While some over-prepared travelers mail entire care packages to their destinations ahead of time and others strive for minimalism, bringing only the a carry-on, most vacationers will want reliable luggage. Given the dizzying array of styles, brands, and types, however, finding the perfect suitcase or backpack can seem like a particularly tricky problem. The following tips will be sure to keep you jet-setting around the world with stylish and functional baggage.
When selecting luggage, it’s important to consider how it will be used; a duffle bag perfect for the weekend warrior on a road trip will be terrible for someone headed out on an around-the-world tour. A serious traveler will want something capable of air travel, so when buying luggage for a specific trip, be sure to look up the baggage restrictions for each airline; 45 total inches, adding together height, width, and length, is the limit for US airline carry-ons, while 62 total inches is the checked bag limit, and many foreign and international carriers have more restrictive weight and measurement requirements. Given the increasing prices on checked luggage, many travel experts recommend sticking to carry-on baggage, though this can be impossible for longer trips or vacations requiring specialized equipment like skis or climbing gear.
Experts agree on many facets of the luggage question. Soft-sided luggage can be surprisingly strong, especially with the use of ballistic nylon, as well as easier to repair and pack full; hard-shell suitcases are far more likely to protect fragile items like electronics or souvenirs. Either type can be excellent luggage, but be prepared to spend money for quality materials, as cheaper luggage often buckles under pressure. On the other hand, spending a bundle should never be necessary. Designer luggage can be glamorous, but between baggage handlers, the rigors of travel, and the fragile fancy materials, it’s often advisable to stick to something more affordable. Expect to spend between $150 and $300 on a higher quality piece of luggage; otherwise, accept that you may need to purchase new luggage often, as cheaper options will be unlikely to last through many vacations.