Learning how to choose luggage can mean the difference between a leisurely trip and a stressful ordeal.

The good news is that there are more types of luggage and suitcases than ever before. And improvements in materials being used means they are lightweight and sturdy. But whenever you have lots of choices, you can begin to second guess your decisions. That's where we hope to help. You can probably find the perfect bags for your situation. But first you need to define what your situation is. Do you fly often? Are you big on long trips abroad? Determining what type of traveler you are is an important first step in learning how to choose luggage.

We'll provide several other pointers throughout this tutorial. Because once you've got the right bags set, you can devote more time to the fun stuff. After all, planning business trips and vacations can be tough enough. Worrying about what and how to pack shouldn't add to your stress.

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Credit: Flickr, larsjuh


A Bit About Choosing Luggage

From backpacks and duffel bags to huge rolling suitcases, there is a lot of luggage out there. If you've spent much time shopping for them online or in stores, you've probably seen the selection.


Even though some of these products might look interchangeable, there are some key differences. You'll want to look at factors like style, quality and size before deciding on your next luggage. There are several reasons that learning how to choose luggage can be beneficial. So always make sure it fits your stuff and your needs before you set off on your next adventure.

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Why Is Choosing the Right Luggage Important?

If you've ever taken the wrong luggage on a trip, you already understand the importance. For the lucky travelers who haven't we hope to save you the headache. As you know, whatever you take on your trip with you is all you'll have till you get home. And that can be a lot of pressure.

So your luggage is a bit like the only shelter your belongings will have during transit. Whether you're driving, riding, flying or cruising, you want to make sure your stuff is safe. And then when you arrive at your destination, you want to find that same stuff just as you packed it. The only way to make sure you can achieve those goals is by learning how to choose luggage.

What Types of Luggage Are Available? 

From old fashioned suitcases to space age high tech wonders, there's luggage for every traveler. Whether you want something to beat up or you prefer to travel in luxury, you can find the perfect piece. Here are a few of the major choices you'll find in your search.

  • Hard shell vs. soft shell. The polycarbonate surface of hard shell suitcases give you a bit more protection. But the soft shell fabrics are sometimes more luxurious and visually appealing.
  • Ready to roll? It might seem weird to those of us who prefer wheels on our luggage, but some folks like to tote. And whatever your preference, there's something out there for you.
  • Keep it simple (or not). From the basic bag to a complex, state of the art product, luggage comes in all styles. And so do travelers. So decide whether you want simple elegance or high tech gadgets. Or maybe something occupying that sweet spot in the middle is more your style.

How to Choose Luggage in a Few Simple Steps

Now let's get down to brass tacks. We think that following the steps below will put you on the right track for the perfect suitcase. Be honest with yourself and what you're looking for, and find the product that suits your needs.

1. Keep a close eye on the important details.

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Mx. Granger

For most travelers, quality and reliability are among the most important features. No matter what else you're looking for in your luggage, you want it to last. And there are a few ways that you can tell whether a piece you like will pass that test.

First of all, pay attention to the small things. We suggest starting with the zipper. There are several types, including some with attached locks and other features. But whatever it looks like, you can tell a lot by giving it a tug. Does it move along its track with no resistance? Is everything secure in its housing? Is it attractive and comfortable to the touch? You'll be using the zipper often, so make sure it's up to par. And if it is, chances are the rest of the luggage will be excellent, too.

But don't stop there. Check for uneven or loose stitching. Open up the suitcase and check out the inner compartments. Don't forget to check zippers and other latches that might be in there. If it has wheels, make sure they roll smoothly and turn with control and precision.

2. Choose between a coordinated or eclectic set.

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There are some beautiful sets of luggage out there. It's easy to find a matching group of hard sided bags or designer cloth suitcases. Maybe you like the design or a particular color. But if you see something that really catches your eye, that's a good sign to look further.

Or maybe you don't want a matching set at all. There's certainly no rule in learning how to choose luggage that says it has to match. You could let each person in your group or family pick out their own bags. It possibly makes sense to pick up any high quality bag you think might come in handy. That way you can put together the perfect group of suitcases for any trip you plan.

But one thing we would recommend is that you make your luggage distinct in some way. Especially if you fly frequently, this will allow you to find your bags easier. This could be something you add later that you will be able to spot at first glance. Or it might be the distinct color or pattern you choose for your luggage.

3. Decide what you want to protect most.

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Andrew Currie

There are some really innovative suitcases out there. But learning how to choose luggage means you'll find that they provide different features. If you love your tech gadgets, you might want a more rigid case. Taking lots of clothes? There are suitcases that will keep your outfits pressed to perfection.

But there aren't many suitcases that can claim to do it all. So be realistic about what is most important to you on a trip. Search for bags that offer the right sized compartments and interior dividers. The days of cavernous trunks are over. Now luggage makers are going for convenience and comfort. Most luxury luggage sets come with tie down straps built into the interior. That will help keep things secure during your trip. But there are other more specialized designs that can provide additional peace of mind. If you're taking along valuables or fragile items, make sure your luggage is designed to protect them.

The diversity among luggage styles is a great thing for travelers. If you go into your search with a list of things you're likely to take with you, it's easier. You can search the specifications and make sure everything you need will fit. Not only that, you can ensure it will all be packed away securely. 

4. Focus on the features.

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There are a lot of additional features and functions that can make a suitcase stand out. But not all accessories are created equal. So if you're looking for luggage with wheels, charging stations or any other gadget, do your homework. Make sure others with the same set have had good experiences.

The last thing you want is to realize after it's too late that a critical feature has failed. So spend the time (and possibly money) to select luggage that will stand up to travel conditions. In addition to overall durability, you should look for a number of clever features. Only go for the accessories you'll actually use, but there are numerous possibilities. In addition to the telescoping handles many bags have, look for additional handles on the side. These should be sturdy and comfortable to grab. You already know to check for interior compartments. But some bags also expand to hold even more than you might think. And some luggage will come with locks or other security features built right in.

Another thing to consider is the space your bags occupy -- especially if you're looking for carry-on luggage. Some airlines are particularly strict about the sizes they allow in those overhead compartments. And international flights might have different standards than domestic ones.


Learning how to choose luggage starts with looking at your own travel habits.

Fortunately, there are tons of options out there. And we hope our guide will help you find the perfect bags.


If you enjoyed our tutorial, share it with the travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.

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