Travel and Luggage
How to Choose and Buy the Right Luggage
Today’s traveler has more options than ever before when it comes to selecting their luggage. Bags can cost anywhere from $30 to $900 or more; and range in size from small carry-ons to steamer trunks. How are you expected to know what kind of bag to buy? Through this article you’ll learn about the most popular types of luggage; how to protect your luggage; and perhaps most importantly, where to find the best deals when buying your luggage. First, we’ll start off by identifying the most popular luggage choices you will find. Duffel Bags These over-the-shoulder bags are probably the oldest form of luggage. At it’s most basic, this is simply a bag slung over the shoulder.
Of course, over time duffel bags have evolved, and many now have zippered pockets to provide for some organization. This type of bag may be ideal for short trips or for students packing between home and college. However, the soft exterior and lack of structural support are major drawbacks for any serious packing or traveling. Garment Bags These are very popular with the business crowd since they provide a way to hang suits and keep them flat. Most have an array of zippered pockets to help keep personal items organized.
Good quality garment bags also have additional latches to keep the bag shut when folded. However, because of their size, these bags very often need to be checked with the airline and are not allowed on the plane. This can be an inconvenience to the frequent traveler. Many people also mistakenly assume that hanging clothes in a garment bag will result in fewer wrinkles when it comes time to unpack. The truth is often just the opposite - tightly folding or rolling clothes is the best way to minimize wrinkles. Hard-sided Luggage Hard sides, typically built from hard polypropylene, are probably the best at keeping contents protected. When transporting fragile or breakable items, you can’t beat the safety offered from a hard outer casing and well-packed interior. They are extremely resistant to stains and leaks. However these containers are generally much heavier than other types of bags – some even weighing more when empty, than comparable soft-sided bags weigh when full. Also, when dropped or thrown, the corners of hard-sided bags can suffer dents or cracks, which can force the purchase of a new set of luggage.
Good, strong, large wheels become a necessity if serious consideration is given to hard-sided luggage. Soft-sided Luggage These are perhaps the most popular form of luggage today. A soft outer shell built on a sturdy metal or hard-plastic frame delivers most of the conveniences of hard-sided bags without all the extra weight. Some soft-sided luggage bags even have built-in expansion, in the form of a shell that can be zippered open. Durability of the outer fabric comes into play when looking at soft-sided bags. Polyester is less durable, but cheaper. Cordura or ballistic nylon will last longer and stand up to wear and tear far better, but costs a little more. Durability of the outer fabric is usually measured in “Denier”; the higher the denier, the stronger the fabric. When shopping for luggage, you will see that a number followed by a lower-case “d” usually represents Denier. For polyester, a minimum of 1000 denier is recommended; for ballistic nylon, a minimum of 1,800; and for Cordura, a minimum of 600.
Mobility The wheel was invented thousands of years ago; make sure you use it! Most luggage choices support wheels; even some duffel bags. This can be a great benefit when hauling luggage through an airport or on a trip. But not all wheels are created equal. In general, the larger the wheel, the easier it will be to maneuver. Small wheels tend to overheat and break down more rapidly than larger ones. Also, wheels with ball bearings will last much longer than those without. Look for bags that support a handle on the side as well as on the top. When picking bags up and storing them in cars, trunks, or overhead compartments, sometimes having an extra handle can make life much easier. And speaking of handles, collapsible handles are a definite advantage. If your luggage doesn’t have one, be sure to pack some pain relievers! Luggage with cloth or leather pull-straps is inherently difficult to guide and control.
Sturdy handles that can extend and retract at the push of a button make pulling that bag so much easier. For added convenience, make sure your handle has the collapsible button on the handle itself, not on the bag. One of the best, but often overlooked bits of advice, is to only take bags that you can lift by yourself. It does no good to cram everything for your trip into one gigantic suitcase, only to require three men to move it! It’s far better to pack multiple luggage bags that can be individually lifted and moved when needed. Many luggage items come in sets with attachable luggage pieces. This way you can pack multiple bags, but only need to wheel around one of them – the others stack right on top or down the front. Airlines Airlines have become more restrictive in recent years, in terms of carry-on luggage. In addition to a briefcase or purse, most will allow only one piece of luggage, no more than 9” x 16” x 22”. Most soft-sided rolling carry-ons are made to fit these dimensions but it’s still a good idea to check before you purchase.
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