even charge for carry-on luggage, their fees range from $10 – $75. Plus, you may get charged more if you wait to pay at the airport.
If you have a branded credit card from the airline you are flying with, you may have the checked baggage fees waived. But, check with your airline and credit card company beforehand.
You may be able to avoid bag fees by purchasing your ticket with the airline’s branded credit card. Or, if you often fly on one airline, see whether it offers an annual subscription plan for checked bags.
What Makes A Great Bag For Travel
Below are some key features that you should look for in choosing the right luggage for travel.
Have you ever had to sit on your luggage because you overpacked it, and you hoped that the zippers would hold up for your journey? I know I have.
So many things can happen with a luggage zipper, and the last thing you don’t want is the zippers to break while you are traveling.
When it comes to zippers on a suitcase, there are two types: chain and coil.
A chain zipper has two sets of interlocking teeth, usually made of metal. It’s more dependable and tougher than a coil zipper, which slides on two parallel coils usually composed of polyester.
Chain zippers are much more difficult to break into than coil zippers, which can be torn apart with a ballpoint pen and reclosed. Zippers are usually an implication of the overall quality of the bag. A “YKK” zipper is widely regarded in the industry to be the most reliable zipper on the market. So make sure the luggage you are looking at has this type of zipper.
Wheeled “spinner” luggage, which makes up most of the luggage market, has retractable handles.
For the best support while maneuvering through an airport or the streets of Paris, look for an adjustable-length, soft-grip handle. Make sure that the handle retracts fully inside the luggage so it is less likely to be damaged. Two-wheeled bags can have one-or two-post handles.
But with the customer reviews and comments I have seen, many travelers prefer a two-post handle system because of its ability to add a smaller bag while in transit or to hold a laptop, briefcase, or tote while waiting.
The number, size, and configuration of luggage pockets or compartments are also factors in choosing the right bag for you. Many travel packs now come with dedicated, padded pockets for a laptop to help you not have to bring with you another bag during travel.
For the business traveler, you should look for an interior compartment called a “suiter”, which allows you to pack a suit inside your normal suitcase without having to pack a separate garment bag.
If you travel quite a bit, you understand the key to traveling light. Factoring the cost of baggage fees, it’s a good idea to look for lightweight luggage when shopping for the perfect bag for your travels.
Reviewers suggest that a nonwheeled bag weighs between 2 and 4 pounds, and a wheeled bag weighs no more than 7.5 pounds.
For airline travel, you only want the load of your belongings to be what’s weighing your bag down, and not the bag. So the key to packing right is weighing your bag before checking in at the airport. Check with the airline about weight limits so you don’t pay a fee for overweight checked baggage, or having to check an overweight carry-on.
For U.S. travel, luggage locks have to be TSA-compliant. What this means is that it allows security agents to be able to use a universal master key to open your lock without having to break it if they have to physically inspect the contents of your bag.
If buy a lock from a luggage store to replace a lost TSA-compliant lock, make sure the packaging indicated whether it is TSA-compliant or not. For integrated locks, the luggage’s description tag will provide this information.
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Soft-Sided or Hard-Sided
Soft-Sided Luggage – These suitcases are usually lighter in weight than hard-sided suitcases, and they can flex and compress to conform to tight spaces, such as a plane’s overhead bin. This flexibility also allows you to squeeze in an extra outfit or two. Plus, they are easier to pack into a car trunk and to store at home.
The only problem with soft-sided luggage is that they are not as protective as hard-sided suitcases, and are vulnerable to ripping.
Hard-Sided Luggage – Today’s hard-shell or hard-sided luggage is madewith high-tech plastics, such as ABS and polycarbonate, which are lightweight and durable. ABS is lighter, but polycarbonate is more durable.
These are the best suitcases for guarding breakable items, plus they offer better security because of integrated locks. Hard-sided luggage stacks easily, making it ideal for cruise ships, because baggage is normally stacked in the belly of the boat before departure. The only problem is they can scuff and scratch easily.
Two Wheels or Four Wheels
If you plan on rolling your luggage, your first determination is whether to buy a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler.
Two-Wheel Luggage – Wheels are recessed, which protects them from snapping off during rough handling. For city trips, two-wheelers are better than four-wheelers for clearing curbs and rolling on uneven surfaces, such as sidewalks or cobblestones.
They are a bit of a pain in crowded spaces because you need clearance between yourself and the bag. Plus, the recessed wheels take up valuable space in the bag’s interior packing area.
Four-Wheel Luggage – known as “spinners” because each wheel swivels 360 degrees. You can push them, pull them, wheel them alongside yourself, and turn them in any direction.
These are easier to navigate in tight spaces. A heavy or large suitcase may also be easier to manage with four wheels because unlike two-wheelers, you don’t have to drag the suitcase. The only problem I have with four-wheel luggage is the wheels are externally mounted, not recessed, so they are vulnerable to snapping off.
There can be so much more that can be added to the luggage buyers’ guide that would start to bore you after a while.
If you stick with the favored brands like American Tourister, Briggs & Riley, Delsey, Samsonite, Travelpro, Tumi, Eagle Creek, and eBags for carry-on luggage and American Tourister, Delsey, Ricardo Beverly Hills, Samsonite, and Travelpro checked luggage brands, you will have dependable and reliable luggage for years to come.
Do you have a favorite brand or feature I am missing from this luggage buyers guide? Let me know in the comment section below as I would love to hear from you.
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.