Here are a few questions to consider when choosing luggage:
How many days will you be gone? Will you have time for/access to laundry facilities? You may be able to get away with packing less clothes if you can wash and wear them again.
How much extra room will you need for souvenirs on your journey home?
Do you want to deal with checked baggage? For shorter trips, you may be able to get by with a carry-on only. This allows you to waltz right off the plane and straight on to your destination! No waiting at the luggage carousel!
If you’re limited on the amount of bags you can take with you, consider: How many people will be traveling? Can you fit more than one person’s belongings in one bag?
Our general rule is this:
3 days or less: We each fit everything into a backpack/weekender bag/carry-on size bag.
4 days or more: We each take our own suitcase, size based on number of days (Most luggage comes in a set with varying sizes. Buying in a bundle is nice for the options and saves money!).
Weight is a factor.
Remember that weight of each individual bag is a factor for airlines and even cruise ships. Don’t force the whole family’s belongings into one suitcase and end up over the weight limit (which can vary, so check with the carrier’s guidelines).
The most common maximum weight is 50 pounds per bag, but check with the company you’re traveling with to be sure.
Think about weight when shopping for your luggage and go for lighter (yet still sturdy!) pieces.
Overall size matters too!
Most airlines have a maximum TOTAL size of luggage, which means LENGTH PLUS WIDTH PLUS HEIGHT. This size is usually 62 inches, but again, check with your carrier.
When shopping for your suitcase, or set of suitcases, make sure the largest fits this requirement.
What features should you look for?
Not all luggage is created equal! Not only does luggage come in different sizes, but you’ll find different colors, materials, and even wheels.
Color: Standing at the baggage claim in the airport, we used to hate trying to find our black suitcase among the…you guessed it…many other BLACK bags. Even with brightly colored ribbons and luggage tags, spotting our bag was difficult. Opt for a different color (remember lighter colors will show scuffs and stains!) or pattern if you want your bag to stand out.
Would you rather it blend in? This may be helpful to keep your bag from being targeted by thieves. In this case, go for that black bag all the way! Keep this in mind when opting for a high-end, brand name bag as well. If the bag is nice, chances are so are the items inside it. Easy target.
Material: Would you prefer a hard or soft-side luggage? It really is a preference. Hard-side is more durable, but soft-side is more flexible and can often be expanded.
Some materials are better than others. For example, aluminum will be the most durable hard-side, but is expensive and won’t come in a range of colors. Polyester is the cheapest and least durable for soft-sides, but is super cheap.
Keep in mind that material choice will also affect the weight and the price of the suitcase.
Wheels: You definitely want wheels on anything larger than a carry-on bag. Some people even have wheels on their carry-ons, and that’s totally fine! Whatever is easier and most comfortable for you, do it.
Do you want 2 wheels or 4? Really, that’s a matter of opinion as well. Up until recently, I’ve only had 2-wheeled suitcases. Being able to pull a huge suitcase behind you is infinitely better than having to carry it, right? Right. 2 wheels are good enough, but 4 will offer more maneuverability.
Why is being able to maneuver important? When loading/unloading an elevator, your bag can roll at your side instead of behind you. This allows you to stay more compact and out of the way of others. When standing in customs lines, your bag can stay at your side and move at your pace rather than trailing along behind you. It just feels better.
Do keep in mind that if you’re ever on an incline with your 4-wheeled bag, don’t let go! It may roll off into the sunset!
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