*Please note that this post utilizes affiliate links. Any purchases you make by clicking the below product links will help to fund this site with no change in the item’s price for you. Win, win! Thanks so much for supporting Just Chasing Rabbits.
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.
We recommend picking up a SteadMax Manual Luggage Scale with built-in Tape Measure so you can always check the weight of your luggage. Throw it in your bag for peace of mind on the return trip as well.
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.
Again, we recommend picking up a SteadMax Manual Luggage Scale with built-in Tape Measure so you can measure your luggage and carry-ons. As a scale AND tape measure, it’s a handy little gadget to have around. Also, it doesn’t require batteries. Score!
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!
Bags We Love!
Stand out with a bag featuring your favorite Disney character or go simple in grays or blacks. Either way, here are some bags that we really love!
Put your name on it!
Although the numbers are down, some luggage still gets lost. You definitely don’t want it to be yours!
To better your chances of making it to your destination with your bag (or at least have it returned to you at some point), make sure your name and contact information are in the suitcase somewhere.
Some bags come with a clear pocket where you can slide an information card in. Some luggage tags include an area to add your contact information. Put it on a scrap of paper and stick it inside the suitcase as well.
Accessorize those bags!
Make your bag easy to recognize. If you’ve opted for a plain bag, you may have trouble spotting your bag as it circles around on the baggage carousel. Add a bright colored ribbon or unique luggage tag so you know for sure that bag is yours!
Worried about your bag bursting open? Luggage straps can be added, tightened around the bag like a belt. There are tons of options for luggage straps, so get some in your favorite color or personalized with your last name! It’ll keep your bag closed AND make your bag recognizable. Double duty item!
Consider getting a set of packing cubes to simplify the process of packing. They allow you to separate your items, save space and keep everything folded neatly. When you’re at your destination, you can easily find what you need or even stick the cubes in hotel drawers. We use eBags Packing Cubes.
Storage bags are your friend. Stash some Ziplocs away in the pockets of your suitcase because you will definitely find a use for them while traveling. Put your shampoo, lotion, and contact lens solution in a baggie so there’s no mess if a leak occurs. Our swim shoes will fit in a gallon-sized bag, which prevent the wetness and sand from spreading around our suitcase. Also great for wet swimsuits.
Pack a laundry bag. You’ll want to keep your dirty clothes from mingling with all the clean clothes. Many people use a pop-up hamper, but we have a cloth laundry bag that we carry with us. The cloth bag cinches at the top and can be shoved back in a suitcase full. When we get home, we just empty the clothes into the washer and drop the bag in on top. Boom.
Our newest useful find is cruise tags. Usually for cruises, you print out your tag with your information, fold it, and tape it/staple it to your luggage handle. For years, we worried about the paper tags staying on to ensure that our luggage would arrive at our cruise cabin. Plastic cruise tags have definitely eased our worries. The printed tag is placed in a clear zip-up pouch that attaches to your luggage handle via steel loops.