Need some new luggage but don’t even know where to start? Between the plethora of options in stores and online (looking at you Amazon) choosing luggage can be tricky! Read our 7 Steps to Finding the Right Luggage to help you know what to look for, and to help you find the right luggage for you and your family! As always, our travel tips are geared to make your trip as fun and stress-free as possible!
7 Steps to Finding the Right Luggage
A Total Love-Hate Relationship
Luggage, the thing I love to hate. I once had this dream of galavanting around the world in my Burberry sunglasses and carrying my classic monogrammed Louis Vuitton set of luggage. While I do have my sunglasses (don’t worry I got them on sale :)), I will NEVER shell out thousands of dollars for luggage and here is why. One, I simply don’t have the money and Louis Vuitton luggage equates to another trip for me. Two, I have learned that luggage gets beat up – like I am talking straight up assault and battery. Three, I have had the pleasure of having my bags broken into a couple of times and the more flashy the luggage, the more you are putting a sign up that says “hey break into me and find all sorts of goodies to hock.”
On the flip side I have gone to Walmart the night before a big trip after I found out that my zipper had broken unexpectedly (I am looking at you Stef :)) and bought the first thing I could find – that also did not turn out well. Remember what I said about assault and battery? Well that poor bag did not recover well. My mom has the most hysterical story of her luggage flying out of a taxi in the middle of an NYC intersection, I am happy to report that all survived. I digress, but the point being, you also need luggage that can stand up to the crap it is going to take.
The trick to picking out the right luggage is finding a nice balance between “Hello I am Gigi Hadid and I travel like the awesome princess that I am” and “This is my first trip ever and I am so proud of myself that I found this luggage for 20 bucks on sale at Walmart”. Here are my 7 steps to help you pick the right piece of luggage for you!
My 7 Simple Steps
1. Determine what your luggage needs are and what sizes you are looking for
Are you a carry-on type of a traveler? Or, do you like to check a bag? I know that many “expert” travelers SWEAR by the carry-on only method but I have found pro’s and con’s to each of the different options. Overall, I am a check a medium size bag and bring a large tote on board with me kind of a girl. However, before you spend any time researching and then purchasing your luggage, make sure it will suit your needs. There is no need to purchase the extra-carry on if you will never use it. Also, check your favorite airline and look at what sizes of luggage they allow – be sure to check the carry-on rules.
2. Figure out your budget
I know budgeting luggage might sound silly because it isn’t like you are purchasing a car, but there are SO many different luggage options out there. Knowing what you are willing to spend on luggage will help you narrow the search and also keep you in line with your financial goals. (Remember it is all about saving money for your next trip right?) I have found that my monetary sweet point for luggage is in the 100 – 200 dollar range for a long lasting 2 piece set.
3. It is ALL about the weight baby!
(This is what Stef says to me every morning before I step on the scale – just kidding.) For real though, the weight is a BIG FRICKIN DEAL! Most airlines put a cap on the amount of weight you can take on a flight and many smaller international airlines WILL NOT let you even take a bag if it is over the weight. If you only have 50 precious pounds, you do not want to have a fourth of that taken up simply by your luggage. In my opinion, you do not want your luggage to weigh more than 8 pounds. If you can get it lighter – bonus! I have used the shell style luggage before and I have liked it. However, they are not my favorite because I think they are tricky to pack but they do bring down the weight.
4. It is also about the durability
Going back to my story about my mom’s luggage flying out of the taxi – those things happen. Have you seen how luggage is treated once it is sent down on that conveyor belt – it has no rights man. You want something that will last. With the amount that we travel as a family, we can usually plan on our luggage lasting for a solid 2 ½ – 3 years before we need to start replacing it. The thing that usually breaks the most on our bags are the zippers. Read reviews, look up what it is made from. You don’t want cheap flimsy canvas. You will want high-tech plastics like polycarbonate or a nice thick textile like woven nylon.
5. Do not pick luggage based on fashion
Styles change (sometimes rapidly) and you might be left with your neon quilted bag for another two years. The best color? I like black. I know it is lame and oh so boring, but black is easy to clean, hides scuffs well and is timeless. When it comes to differentiating my bag from others on the conveyer belt, I go with a simple brightly colored ribbon or a seriously cute tag. This is one of the few instances where you want function over fashion.
6. Research the bags
Research the brand who produces the bag. Are they reputable? Do they have expertise in the travel industry? Do they replace bags if they are found defective? More often than not, if the bag has predominantly bad reviews it is not something you want to invest in. If I find a bag I am interested in, I usually just copy and paste the name of the luggage and brand into google with the word “reviews” after it. Almost always there are reviews all over the place.
7. If you are buying your luggage online, find somewhere that will ship your bag for free and offers returns
You do not want to have to spend more $$ shipping your luggage to you. If you are like me, I rarely buy anything in person anymore. But, I also like to try something out and make sure it works before I decide to keep it. If I have to pay for shipping both ways that comes out to be a whole lot of money! Also, if you are looking to save some money, keep an eye out for sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big days for deals on bags. Almost any other “sale time” like memorial day you should find decent discounts.
If you are still lost I have included a link to a consumer report article about luggage buying. I also included some links to my favorite brands (these are not sponsored).
Favorite brands of luggage
Like always – comment below! What is your favorite luggage and what do you look for in a bag? Happy shopping!
Also, If you are getting ready to plan a trip don’t forget to check out our Top 10 Tips for Family Trip Planning!