You’re carrying your luggage to the hotel room, and the handle breaks halfway. You’re about to head back home, but the suitcase no longer fits all your belongings at the end of the trip. You’re standing beside the luggage carousel, searching for your own but mistakenly dragging someone else’s bag off the belt.
Choosing the right travel luggage is one of the most critical decisions any traveler can make and is necessary to prevent those embarrassments when flying across the country or having weeklong getaways in the neighboring city.
We’ve put together a helpful guide to help you choose the best suitcase.
Types of Travel Luggage
There is a bewildering choice when it comes to choosing your travel luggage.
Briefcases typically have hard sides inside and out, ideal for protecting your important documents; thus, professionals prefer them for business travels.
Travel backpacks are a good option for those who do a lot of outdoor activities like camping and hiking or who like to free their hands from heavy luggage when traveling.
Duffel bags come in handy for short trips as they are wearable with a large compartment and can fit into the overhead bin easily.
But the most common travel luggage is suitcases with wheels and handles. Think about airports, bus stations, or hotel front desks. Places you would visit when you travel are jammed with rolling suitcases.
Why Should You Travel with a Suitcase?
The biggest edge rolling suitcases have over other luggage is that you don’t have to manage the weight with too much force. Instead, you just roll it along using the retractable handle. Those wheels make luggage carrying so effortless that people even install them on backpacks and duffel bags to make them roll.
Travel suitcases come in a variety of sizes to satisfy different needs. And they are usually designed to keep your things organized in a way that other luggage fails to do.
So, how to pick the perfect suitcase for your next adventure? Here are the things you might want to consider.
1. Soft Shell vs. Hard Shell Luggage
Suitcases generally come in the hard and soft sides depending on materials.
Soft shell suitcases are made from fabric, nylon, and the like. They are generally lighter and more flexible than hard shell suitcases because they can stretch more around the edges to give you extra room for your outfits or be squeezed into the overhead compartment in the plane. If you opt for soft shell luggage, make sure the material you choose is waterproof, stain-proof, and durable against wear and tear.
Hard shell luggage, on the other hand, can protect your belongings better thanks to the molded hard shell mainly crafted from plastic. Overall, the shell protects better against rain, spills, and beatings if you need to check the bag compared to its soft counterparts. If you need to pack something fragile, hard shell luggage is a better option.
All materials mentioned above are not scratch-resistant and look cheap in most cases. Is it possible to make suitcases out of other materials like those used in phone cases? Definitely. There are hard shell luggage fabricating from composites like carbon fiber, but they tend to be very expensive since it’s very difficult to work with the durable material in bulk, and many brands have ignored that kind of material.
Over the years, we’ve been innovating material design on our mobile cases and accessories, for example, fusion weaving aramid fiber phone cases, carbon fiber watch bands and carbon fiber wallets. This year, our material experts are having another breakthrough through material design. We will apply innovative materials on suitcases. Stay tuned!
2. Choosing Luggage Size
Size is another indispensable factor to take into account when choosing your luggage.
If the suitcase is too small, you may have to choose between this or that shirt.
If too big, you have to physically manage redundant weight, and you might not be able to carry it onto the plane.
Domestic or international airlines have restrictions on the number, size, and weight of both carry-on and checked luggage. As a general rule, carry-on bags should not be larger than 22 inches, whereas checked luggage should be no larger than 62 inches. A travel suitcase measuring 22” x 9” x 14” or less is small enough to fit into the overhead compartment on most airlines. And rules of international and domestic travel may vary. Be sure to look it up before you pack.
3. The Best Color for Luggage
It could become quite challenging to find your luggage among all the other suitcases on the luggage carousel at the airport. Is that white suitcase mine? Does someone else pick up your luggage? Color is the most visible design of suitcases, so color is very important when it comes to choosing your travel luggage.
Though we have lots of color options for the luggage or luggage sets, most people opt for dark-colored luggage because dark colors, particularly black, show the least amount of wear and tear. But they don’t stand out as they are the first choice of many travelers. On the other hand, light colors are easier to spot but show a lot of wear. Therefore, the best choice could be luggage of bright colors but not too light, such as bright red, blue, and yellow. If you decide black or grey is the color, then go for suitcases with unique patterns or designs or add striking stickers or tags on the suitcase cover to make it stand out from the never-ending seas of black luggage on the carousel.
4. Safety is Important
Being able to pack your belongings and have them checked is just the first step of your trip. Keeping them safe through the journey shouldn’t be ignored.
The easiest way to deter people from stealing from your bag is to use locks. Some travel luggage comes with locks. You can buy your own if it doesn’t.
But locks are not foolproof. Thieves can manage to cut the lock off or just take the bag from you secretly. So, put your valuables in your carry-on, which you can keep an eye on all the time. And don’t forget to invest in travel insurance to cover a loss in case bad things happen.
5. Spinner vs. Roller Luggage
Basically, there are two kinds of wheels on the market: spinner and roller wheels. Spinners are more popular nowadays as they can move in every direction, easier to maneuver your luggage, requiring less strength or control. That said, spinner wheels are not stable on rugged terrain because they are more likely to get caught in cracks and bumps. And spinner wheels usually stick out of the luggage, taking up extra space.
Roller wheels are somewhat cut into the luggage and are better on tough terrain, but they are more difficult to maneuver on flat surfaces because they only move one way instead of every direction.
On top of that, you need to choose between four and two wheels. More wheels means more weight but they also make things easier. Four wheels are more seen than two these days. If you still have a vague idea of the difference between those wheels, visit a physical store to roll types of wheels to determine which suits you best.
6. Other Features You Should Consider
You can’t always roll your luggage. You need to carry it anyway, carrying it up stairs, for example. That’s why they have put handles on luggage, either on the top or the side. Make sure the handles are sturdy, and durable to withstand the weight of your belongings. I once lifted my luggage when getting on a bus, the handle broke and the suitcase rolled over the stairs and fell out of the gear door. Can you imagine how awkward that was?
Pockets and compartments are useful to keep your belongings organized and give additional space. Put what you might need to use before you arrive at the hotel in the outer compartments, so you don’t need to unzip your suitcase in the middle of the street to rummage through the umbrella or water bottle.
Some luggage even includes built-in charging ports so you can power up your phone on the go.
As wonderful as it is, traveling can be pretty stressful. So start by choosing the best travel luggage to decrease drama throughout the journey.