No matter where your travel plans may take you, luggage will definitely be a part of your entourage. When you travel by air, picking the right suitcase might actually make your trip an easier one. There are many criteria to consider, from the size, to the weight, to the color. Some suitcase brands are known for their ample storage, while others have multiple pockets. There are also luggage sets with multiple sizes that can handle the packing needs of the whole family. Of course, the prices can range from the very affordable to the pricey designer brands. When deciding which suitcase is best for you, be sure to take all of these options into consideration.
Lightweight suitcases will allow you to pack more without exceeding the weight limits that might incur extra baggage fees at check-in. You should check with your airline for their weight limit policies and fees, as they can vary by the carrier.
Most suitcases available today have wheels. However, do not just assume this is the case. Wheeled suitcases will definitely make maneuvering through airports much easier. They can also save you money, if you choose to forego the help of a baggage handler or porter. There are also different types of wheels, from inline wheels to spinners. Inline options make it easier to keep the suitcase straight, while spinners allow it to turn 360-degrees, which can be a big help with larger pieces of luggage.
Durability is also an important consideration. No matter the price range you choose, you should be able to expect quite a few years of service out of a luggage purchase. Check for a sturdy framework, corner supports, strong zipper construction, well anchored wheels, and an expandable handle that can manage the weight of a fully packed suitcase. Depending upon whether your choice is a soft-side or hard-side suitcase, the exterior material is also important. If you choose a soft-sided version, the fabric should be a strong, heavy-duty weave that resists punctures or tears, and is somewhat water-resistant. A good option for hard-side luggage is one with a polycarbonate shell, which is lightweight but extremely resilient.
When deciding on your suitcase, size does matter. To stay within airline specifications, a carry-on piece should not exceed 45-inches, when the length, width, and height are added together. Checked baggage should not be more that 62-inches. Again, it is always best to check with your carrier to make sure their requirements are not different. Exceeding these sizes might mean your carry-on will need to be checked, or you could be charged additional baggage fees for an oversized checked bag.
The color or pattern of your bag can make claiming your luggage much easier. Everyone has watched one black bag after another pass by on the luggage belt in the baggage claim area. While different and imaginative baggage tags can help, there are other options that can help even more. While bright colors or crazy patterns might not be your first choice, they definitely make locating your luggage much quicker. If you do have the standard black or dark blue suitcase, there are brightly colored woven canvas straps that fit around your suitcase and snap into place. Not only do these help you to identify your suitcase in baggage claim, they also help to support the suitcase, especially if it packed to its capacity.
One additional consideration is a “piggy-back” strap. This option allows you to connect one back to another, allowing a second bag to “piggy-back” on a larger one. Just like the wheels, this option will allow you to easily transport your own baggage without the need of a porter or baggage handler.
No matter what suitcase you might choose, the final decision should be based on your own personal needs and preferences, as well as your price range. More expensive does not always mean better quality. However, quality and longevity are important factors and might mean paying a bit more. In the long run, if you think about what it will cost to replace a lower priced version more often, versus spending a bit more for luggage that lasts longer, that slightly higher price tag will most likely be the most economical choice.
Now it is time to make your selection, get packing, and don’t forget to…
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Liz and Mike Kohler
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