Suitcase 101: Picking the Right Travel Luggage for Your Journeys

Suitcase 101: Picking the Right Travel Luggage for Your Journeys

As seasoned travellers, we understand the struggle of finding the perfect travel luggage. With countless options, materials, and sizes to choose from, it can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the world of travel. Fear not, for we’ve compiled a Suitcase 101 guide to help you navigate this seemingly complex decision.

When it comes to selecting the right suitcase, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your choice will depend on personal preferences, travel frequency size luggage used, and budget. But certain features are worth considering, such as water resistance, which can protect your belongings from unpredictable weather and less-than-careful baggage handlers.

We also recommend paying attention to the luggage size. For example, opting for a suitcase with measurements no larger than 22″ x 9″ x 14″ will ensure it fits into most airline overhead compartments. Knowing airline restrictions is essential. Now, let’s share a laugh, shall we?

Did you know that choosing a luggage colour could rival a fashion statement? Picking a distinctive colour can save you precious time at the baggage carousel, as you’ll spot your flamboyant, pink-striped suitcase amidst the sea of black wheelies!

Types of Luggage

Types of Luggage

When it comes to choosing luggage, to travelling, it’s essential to choose the right luggage to suit our needs. Let us explore some of the popular types:

Rolling Suitcases

In our opinion, rolling suitcases have become a staple for travellers worldwide. With their built-in wheels and sturdy handles, these bags are designed for dragging along effortlessly. Their classic rectangular shape allows for easy stacking in the overhead compartments or under seats .

Choose from two-wheel or four-wheel options. Did you know that four-wheel suitcases are also called spinner suitcases? They can easily manoeuvre through crowded airports and tight spaces.

Duffle Bags

Duffle bags are versatile companions for short trips, sports or camping outings. The soft-sided design allows us to squish them into tight spaces, making them convenient for storage. They usually come with handles and a shoulder strap.

But here’s a fun fact: Did you know there are also wheeled luggage and duffle bags? They offer the best of both worlds, combining the easy mobility of rolling suitcases with the convenience of duffle bags.

Travel Backpacks

Ah, travel backpacks – the go-to for adventure seekers and minimalist travellers like us. With their ergonomic design and adjustable straps, they distribute weight evenly across our shoulders and back, making them perfect for walking, hiking, or navigating uneven terrain.

Travel backpacks often come in various sizes and capacities , which cater to different travel durations and packing requirements.

Garment Bags

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Picture this: You have a special event to attend during your trip, and you need to pack a suit or dress in pristine condition. Enter garment bags – the unsung heroes of wrinkle-free packing. These bags are specially designed to hold your garment securely, keeping it in tip-top shape for your big night.

Garment bags come in both carry-on and checked sizes, enabling us to protect our precious formal wear in transit. Plus, they often feature additional compartments for storing shoes and accessories.

So there you have it. From rolling suitcases to garment bags, we now have a good understanding of the variety of luggage options to choose from. The world is our oyster, so let’s pack our duffel bags and start exploring!

Size and Capacity

Getting the right suitcase size and capacity is paramount for a comfortable travelling experience. In this section, we’ll dive into the world of carry-on and checked luggage sizes.

Carry-on Luggage

When selecting carry-on luggage, it’s essential to be aware of each airline’s specific requirements. Most airlines operate within the dimensions of around 22″ x 14″ x 9″ for carry-ons. If your bag doesn’t adhere to these dimensions, you may be forced to check your luggage and pay any additional fees.

Wondering how much you can pack in your trusty carry-on? Well, the answer varies depending on the traveller. Are you a packing minimalist or an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” type? In any case, a well-sized carry-on allows for a weekend getaway or even a week-long trip if you’re efficient with your packing.

Checked Luggage

For longer trips, checked luggage is your go-to option. But hold your horses! Do you know the different sizes of checked luggage available? Let’s take a look:

  • Small checked suitcases: 23-24 inches

  • Medium checked suitcases: 25-27 inches

  • Large checked suitcases: 28-32 inches

Note that suitcases above 30 inches might be considered oversized due to their linear dimensions .

Remember, airline baggage fees can quickly add up! Always check your airline’s policies for checked luggage fees and size restrictions.

In conclusion, finding the first bag online with perfect suitcase size and capacity will not only save you from unexpected fees, but it’ll also make your travelling experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Material and Durability

Material and Durability

Choosing the right luggage material is crucial for ensuring it lasts during our travels. In this section, we’ll explore the pros and cons of hard-sided and soft-sided luggage, and help you make an informed decision for your next suitcase purchase.

Hard-sided Luggage

Hard-sided luggage, typically made from polycarbonate or ABS, is known for its durability and protection. These suitcases are more likely to withstand the rigours of travel and protect our belongings from damage. The solid exteriors make them ideal for carrying fragile items, while their sleek appearance adds a touch of sophistication to our travels.

While hard-sided luggage offers plenty of advantages, there are some downsides worth considering. These suitcases can be heavier than their soft-sided counterparts, which may affect our ability to pack more items without exceeding airline weight restrictions. Additionally, their rigid structure means they don’t have the flexibility to squeeze into tight overhead compartments or car boots.

Soft-sided Luggage

Soft-sided luggage is generally made from lightweight materials such as polyester, nylon, or ballistic nylon, and offers a more affordable option. Beyond the cost savings, these bags often weigh less than hard-sided cases, allowing us to pack more without worrying about extra fees at the airport.

As an added bonus, the flexible nature of soft-sided luggage means we can easily stash them in restricted spaces like overhead compartments on planes or under train seats.

However, it’s important to remember that soft-sided luggage tends to be less durable than hard-sided options. The lighter materials are more susceptible to wear and tear, which could lead to a shorter lifespan for our suitcase. Additionally, these soft bags provide less protection for our belongings, so they may not be the best choice if we’re travelling with fragile or valuable items.

Ultimately, the decision between hard-sided and soft-sided luggage comes down to our unique travel needs and preferences. Both materials have their pros and cons, so weighing up their strengths and weaknesses will help us make the best choice for our adventures.

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Wheels and Handles

Let’s talk about two essential components of any good luggage: wheels and handles. Trust us, you’ll be grateful to have considered these aspects when zooming through airports or bustling city streets.

Spinner Wheels

Spinner wheels are beloved by travellers everywhere! Why, you ask? Well, these little gems are designed with four 360-degree rotating wheels that make it a breeze to pack light manoeuvre your luggage.

With spinner wheels, you can glide through airports and hotels with ease, as they allow you to push, pull, or even spin your suitcase without breaking a sweat.We know from our own experience that doubling up the spinner with two wheels on each corner adds durability and stability. So, go ahead and give them a whirl – you won’t be disappointed.

Inline Skate Wheels

Have you ever wished your suitcase could be as easy to roll as a pair of inline skates? Well, the gods of luggage heard your prayers and bestowed upon us inline skate wheels.

These typically have two larger wheels, providing a smoother ride on rough surfaces – think cobbled streets in charming European cities. They often require the rolling suitcase to be pulled or pushed at a slight angle, but hey, one can’t have it all!

Which one to choose, inline skate wheels or spinner wheels? It really depends on your travel preferences, but keep in mind that, ultimately, no wheel is indestructible or immune to damage.

Telescopic Handles

Now, let’s be honest. Yanking around a suitcase is not exactly the highlight of travelling. That’s where telescopic handles come into play. These adjustable, retractable handles make it easy to customise the height to best suit your needs. No more stooping over like Gollum!

Remember to inspect the handle before purchasing. It should be sturdy, with little to no wiggling or rattling, and built to withstand the weight of your belongings. A durable, ergonomic handle might even make you feel like you’re tangoing with your suitcase, instead of wrestling it. And who doesn’t want that?

Now you’re well-versed in the world of wheels and handles! Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to tackle the next suitcase-shopping adventure – and glide effortlessly through your journey.

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Additional Features

As we explore the world of luggage, let’s dive into some noteworthy additional features that can make your travel experience even smoother. We’ll discuss expandability, TSA-approved locks, and organisational pockets in this section.


Ever find yourself in a situation where you bought one too many souvenirs and struggled to close your suitcase? Worry no longer – expandable luggage is here to save the day! These suitcases come with a handy zipper system that, when unzipped, provides extra packing space. So go ahead, indulge in that shopping spree without the fear of bursting your bag’s seams!

TSA-Approved Locks

Picture this: you’re travelling to the US, and your luggage is locked with a non-TSA-approved lock. A security agent needs to inspect your suitcase, but they can’t open it. They’re left with no choice but to break the lock, leaving your belongings unprotected. 

That’s where TSA-approved locks come in handy. These special locks have a unique mechanism that allows TSA agents to open your luggage using a master key, keeping your items secure and hassle-free during security checks.

Organisational Pockets

Admit it, we’ve all spent valuable vacation time rummaging through our luggage, trying to locate a specific item – only to find it hiding in the most unexpected corner. Thankfully, organisational pockets are here to save your sanity. These compartments, located inside and outside the suitcase, help to keep your belongings neat and tidy during your travels.

For example, some suitcases have dedicated spots for gadgets, chargers, and small accessories, making it a breeze to locate your necessities. We recommend checking out suitcases with this feature, as it can make your journey less stressful and more enjoyable.

Price and Budget

Price and Budget

Choosing the right travel luggage doesn’t have to break the bank. Indeed, what matters most is selecting a suitcase that meets our needs and is within our budget. In this section, we’ll share some tips to help you get cheap luggage and make the most of your hard-earned cash without sacrificing quality or style.

Firstly, let’s consider the wide range of suitcase prices. From the best budget luggage to more premium options, there’s a solution to suit every wallet. For instance, Target’s Made by Design luggage offers a great value for money, while Away’s The Carry-on provides a taste of luxury without blowing our budget.

When planning our suitcase buy luggage purchase, it’s essential to strike a balance between cost and durability. A more affordable option, like American Tourister, may still offer a decent warranty and reliability without emptying our pockets. Strolling through the airport with stylish luggage doesn’t have to result in a heart-wrenching credit card bill!

Did you know that sometimes, purchasing luggage sets can result in significant savings? Bundles including multiple suitcases can offer better value than buying individual bags separately. So if you’re a globetrotter or you’re shopping for the entire family, keep an eye out for appealing package deals.

Curious about when to bag the best deals on suitcases? Sales events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and end-of-season clearances can be excellent opportunities to snatch a bargain. Don’t forget to scout for online- or retailer-specific promotions, too!

In summary, selecting the perfect suitcase doesn’t mean relinquishing our financial wellbeing. With these tips in mind, we can confidently navigate the world of luggage while keeping our bank account afloat.

Top Luggage Brands

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When it comes to how to choose a suitcase and selecting the right luggage for your travels, one thing is certain: not all brands are created equal. So, allow us to introduce you to some of the top players in the market. Trust us, you’ll thank us later!

First on our list is Tumi, a sleek and sophisticated brand known for crafting durable and easy-to-maneuver suitcases. While their prices may be on the steeper side, they’re definitely worth the investment. After all, who wouldn’t want their luggage to glide effortlessly through those crowded airports?

Next up is Samsonite, a crowd favourite that consistently delivers reliable and high-quality luggage. With their range of travel companions, you can be certain to find a suitable pick for your adventures, all while keeping your hard-earned cash intact.

For those on a budget, fear not! We have a perfect option for you: American Tourister. This value-for-money brand won’t break the bank, yet still offers a variety of stylish and practical options to choose from. Plus, knowing that you’ve nabbed an excellent deal is bound to put a spring in your step!

If you’re a frequent flyer, you might be well-acquainted with the importance of a dependable carry-on. That’s where Away comes in, serving as a champion in the carry-on arena. These suitcases not only fit well within airline size restrictions but also provide you with optimal packing possibilities. Can you say “travel-savvy”?

Last but certainly not least, we have Calpak, the perfect choice for fashion-conscious jet-setters. Known for their eye-catching and Instagram-worthy designs, this brand ensures that you’ll be turning heads, from the check-in desks to your destination of choice.

There you have it, our top picks for luggage brands to consider when making that all-important decision. Remember, travelling in style doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be a delightful experience, thanks to the right piece of luggage by your side. So raise your travel game and make your fellow passengers green with envy!


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We often get asked various questions about choosing the ideal travel luggage. In the spirit of helping our readers, we’ve compiled a few of the frequently asked questions  and provided concise answers to ease your suitcase-selection dilemmas.

1. How do we determine the right size for our luggage?

Typically, carry-on bags should not exceed 22 inches, while checked bags should not surpass 62 inches. It’s essential to consider the size restrictions of both domestic and international airlines when purchasing luggage. Remember, a travel suitcase or two wheeled bags measuring 22″ x 9″ x 14″ or less can fit inside the overhead compartment of most airlines.

2. How important is water resistance for luggage?

We can’t stress this enough: water-resistant materials are vital when picking out luggage! A water-resistant sealant on the inside of designer luggage protects your belongings from getting soaked, whether due to rain or because of baggage handlers placing your bag on wet surfaces. We recommend looking for bags made of or treated with moisture-resistant materials.

3. What factors should we take into account when choosing between hardshell and softshell luggage?

From a durability standpoint, hardshell suitcases can usually withstand more abuse than their softshell counterparts. However, softshell luggage often provides more flexibility and exterior pockets, which may come in handy. Weigh the importance of protection against convenience and make the choice that suits your travel style best.

4. Are four-wheeled suitcases better than two-wheeled ones?

If you fancy a bit of smooth manoeuvring through airport crowds, four-wheeled suitcases—also known as spinner bags—are a popular option. However, some travellers find two-wheeled suitcases, or roller bags, easier to navigate over uneven surfaces. Reflect on the terrains you usually encounter while travelling and then choose luggage, accordingly.

Final Considerations

Final Considerations  suitcase

As we reach the end of our suitcase selection journey, let’s wrap up with some crucial points to ponder. It’s time to put our newfound knowledge into action and make that well-informed new luggage for choice!

Firstly, always keep durability and protection in mind. Opting for waterproof and stain-proof materials for soft shell luggage or a solid, hard shell is essential to ensure our belongings stay safe from the perils of travel. Remember the time Aunt Mabel’s antique vase didn’t survive the flight? We wouldn’t want that, would we?

Next, consider the ease of manoeuvrability. Trust us, there’s nothing more frustrating than wrestling with a stubborn suitcase in a crowded airport. Test the wheels and handles, and make sure they’re as smooth and cooperative as our favourite dance partner.

And finally, let us not forget the importance of size and weight restrictions. We suggest you double-check the airline’s guidelines and perhaps practise packing with our trusty bathroom scales! After all, no one enjoys paying excess baggage fees or trying to stuff their holiday wardrobe into a tiny enough overhead bin or locker. Been there, done that, got the crinkled t-shirt.

So there you have it, a few invaluable final considerations to muse over before taking the plunge and selecting our trusty travel companion. Now let’s get out there and explore the world – oh, and don’t forget to pack a spare pair of socks!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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