Luggage Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

A good piece of luggage makes traveling so much easier because when your suitcase is organized, you feel like your life is in order, even when you are a long way from home. Having the right luggage and bags for you makes getting to your destination easier and less stressful, so you can focus on why you're traveling, whether it's business or pleasure. And while finding great luggage is easy, it is important to make sure that that luggage works for you and your travels.

Type of Traveler

Luggage Buying Guide

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  • Business traveler:

    Traveling for business is all about efficiency and organization. You want to be able to get through the airport easily and you want to be able to find what you are looking for in your luggage so you can look your best and be prepared for your meeting or convention. A good carry-on and a laptop case work well for most business travelers.

  • Family traveler:

    When traveling with your family, having everything everyone needs is important. Matching luggage sets make it easier to spot your family's bags on baggage carousel so you won't leave any pieces. Larger luggage sets are typically the best for family travel when you need to fit everything you want to take and have room to bring back souvenirs. Rolling luggage is also a good idea so your kid's don't have to struggle with heavy bags.

  • International traveler:

    It can be difficult to pick luggage for international travel. You have to balance the ease of carrying with the ability to hold everything you'll need for a longer trip. Travel backpacks are good for this, allowing you to store a lot of clothes and belongings while not being too cumbersome to take with you as you go from the plane to a bus to a train before getting to your hotel.

  • Weekend traveler:

    When going on short trips, a small, very mobile piece of luggage is best. You'll want to be able to pack quickly and possibly enjoy some sights before checking into your hotel. Backpacks and duffel bags can be a good choice. If flying, stick to carry-on luggage, so you don't have to wait for your bags when you land.

Luggage Types

  • Carry-on luggage:

    Although airlines create their own rules regarding the size of carry-on luggage allowed, most airlines will accept carry-on bags with dimensions of 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches. Besides a carry-on bag, most airlines allow a personal item that can be a handbag, briefcase or laptop case.

  • Luggage sets:

    The number of pieces a luggage set includes will vary, but typically they will include a few suitcases of varying size that can nest within each other and, sometimes, a handbag, garment bag and toiletry bag. Luggage sets are a great value, providing you with suitcases perfectly suited for almost any type of travel.

  • Garment bags:

    Garment bags allow you to pack clothes that are on hangers and typically fold in half to prevent wrinkling of your clothes. Most garment bags are either leather or fabric, and some garment bags will have wheels for ease of transport.

  • Duffel bags:

    Duffel bags are large, roomy soft-sided bags. They are great for winter trips when you might want warm but bulky coats, clothes and boots but don't want to wear them on an airplane. Today, you can find duffle bags with wheels and pull-out handles for easy maneuvering through crowded airports. They also work well for hauling sports equipment.

  • Backpacks:

    Mobility is the greatest advantage of a backpack. On shorter trips, when you might want to do some sight-seeing before checking into your hotel, it is much easier to carry a backpack while changing buses or walking through a museum than to haul a suitcase with you.

  • Briefcases and laptop cases:

    Traveling with important documents or a laptop requires a little more protection. Briefcases will typically provide compartments to keep you organized when away from your office, and hard-sided briefcases provide protection from the crinkling of papers that can ruin your professional image. Laptop cases provide the necessary protection from bumps that a laptop needs. Often times, you will be able to find a laptop case with enough storage to function equally well as a briefcase.

Luggage Materials

  • Leather:

    Leather luggage is attractive, durable and timeless. There are several different types of leather. The most commonly used leathers for luggage are full-grain, top-grain and Napa leather.

    Types of Leather for Luggage

    Full-grain: Full-grain leather is the outer portion of the hide that is not sanded or buffed, allowing it to retain its strength and durability. Full-grain leather is considered the highest quality of leather. It tends to be more expensive than other leathers, but its durability makes it a good choice for luggage.

    Top-grain: Top-grain leather is leather that has been sanded. Top-grain leather is slightly less durable than full-grain, but top-grain leather is more stain-resistant and less expensive.

    Napa leather: Napa leather, sometimes called Nappa leather, is leather that has gone through a tanning process that makes it very soft but still durable. Napa leather also takes dye well for colored leather luggage.

  • Polycarbonate:

    Polycarbonate is used for hard-sided luggage. Polycarbonate luggage provides the best protection to its contents while still remaining fairly lightweight and affordable.

  • Nylon and other fabrics:

    Fabric and nylon luggage is lightweight and affordable. Soft-sided, fabric luggage conforms to its contents and the shape of overhead storage bins very well, making it a good choice for carry-on luggage.

  • Tips from Overstock™

    If you like to bring home a lot more than you take with you, consider taking an empty duffel bag in your suitcase to use on your return flight.

    Put luggage tags on all your bags so they can be more quickly identified and returned to you if they are lost.

    Black luggage is very popular, but bright colors are easier to spot on the luggage carousel. And unique luggage is less likely to be taken by someone who thinks your suitcase is actually his suitcase.