There’s no doubt about it– traveling is a wonderful thing. In fact, it’s one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Stimulating, affirming, and educational, the benefits of travel are unparalleled. But despite its incredible appeal, traveling can also be stressful.
So if you want to maximize the pleasures of traveling, you’ll have to eliminate some of its inherent stressors. And strange as it seems, one source of travel stress is your luggage.
Anyone who’s found themselves without the right baggage can attest to the surprising truth that the right (or wrong) luggage can make or break your trip. This luggage guide is designed to reduce your stress and let you get down to the good parts of traveling.
General Luggage Guidelines
Before focusing on the specifics, there are a few general luggage guidelines you’ll want to consider before making your decisions. The choices out there are practically limitless, but these suggestions will go a long way toward narrowing them down.
The last thing you want is a bag that’s too heavy to lug around or one that doesn’t have room for everything you need to bring. Depending on your budget, you might want to include suitcases of at least two different sizes in your collection. This allows for flexibility and keeps you prepared for any sort of trip.
Choose the material carefully
There are a couple of factors to keep in mind when deciding on the material your luggage is made of. The first decision you’ll need to make is between hard and soft shelled luggage. Soft bags make for a better carry-on experience and tend to handle shock better than hard-shelled bags. While obviously heavier and sometimes unwieldy, hard shell luggage does offer better protection for your belongings.
Don’t wait until two weeks before your trip to South America to start shopping for luggage. This might force you into a quick decision you’ll later regret, so give yourself time to compare and shop around. Buying luggage is just like anything else– comparison is the key to satisfaction. Lastly, ordering online is just fine, but at least pay a visit to a brick and mortar store before any final decisions. This will let you test the bag in person and makes for more nuanced comparison.
Hopefully, the guidelines above will help establish the parameters of your luggage decisions. With that accomplished, you can focus on the specific details involved in choosing the right bags.
Make sure you have a reliable carry-on bag. Traveling with only a carry-on bag is simpler, cheaper, and prevents overpacking. Importantly, carry-on bags can also serve your travel needs for much longer than you think, so they’re a must-have for your collection.
Decide how much you want (or need) to spend. The price you pay for luggage is obviously important, but finding your sweet spot can be more difficult than it seems. First, stay away from the extremes of dirt cheap, lousy luggage and ostentatious designer bags. As with most things, the middle road is best, but you also need to consider your travel needs. If you travel frequently, you’ll probably want to go with higher priced bags. They’re usually much more durable than cheaper bags and often come with a warranty as well. If you only travel once or twice a year, you can probably go with something a little cheaper.
You never know what the weather will bring, so waterproof your belongings for maximum convenience and protection. This means you should opt for water-resistant material or luggage that’s been treated with a protective sealant on the inside. Another way to protect against moisture is by lining the top and bottom of your luggage with the kind of plastic sheets that dry-cleaners use. Additionally, you might want to invest in a suitcase cover or two. They’re not super expensive and can increase the lifespan of your luggage in addition to protecting your things.
On a related matter, write up-to-date contact information (not your address) on waterproof labels and attach them to all of your bags. This allows for easy identification and gives you the best chance of retrieving a lost bag.
It’s also helpful to think about the features you want your luggage to have. Wheels are almost always a good idea, as is a telescoping handle. Multiple compartments are extremely helpful as well, especially if you’ll be rushing around during your trip and want to avoid rummaging around every time you need something. You’ll want the added security of a lockable suitcase as well. When traveling, you should always expect the unexpected and security is no longer optional.
- In conclusion, here are a few quick luggage tips to help ensure the best possible travel experience:
If you end up ordering online, make sure to leave enough time to return the luggage if you’re not satisfied.
- Purchase travel insurance that covers you in case of lost or stolen bags.
- Make sure you thoroughly understand the luggage weight and volume requirements of the airline you’re using. This will save time and money, as well as prevent unnecessary frustration.
- Make sure that the luggage you take on a given trip matches up with the maneuverability challenges it’s likely to present.
- Lastly, let the phrase ‘don’t overpack’ be your travel mantra. You always need less than you think, so if it’s not absolutely required, leave it at home. This will make any luggage you choose that much more appropriate.
Author: Pepe Gonzalez is a tour guide located in Key West Florida.