Generally speaking, the first travel luggage recommendation we'd give you is to get the smallest bag you can live with... preferably carry-on size as far as we're concerned. This can vary from airline to airline, but a general rule of thumb is a total of 45 inches or 115 cm (height plus length plus depth).
We think carry-on size works best on planes, but it helps out when you're walking to find your hotel or when you're traveling in a rental car...
Travel luggage recommendation number two is not to run out and get the cheapest luggage you can find. Especially if you think you're going to be checking your bags. We think the jokes about airline luggage handlers are overdone, but luggage does take a beating when it's checked and hauled from aircraft to aircraft, so you want something that will hold up. Who wants to buy new luggage every couple of trips?
So what do we recommend? What should you be looking for in luggage? It really is up to your travel plans and travel style, but when you're looking, there are some basic things you should take into consideration.
You want something that has tough construction…. you want it durable, not necessarily pretty. Check to make sure the zippers or clasps will hold up under heavy use. I mean, if you have to sit on your bag to get it to close, are those zippers going to pop open as you dash through the airport?
Check the handles. Do they look like they might fall off the first time that bag gets grabbed in a hurry? If there is a pull-up handle for a roll-aboard, does it extend and retract easily? Is it long or short enough to be comfortable for you?
And if you opt for a roll-aboard, check to make sure that the wheels are sturdy. Small flimsy wheels may break, fall off, or stop working in short order. Consider whether you want wheels. We think they make life easier as you pass through airports and drag bags through cities to find your hotel.
Here are some facts that might make you consider ditching the wheels…. wheels on some bags can greatly increase the empty weight of your bag, and sometimes subtract up to one third of your usable space. If you can't live without those wheels (I still like them) then before you buy, compare bags to find one that is as light and sturdy and roomy as possible.
Heavy bags also can cost you more if you check your luggage. Remember that most airlines have a weight limit for check luggage before they charge you even more… usually 50 pounds (22.7 kilos).
Hard sided bags protect fragile contents a little better. Soft-sided bags are easier to squeeze into those overhead bins or under the seat in front of you.
Check to see if the bags have locks or if you can attach locks. Bags that will be checked should have locks that are approved by the TSA or other government's security agencies.
I heard you saying we didn't recommend anything specific. No, what you get should suit you and your travel style. Our travel luggage recommendations are things to think about when you're choosing that perfect bag for your trip.
Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark
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