It’s inevitable… over time or as the family grows, the need to upgrade or update your luggage is required. But with so many brands and types of luggage out there, not to mention the thousands of reviews on sites such as Amazon that can leave you square-eyed and wishing that you didn’t book that next trip, I thought to try and be helpful and do some of the hard work for you!
The first thing is to choose a few defining characteristics so as to have an idea of where to begin. As a generalisation, these can be broken down into 4 categories:
How you intend to use your luggage makes a big impact on what travel bag you may be looking for. For instance…
When thinking of the size of your luggage there are also several other factors to consider, not least of all the airlines baggage guidelines. Every airline, whether domestic or international, has slightly different restrictions on their baggage both in the cabin and in the hold, and what is allowed on one may cost you a fortune at check-in with another. By thinking long term and across as many eventualities as possible that apply to your circumstances, you may just save yourself time, money, and hassle.
Not matter how often you travel, your luggage is likely to have a rougher time than you on the flight. The fact that hard-cased luggage is more durable than the soft-shell travel bags is evident, not only in the life of your suitcase but also on how the contents handle the trip. Ever thought of what would happen if your luggage was left on the tarmac in the rain? Or if someone else’s bottle of red wine in their case didn’t last the journey?
Of course, there are pros and cons to each type to consider. The soft-shell case is lighter and easier to manoeuvre for smaller people, as well as giving options of pockets and compartments on the outside, but doesn’t provide the same level of protection to your belongings. Whereas the hard-shell cases tend to have a longer lifespan, with more protection and durability, but can be cumbersome and heavy, and don’t offer compartments on the outside (a hassle when at the security line and having to remove things from inside the case). Also, luggage doesn’t just disappear when you return home, and hard-shell cases can require more room to store.
If your trips involve climbing 4 flights of stairs in a Parisian apartment, or tackling sandy paths to your private Maldivian villa, your case will probably need to be different to those that are doing a New York City break… and it all comes down to the wheels!
When moving over bumpy or rough terrain the best option is usually 2 wheels as pulling a suitcase behind you is easier than wheeling one beside you. Consider though that on 2 wheeled cases the wheels are usually more incorporated within the frame and therefore reduces the amount of room inside.
For smooth surfaces and for maneuverability in crowded areas, 4 wheels can’t be beaten! They literally glide beside you. The (slight) con? As the wheels sit outside the case, it makes the case larger by airline standards.
Regarding 4 wheeled luggage, everyone agrees that dual (twin) wheels on each is the only way to go. Less flimsy and unlikely to fall apart, they handle the weight of all your holiday souvenirs better and last longer.
As with any decision, value is always important. Weighing up how many times you intend to use your travel bag and how long you need it to last for against how much you are willing to spend on quality and durability is the hardest part of choosing your new luggage.
As with anything, there are price ranges starting from budget and going up to luxury branded pieces, and more often than not the old adage of “You get what you pay for” rings true. In my opinion, the high-end name brands often are leaving users paying for a name rather than quality, and the budget pieces just don’t cut the mustard. For value for money, the best for all the above features begin at around £70, but unless it had essential things I was specifically looking for (such as being oversized), I wouldn’t pay more than £175.
Within this price range are the well known brands of American Tourister, Samsonite, and the choice of most airline pilots and cabin crew, Travelpro. All with great reviews, it is easy to see why these brands top the lists of reliable travel bags over and over again.
There are several other things to consider when looking for your perfect luggage, such as zip quality, locks, handle quality and construction, warranty, and of course colour and style to suit you and stand out on the baggage conveyor, but as long as you get the above main points right you should have a suitcase that will be perfect for your needs and handle almost anything the airlines can throw at it!