Luggage Buyer’s Guide 2023
Whether you’d consider yourself a well-seasoned traveler or simply enjoy the occasional vacation, having a set of quality luggage is a must. From carry-on bags to large suitcases and every luggage type in between, having the right baggage can help you make the most out of every trip.
Still, with so many luggage brands and styles of baggage on the market, shopping for a new set can seem a bit daunting. If you’re even thinking about buying a piece of new luggage set in the near future, you’ll want to know what to look for so you can end up with luggage that will suit your needs, style, and budget. From there, you can enjoy using your new luggage for many years to come.
Signs You Need New Luggage
If you already have a luggage set that you’ve been using for years, the thought of replacing it may seem like a pain. At the same time, when you’re carrying around old luggage that’s no longer serving your needs, your vacations could suffer as a result. Old and worn-out baggage may be more prone to damage when being handled at the airport, for example.
Not sure whether your luggage is in need of replacement? There are a few warning signs to watch out for.
It’s No Longer Functional
If your luggage has become physically worn-out over time, you’ll definitely want to replace it. Perhaps there are tears on the canvas of your soft-sided suitcase, or maybe some of the zipper compartments on your carry-on have become damaged. Either way, you deserve a fully intact and functional bag for your travels.
Some minor issues may be able to be repaired, such as a broken zipper. You may want to check and see if your bag is under any type of warranty if this is the case. However, more major issues such as dents and tears will likely warrant total replacement. The last thing you need is for a tear in your checked bag to result in lost belongings, or for a broken zipper to make you more prone to pick-pocketing on your travels. Simply put, if your bag is damaged to the point where it cannot be easily repaired, it’s time for a replacement.
It’s Costing You Money
If you have older luggage, there’s a good chance it doesn’t conform to today’s airport size allowances. This is especially likely for carry-on luggage, the size allowances of which can vary from one airline to the next. In most cases, checked bags should not exceed about 62 linear inches in size—so if your current luggage is larger, it could actually be costing you more money on your trips in the form of excess/oversized baggage fees.
The same applies to carry-ons that are too large and cannot be easily stowed in overhead bins. You may end up needing to check your carry-on instead (and pay any applicable fees) as a result. If this has happened to you while traveling, then it may be time to upgrade your baggage to some that conform to today’s airline size requirements.
It Doesn’t Meet Your Packing Needs
When it comes time to pack for a trip, do you find yourself frustrated by the lack of storage space or other features offered by your current luggage? If so, then it’s time to consider treating yourself to a new luggage set. The right luggage should help you maximize the amount you’re able to pack while keeping you organized, but if your current baggage is lacking in storage compartments and other features to make your life easier, then you could be facing a lot of unnecessary frustration when you travel.
Its Style is Outdated
That “trendy” pattern you loved when you bought your current luggage set might be considered gaudy or outdated by now; if this is the case, and if you feel embarrassed by your luggage every time you travel, then it’s definitely time for an upgrade. When you travel, you spend a lot of time being seen with your luggage (especially at the airport), so make sure you can feel confident and stylish with what you’ll be carrying. This time around, you might want to consider choosing a luggage style that is more timeless and classic; this way, you won’t have to worry about it going out-of-style and needing to replace it again.
Why You Need a Quality Luggage Set
When you buy the right luggage, it should easily last you for several years. Of course, the longevity will vary depending on how often you travel and how rigorous your traveling is. As you’re shopping for a new luggage set, opting for a quality set will ensure that you get the longest possible lifespan out of your baggage and thus the most use for your money.
There are many other ways in which a quality luggage set can make your life (and more specifically, your travels) so much easier and more enjoyable.
When you’ve just settled into your hotel after a long flight, the last thing you want is to have to rummage through your suitcase to find your toiletries, phone charger, or other essentials. The right luggage should make it easy for you to stay organized so you know exactly where everything is. Ideally, this should mean your luggage comes with numerous storage compartments for things like toiletries, electronics, accessories, and even shoes. When your belongings are neatly organized, you can enjoy less stress as you settle in for your travels.
Not all luggage is created equal. Even suitcases that measure the exact same dimensions can vary wildly in terms of how much they can store. That’s because some baggage is simply designed with space optimization in mind, while some are not. The right luggage will help you pack everything you need for your trip in as few bags as possible while still leaving some room for you to bring home a few souvenirs.
Protect Your Belongings
Old luggage with busted zippers and other physical damage can put your belongings at-risk. This is especially true of checked suitcases, which are not often handled with the utmost of care by airport baggage staff. The right luggage should be durable enough to withstand even the roughest of handling and offer security features that protect you from theft and pick-pockets during your travels.
Consider, for example, luggage with YYK zipper pulls, which are thought to be the most durable available. Some luggage may also come with TSA-approved locks for added security.
Get Around Easier
Today’s luggage is designed with the frequent traveler in mind. As a result, you’ll find that quality luggage for business travel makes it easier not only to get around the airport, but to get around your destination as well. Features such as telescoping handles, free-spinning luggage wheels, and ergonomic shoulder straps can make all the difference in hauling your baggage from point A to point B. This will really come in handy when you’re trying to make your way through a crowded airport terminal or onto a busy subway at your destination.
Different Types of Luggage To Consider
As you begin shopping for new luggage, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is that there are many different types of luggage available. The sheer number of choices can make the process seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the main types of luggage and the options available for each type, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks of each, you can ultimately determine which types of luggage are best suited for your travel needs.
When you fly, almost all airlines allow you to bring aboard at least one “carry-on” bag. This is a bag that you do not have to check and are able to have with you during your flight. These bags tend to be smaller in size and are great for carrying some essentials that you don’t want to part with, such as your electronic devices, chargers, and prescription medications.
Airlines can vary in their carry-on allowances, especially when it comes to the allowed size and weight. However, most major airlines allow carry-ons with dimensions of up to 22″ x 14″ x 9″. These measurements typically include any wheels, handles, or other accessories on the bag itself.
Carry-on bags come in a wide range of styles, including backpacks, duffel bags, and even small roller suitcases. The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a carry-on bag is that it needs to be small enough to conform to airline regulations for carry-on sizing and it should be easy to haul around. A great carry-on bag will also have plenty of practical storage compartments and be lightweight enough to easily stow in an overhead bin if needed.
Carry-on luggage can also serve a dual purpose of being your go-to travel bag once you arrive at your destination. For example, if you know you’ll be away from your hotel room for most of the day, you can use your carry-on to bring a change of clothes and some essentials, such as a phone charger and deodorant.
In addition to a standard carry-on bag, most airlines also allow passengers to bring a personal item aboard the plane. A personal bag is smaller than a standard carry-on and usually equates to something like a purse, handbag, briefcase, or laptop bag. This is a great type of luggage to have for storing the items you know you’ll need to access while on the plane, such as your phone, snacks, prescription medications, and chargers.
Personal luggage should be small enough that it can be stowed underneath the seat in front of you while flying. In most cases, airlines don’t have a posted size limit for personal items, but some do so it might make sense to look for luggage for international travel.
Perhaps the most important luggage purchase you’ll make is that of your checked baggage, which is what you’ll be using to pack the majority of your belongings. All airlines have restrictions when it comes to how much luggage you can check and what the size/weight dimensions should be, so you’ll definitely want to keep these in mind as you shop. In most cases, 62 linear inches seems to be the industry standard for checked luggage sizing. This measurement should include any handles, wheels, or other accessories on your bag.
Checked luggage comes in a wide range of options. Suitcases with telescoping handles and wheels are among the most popular due to their ease of maneuverability. These rolling suitcases come in both hard- and soft-sided options; however, hard-sided tends to be the best choice for checked baggage due to the added durability.
What About a Luggage Set?
If you’re shopping for luggage and looking to get the best value for your money, you may want to look into purchasing a luggage set rather than buying baggage pieces individually. A luggage set will generally come with at least one larger suitcase to be used as a checked bag, a carry-on bag, and possibly even a personal bag. What’s included with a luggage set can vary from one company to the next, but you can save a pretty penny by purchasing a full set and enjoy the added convenience of having matching/coordinating pieces.
What To Keep In Mind While Shopping For Luggage
Now that you have a better idea of the types of luggage available, it’s time to start shopping. Still feeling overwhelmed? Keep these important considerations in mind as you begin shopping to help narrow down your options and buy with greater confidence.
Where You’ll Store It
If storage space is limited in your home, don’t overlook this as you shop for luggage. You’ll want to make sure you have the space to store any suitcases or other baggage, or that you can put it into a storage unit when not in use. If space is really limited, this is where choosing a luggage set can come in handy. Often times, these sets are designed so that the smaller bags can be stored inside the larger one, thus cutting down on the amount of closet space you’ll need to sacrifice when the luggage isn’t in use.
Size Preferences and Requirements
If you travel fairly regularly, then you probably have a pretty good idea of how much space you need to pack your essentials. Keep this in mind as you shop for new luggage, making sure you purchase baggage that’s large enough to accommodate all your belongings for a trip while still leaving some space to bring home souvenirs.
At the same time, you’ll also want to keep airline size restrictions in mind as you shop. Larger suitcases will obviously store more, but they may be too large to be checked on some airlines without facing hefty oversized/overweight baggage fees. The same applies to luggage that you intend to use as a carry-on; if the bag is too large to fit in an overhead bin, you may be required to check it and pay any applicable fees.
Shopping for luggage online can be useful here because luggage companies will have the exact dimensions of each bag posted for you. This saves you the hassle of having to measure for yourself and can make shopping easier.
Ease of Cleaning/Stain-Resistance
Over time, your luggage is going to accumulate some dings, dents, and stains. That’s just a part of life when you travel. Still, choosing luggage that’s easy to clean or resistant to stains and damage in the first place can help to prolong the life of your luggage and make your life easier.
When shopping for checked baggage, for example, selecting a hard-sided suitcase can be wise because these bags tend to be handled the roughest. A hard-sided bag will be resistant to damage and will also be easy to clean as needed. With most hard-sided bags, all you need to do is wipe down the exterior of the bag to remove stains. For stubborn scuffs, a magic eraser can often do the trick as well.
Materials and Long-Term Durability
When you purchase new luggage, of course you want it to last for many years to come. This is where being picky about the types of materials used on your luggage will make all the difference. Yes, you may be able to save some money by opting for a cheaper, soft-sided luggage set that’s made out of canvas or a similar material. And if you don’t do a lot of traveling, maybe this is the best option for you.
However, if you’re truly shopping for luggage with long-term durability in mind, you’ll want to be a little more picky about the materials used. For example, while a leather suitcase may look nice, it’s probably not the smartest decision from a durability standpoint, as leather can be prone to tears and discoloration.
The durability of your luggage accessories is also important. Look for features such as reinforced stitching, YKK zippers, and the like for added peace of mind.
Storage Capacity and Compartments
At the end of the day, luggage is really only as good as its storage capacity. If you can’t fit everything you need in your suitcase and have it stay easily organized, your trip will get off on the wrong foot the moment you arrive at your destination and have trouble locating something you packed in your luggage.
As you shop, be on the lookout for baggage that makes the best use of space. Sometimes, a larger suitcase actually won’t hold as much as a smaller suitcase if space isn’t used wisely.
In terms of storage compartments, look for things like exterior zipper pockets that will make it easier to access essentials when you need them. Inside your suitcase, water-proof storage compartments can come in handy for packing away wet swimsuits without getting anything else in your bag wet.
Maneuverability and Useful Features
You’ll probably be doing a fair amount of hauling your luggage around airports, subway terminals, and other spaces if you do a fair amount of traveling. With this in mind, it’s important to find luggage that will make getting around with your luggage as easy as possible. One of the best features to look for in terms of maneuverability is that of telescoping handles and wheels, which will make it easy to roll your suitcase behind you rather than carrying it outright.
Not all rolling suitcases are created equal, however. For maximum maneuverability, look for ones with free-spinning wheels, which will make it possible to roll your bag in any direction smoothly and easily. For smaller bags, such as carry-ons, look for features like padded ergonomic shoulder straps.
Brand Reputation and Warranty
With so many luggage brands out there, it can be difficult to know which to trust with your hard-earned money. There are luggage for men and luggage for women so take time to research luggage brands and check out real customer reviews. This will help you get a better idea as to the quality of the products and the customer service offered as well.
When shopping for luggage, it’s also a good idea to see if the company you’re considering offers any kind of warranty with their product. Buying luggage that comes with a warranty can give you added peace of mind and confidence. Just be sure to find out exactly what’s included in a luggage warranty versus what may not be included. For example, many companies will not warranty against damage done by baggage handlers at the airport.
Security Features to Protect Your Belongings
Some luggage comes with security features to better protect your belongings, such as luggage locks. If you’re looking for baggage that comes with locks, make sure they’re TSA-approved. Otherwise, TSA agents may need to cut off your locks when you go through security at the airport, which will defeat the purpose of having them in the first place. With a TSA-approved lock, only you and a TSA agent will be able to open the lock. This can give you added peace of mind when you travel.
For carry-on bags, look for durable materials and security features that will make the bag resistant to theft and/or pick-pocketing. This can include not only locks, but slash-proof materials as well.
Ready to Shop for Luggage?
With so much to keep in mind as you shop for new luggage, it’s easy to see why taking your time and doing plenty of research is so important. After all, the right luggage should last you for many years to come. With this in mind, it’s often worth spending a little bit more on a quality set of luggage to get all the features you want and need.
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