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Must Have Travel Items: Choosing the Best Luggage

A major factor in the success of your travels could easily be the suitcase that you bring along for the ride.  Suitcases and travel luggage come in many different sizes, shapes, weights, materials, colors, prices and quality.  Whether you travel for business or pleasure, the right suitcase/luggage is a worthwhile investment that does not need to break the bank.

Before buying a suitcase, you should take the following important factors into consideration:

  1. Airlines are charging more for checked luggage, so you might want to bring carry on luggage instead of paying a baggage fee for checked luggage – this obviously depends on how long you will be away and where you are travelling.
  2. Some airlines have very strict weight limitations for checked luggage and will charge steep overweight fees.  So buy light-weight luggage.  I also recommend buying a luggage scale and weighing your packed suitcase before going to the airport.
  3. Some airlines have strict size limitations for carry on and checked luggage.  So it is wise to check your airline’s luggage policy prior to purchasing checked luggage or carry on options.
  4. In addition, some airlines already charge, or will start charging, for carry on bags.  Depending on how much you travel, you might look into getting an airline-specific credit card.  These credit cards generally provide travelers with free checked baggage when tickets are bought with their specific credit card – the approximate $50-$100 yearly credit card membership fee might pay for itself in the long run.  Check out for a basic lesson, comparison and explanation of airline/mileage rewards credit card options.

Next, it is important to realize that you basically have two options when you travel.

OPTION 1:  What type of suitcase should I buy (duffel bag, upright rolling luggage or hardside luggage) if I am checking luggage?

Rolling Duffel Bags:

We are serious fans of rolling duffel bags for a few reasons.  My 7-year-old could wheel his own medium-sized duffel bag during our international travels without our help (for those layovers where we had to collect our checked luggage).  Rolling duffel bags are also more “flexible” and “moldable” when trying to fit two or more suitcases in the trunk of a small European rental car.

  1. Delsey Helium Fusion 3.0 Duffel Bag – This is a large bag and would be great for longer trips.  The wheels, handles, zipper, outside material and inside compartment are consistently ranked as “excellent” by bloggers and travelers.
  2. Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Wheeled Duffel 28" – This wheeled duffel has been described as very roomy and tough.  It is geared for activity and demanding travel conditions.  It also has great pockets for organizational purposes.

TIP:  Purchase a Travelon Bag Bungee so that you can attach your coat, 2nd bag or other item to your wheeled duffel bag.

Upright Rolling Suitcase:

The upright rolling suitcase is also a “checked bag” option.  Many have great design elements that take into consideration weight, size, durability and maneuverability – and based on many reviews, a few of these upright suitcases seem to exceed traveler expectations:

  1. Victorinox Luggage Wt 27 Dual-Caster Suitcase -- This wheeled upright is spacious and expandable and has super control while rolling (with eight dual-caster wheels).  The main storage area features a hanging zippered compartment and a removable garment bag.  If you are fond of pink luggage or purple luggage, you are in luck because this suitcase comes in cute color options, along with more traditional colors.
  2. Briggs & Riley Transcend Expandable 24” -- A suitcase with a lifetime warranty on repairs speaks volumes.  This bag has four recessed double swivel wheels for easy navigation.  It is also light and roomy, with a zip-around expansion increasing the packing capacity by 20 percent.
  3. IT Luggage World's Lightest Second Generation 27" 2 Wheeled Upright -- The name says a lot...this bag is made from high-density polyester and a fiberglass frame making it strong but light weight.  The ball-bearing wheels are smooth and the inside is lined with internal pockets for organization.  The color selection is spectacular, as well. (Think pink)!

Hardside Luggage:

Honestly I am not convinced that hardside luggage is the way to go – unless you must protect something really delicate/valuable -- or you are a serious hipster!  Some of the  top Internet picks for hardside luggage include the following:

1) Tumi Luggage Tegra-Lite Medium Trip Packing Case – This lightweight, hardside case is ideal for longer trips and combines durability and maneuverability.  The roomy interior is lined and features accessory pockets, tie-down straps, TSA-integrated locks, a bottom grab handle and exterior bumpers for added protection.
2) Samsonite Luggage Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner 28 – This extremely lightweight and durable spinner features 100 percent polycarbonate construction that is made to absorb impact.  The fully-lined interior has cross-straps, an interior divider with pockets and a mounted, TSA-approved combination lock.


OPTION 2:  What is the best carry on luggage when I don’t need to check a larger bag?

Best Carry On Luggage:
As a former IT consultant who travelled for two to five days at a time, I respect the beauty of a brilliant carry on bag.  The following carry on bags have received high accolades all over the WWW.  Below are a few of the best carry on luggage options:

1) Briggs & Riley Explore 19" Upright -- At under 7 pounds, this is one of the lightest, wheeled, upright carryons on the market with lots of interior space.  Several extra zippered pockets create extra packing capacity.  Travelers attest that they can pack for five days due to the soft-sided quality and compression straps on the outside that cinch down the contents and streamline the bag.
2) Osprey Meridian 22" -- This rolling backpack has a spacious main compartment, organizational pockets and a removable daypack.  Other features include padding, ventilation, hip belt and an excellent warranty (limited lifetime).
3) Lipault 22" 2-Wheeled Foldable Carry On -- Travelers love that this bag holds enough for 4 days and is collapsible.  It is also light-weight enough to easily store in the overhead bins of most aircrafts.  We love the hot pink, electric blue and fun purple options.
4) Samsonite Hyperspace 21.5" Carry-On Spinner -- The fabric, frame and dual spinner wheels (8 in total) make this carry on a great investment.  Travelers appreciate the smart design elements -- great stability, an ergonomic upright handle and the expandability feature.  It also comes with a small removable bag for organization, dirty clothes or extra shopping!
5) IT Luggage World's Lightest 22 " Carry On – Made with a fiberglass frame and sturdy polyester material (in LOTS of sassy and traditional colors), this ultra-light carry on is hard to beat for the money.  The ball-bearing wheels are connected directly to the frame for a smooth ride.  And travelers rave about the compartment size and weight when completely filled to capacity.


TIP:  If your child is flying on a paid ticket, they are eligible to bring a carry on plus a purse or briefcase, as well (on most airlines).  Why not pack all their clothes (kid clothes are smaller) in a carry on and save money on a checked suitcase?  Many light weight carryons are manageable for kids over six.

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