In the interest of full disclosure, as some of you already know, I have my own luggage line carried exclusively by HSN. I had the chance to design unique luggage that looks great and overcomes some basic shortcomings that many luggage lines exhibit. The purpose of this article is not to promote my line, but to give you some insight into the types of things I look for in my own experience with luggage and what I considered when designing my own line. One thing I’ve learned in this process is that there is not one piece of luggage that fits everyone’s needs or travel personality. And how I travel is very different from others. Here are some tips everyone can use to make sure that next piece you buy is a love match. Did I mention I have my own luggage line?
Do you think anyone in the history of travel has ever under packed for a trip? You could easily over-pack a large suitcase and end up over the 50 lb. limit. Overweight fees are worse than taxes so make sure the bag isn’t heavy empty. Lightweight bags have proliferated on the market but don’t take their word for it. Make sure you find the actual weight of the bag printed on the sales tag. A carry-on should be less than 10 lbs. A lot of lightweight bags have soft sides which is great for stuffing into a small overhead bin space, but if you like to bring items that would be damaged if crushed, then go with a harder side piece of luggage.
(SIGH) the carry on. it was supposed to make our lives easier and avoid fees but it’s become such a pain in the arse-I blame the airlines and their inconsistent regulations. So here are a few things you need to know to get the one that will work best for you.
- The airlines control this size not TSA so just because you got passed security doesn’t mean your bag is compliant with the airlines
- The ugly truth: Not all overhead bin space is the same-not airline to airline or even plane to plane-of the same airline. That’s why all carry on luggage states that it fits in the overhead bins on most planes.
- Measurements: What airlines will allow ranges from 45 linear inches up to 55”! with Delta, United and American being stingy and Virgin and Southwest being very generous. Who isn’t happier with 10 extra inches (now that didn’t sound right). So if you fly mostly SW then don’t go with a 45” bag. FYI-The bag I fly with is 48 ½” and it has always fit in the major (stingy) airline bins.
- The wheels: now that you know the smallest carry on size is 45” you also need to know how the luggage industry measures the bag. Those measurements only refer to the container itself NOT the two to three inches the wheels use up and this could possibly make the difference of you fitting your bag in or not. I always look for bags where the wheels are slightly embedded in the case itself not “up on roller skates.” It keeps the bag closer to its true measurements and protects the wheels from being damaged or ripped off.
- 4 vs. 2 Smackdown: Travel purists may shun the 4 spinner wheel bag as for amateurs but when you walk onto a plane, spin the bag to its narrowest side and effortlessly roll down the aisle without spilling your $7 double caramel soy latte, you’ll be a believer too.
- Pockets: Whoever thought more pockets the better on luggage obviously has never found themselves on the floor of an airport panic stricken searching for their boarding pass and passport. I want only two pockets on the front of my bag: one shallow, one deep. The deep pocket is perfect for a magazine I’ll want handy during my trip and the shallow one is for anything I might need in 2 seconds…and freak out if I can’t find. Compartments on the inside are excellent for separating stuff but remember whoever designed this might not pack like you pack. I like to keep these simple and want luggage to be an empty vessel so I can fit/stuff things with no obstructions.