If you’ve carried that duffel bag with your fraternity’s logo on it to the convention your boss sent you too, it’s time to upgrade your luggage and stop embarrassing yourself. But buying luggage can be completely confusing. What do you really need? What is the most durable? Why is luggage so expensive? What’s the best bag to bring to the airport? Is all of this TSA compliant?
Most people only need three pieces of luggage. And while you don’t have to buy the most expensive luggage on the market (and you shouldn’t because airlines tend to treat your checked bags the way the Post Office handles any package with a giant “Fragile” sticker on it), anything that is cheaply made is a waste of cash because it will fall apart. The one time I checked a cheap duffel bag, I was not happy to discover it completely ripped by the time it got to baggage claim. I was lucky I didn’t lose any of my clothes.
However, you don’t have to pay top dollar for good quality. Flash sales like Gilt and Groupon Goods as well as regular sales from department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom can save you hundreds of dollars.
Because good luggage doesn’t come cheap, not everyone wants or is able to commit to an entire set at once. That’s okay; just buy everything in black, so it matches. If you buy a unique color like bright orange, be forewarned, it might be discontinued at some point. That being said, if you are buying multiple pieces at the same time, try to choose a color other than black because your luggage will be easier to identify at the baggage claim.
The Weekender on Wheels
A smaller suitcase with wheels is absolutely essential for short trips. Paying extra to check your luggage and waiting for it at baggage claim is a double whammy. And don’t kid yourself, there’s always the risk of losing luggage. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoid checking your bags.
In terms of size, bigger is better. I recommend buying the largest size permitted by the TSA, which is 45 linear inches (total of height, width and depth). Don’t buy anything smaller because you will kick yourself the one time you can’t fit in an extra pair of shoes. However, keep in mind that every airline has its own rules. Worst-case scenario: They will make you check it at the gate, which is usually free.
If you prefer a duffel bag to a traditional style suitcase, check out Tumi’s Extra Large Wheeled Split Duffel, which is as practical for weekend car trips as it is for air travel. Herschel makes luggage and accessories that are stylish, unique, and wallet friendly, like this Small Rolling Shell Hard Suitcase, which will make you the coolest passenger on the plane.
The Big Suitcase
Again, size matters. Buy the largest one you can. Make sure it has wheels (most luggage today does) and the handle is easy to grip and retract.
Made of durable, three ply canvas with a leather trim, T. Anthony’s 32-inch Wheeled Wardrobe case has four wheels and is chock-full of interior and exterior pockets. The company also offers complementary engraving, which is just so snazzy.
Victorinox has a 32-inch suitcase in its Spectra line that’s equally durable and attractive. Bonus: It has a great ten-year limited warranty.
The Garment Suitcase
While most would suggest a mid-sized suitcase, a garment bag is a far wiser purchase. It’s ideal for business trips and traveling with a companion, whom you are sharing luggage with. Trust me, your significant other will thank you for it.
If you are going for something sophisticated yet practical, you will love Brics’ 40-inch Wheeled Garment bag. Looking for something economically priced and carry-on friendly? Check out Samsonite’s Wheeled Garment bag.
If you travel a lot and have tend to over pack, invest in a portable luggage scale. It’s a pocket-sized gadget with a little hook on the end you attach to the handle on your suitcase. I personally have this one from Victorinox and I never leave for the airport without using it first.