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If you’re wondering how to choose the best luggage for travel, find out the three things to consider with our easy-to-use buying guide.
Shopping for the Best Luggage for Travel
Written by: Kelly Ella Maz
The best luggage for travel is strong enough to make it through baggage handlers and good looking enough to be pulled around international airport terminals. Durability, function, and size are the specifics you should consider before buying.
The biggest difference between types of luggage is the material it’s made of. The material can affect the durability, appearance, and cost. Deciding which factors are most important for your style of travel will narrow down the best luggage for travel for you!
When deciding how to choose the best luggage for travel, there are three m’s to consider:
Wondering how to choose the best luggage for travel? Start with the number of wheels. Don’t make this choice solely based on how the luggage rolls in the store; consider the environment you’ll be traveling in. For most people, everywhere you go isn’t going to have smooth airport floors!
Four wheels glide the easiest through airports and train stations. Being able to push your suitcase (versus pulling it behind you) is a lot easier on your body, especially when your bag is heavy! If you’re really worried about extra weight, it’s worth noting that a four-wheeled suitcase will weigh slightly more than a two-wheeled suitcase.
Two-wheeled cases are not as easy to pull through airports as four-wheeled ones, but they are significantly easier to navigate on cobblestone roads. If you do a lot of Europe travel, you may want to consider sticking with the traditional two wheels.
Bags without wheels are great for those who travel with significantly smaller suitcases or those looking for weekender bags. If a duffle bag is all you need, getting one without wheels will save on your overall luggage weight.
Alternatively, if you like this style but need wheels, check out these rolling duffle bags that make great alternatives to travel backpacks!
I learned a tough lesson when I assumed bigger was better when it came to checked luggage! I thought a 30” suitcase would be perfect for bringing eight pairs of shoes and endless bikinis. But it turns out I wasn’t able to lift my suitcase off the baggage carousel!
In addition, even with four wheels, it was really hard for my 5’1” body to push this suitcase around. The best luggage for travel is the one that you can carry comfortably!
Tired of overpacking? Read our ultimate guide on carry-on bags only.
This size is great for travelers who want to jetset with carry-on only. Using smart packing techniques and organizers like those shown in this video tutorial, you can travel carry-on for any destination or trip length. We definitely think this is one of the best luggage for travel.
These are the perfect size for people who need to check a bag. The ideal height for someone using this size luggage would be over 5’4”. The suitcase will reach to your mid-thigh, which is the optimal height for easy mobility.
Larger suitcases are best left for people who are 6’ or taller and specifically need to pack a larger quantity of items. The handle will be at the right spot for you to comfortably pull it around the airport. Many women will find this size to be overwhelming, especially if you’re traveling alone.
The best luggage for travel that’s carryon sized:
- Carry-on Suitcases We Absolutely Love
- Non-boring Carry-on Suitcase Designs
- Best Carry-on Suitcases for Europe
- Carry-on Personal Item Options
- The Best In-flight Travel Purse
Another question you’ll be faced when determining how to choose the best luggage for travel is the luggage material. Different materials are more durable than others, some are waterproof, and some are lightweight. You’ll want to evaluate which matters most to you.
The hard sides of polycarbonate luggage prevents the suitcase from caving in, which protects your belongings. The major downside to “hard” luggage is that it scratches easily and occasionally cracks. Many travelers consider polycarbonate hard suitcases the best type of luggage because it’s lightweight.
Nylon fabric is both strong and lightweight, making it the most durable option. Nylon also has more “give,” allowing you to squeeze in that extra pair of shoes. Some nylon suitcases are made from the same technology used in military gear, so you know your stuff will be safe!
Polyester fabric is the cheapest and least durable. You can usually find these suitcases on sale in a local mall, but they won’t last very long. If you’ve ever seen how luggage gets handled at an Italian airport, you won’t be buying a polyester suitcase. Let’s just say, most of the best luggage for travel isn’t made from polyester.
Still undecided? Here’s a quick review of the best luggage for travel:
FOUR WHEELSDelsey’s Helium Aero Spinner is a great four-wheel suitcase that will glide easily through any terminal.
18"-22” SUITCASEDelsey offers stylish and cost-effective luggage. The Chatelet spinner style is gorgeous!
POLYCARBONATEDelsey Helium Titanium is a popular choice for polycarbonate luggage.
TWO WHEELSTumi Alpha 2 Continental is a durable choice, guaranteed to last through any uneven terrain.
24"-27” SUITCASESamsonite’s Omni is the perfect height and size for average-height travelers.
NYLONFor nylon, the Samsonite Pro is what some call the best luggage for travel .
NO WHEELSThe Briggs & Riley BRX Duffle is a fantastic choice for a travel duffel bag that will save on your overall luggage weight.
28"-30” SUITCASEThe Victorinox Avolve 2.0 is a great choice for tall travelers who need ample space!
POYESTEReBags TLS Mother Lode an example of an affordable and popular polyester suitcase.
Tips on How to Choose the Best Luggage for Travel
It’s not easy knowing how to choose the best luggage for travel. Along with our tips we’ve covered so far, here are a few more to help you make your decision:
- If you’re stuck between two suitcases, compare their warranties. We love companies that offer lifetime warranties!
- Bring a measuring tape with you when shopping for luggage. I was heartbroken when I discovered that my Heys Smart Luggage was significantly larger than advertised.
- Airlines have different size restrictions. Jot down the maximum measurements for the airlines you’re most likely to fly with before buying luggage. Be aware that international airlines have tighter size restrictions than US domestic airlines.
- Always check the wheels, zipper, and handle before buying. I once fell in love with a Samsonite, but when I had trouble using the zipper in the store I knew I couldn’t buy it. Lockable zippers are a bonus to help prevent theft!
- With so many flashy suitcase colors, it’s hard to buy one that will stand out from others on a baggage carousel. Consider going with classic black and adding a luggage strap. The strap gives you added security, and your black suitcase will look chic whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure.
- Empty suitcases roll a lot easier than full ones. Stuff a smaller suitcase into your suitcase at the store to get a better idea of how it will perform.
What are your tips for how to choose the best luggage for travel?
For more tips on how to choose the best luggage, please read:
- Travel Experts Recommend the Top Luggage Brands
- Step-By-Step Guide to Choosing a Suitcase
- Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Backpack
- This Video Will Change the Way You Pack
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Author Bio: Kelly Ella Maz is a travel writer from Canada. Her passion for travel and world-wide experience led her to start her own travel planning business and blog. She recently bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona, where she’ll be living by the beach and traveling around Spain. You can follow her travels at www.kellyellamaz.com.