Choosing the right luggage to suit you

by Jules on November 2, 2012

If you thought picking the right luggage to suit your needs was a straightforward affair, you might need to rethink.

In truth, you’ll probably only get away with selecting the cheapest suitcase, if you don’t travel that often, only pack unbreakable and lightweight things and are fine with all your things being thrown together as you travel. But, with more of us flying, that probably won’t apply to you.

It’s simply not worth choosing something that doesn’t perform well over an extended period of time.

But with so many suitcases and bags on the market, the sheer choice can seem overwhelming.

Here are some of the things to think about:

  • Handles: It may sound obvious, but ensure that the handle on the case you choose is long enough. If not, you could be veering to the side as you walk through the airport. A good travel bag will also have a handle which locks down so that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.

Another tip: if you lift your packed suitcase using the smaller grip handles rather than the pull handle, you will lengthen the life of your luggage. Ideally, try and go for a model with two grip handles.

  • Wheels: Some veteran travellers simply wouldn’t leave home without having at least one wheeled bag in their luggage. Consider having one case with wheels and stacking other, smaller bags on top of it. You’ll be fully mobile and won’t need to spend time looking for that elusive luggage trolley in the departures hall. Recessed wheels are less likely to get damaged, while many experienced fliers swear by bigger, rubberised wheels which, similar to inline skates, have ball-bearings for added longevity and performance.

Some rolling bags also have hooks which allow you to carry an extra bag. This can be very helpful and you can even carry a couple of additional luggage items, one on the hook and one over the extended handle. The one on the hook will act as a counterweight, lightening the downward pressure on the handle.

  • Outer shell: Choose from three distinct kinds: hard or soft-sided and semi-soft sided.

Of course, soft-sided is the best material for hand luggage as it’s lightweight and expandable, but you should consider the vulnerability of your bag’s contents if you are checking in the case into the hold.

A hard outer shell can give your belongings extra protection, but, equally, can also be heavier, and it can be trickier to fit these bags into a confined space like an overhead cabin locker or a car boot.

Partially framed semi-soft cases with expandable tops and bottoms often give the traveller the best of all worlds, with good protection and a lighter weight than hard-sided bags.

  • Zippers: You may not previously have given these much thought when buying bags and other travel accessories, but they’re more important than you realised! Newer, synthetic zippers made from coils can even self-repair when the slide is moved across the teeth. This can be a life-saver when you’re in a hurry and all your stuff is falling out everywhere.
  • Pockets: It can be easy to forget how having several pockets on your case, inside and out, can be. Waterproof pockets are ideal for damp gym kit or swimwear.

Check the warranty on anything you buy and make sure you go for durable quality giving you the best-overall value.

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