You are in the market for luggage as you are planning to travel.
But what key things should one know before purchasing luggage?
1. STAY AWAY FROM 28″ OR HIGHER LUGGAGE
This will shock some people that I start off with this because I own 28″ or 29″ luggage. But first let me explain why I recommend to NOT to buy 28″ or 29″ or higher luggage.
Most airline companies only allow 62 linear inches (158 cm) for checked baggage, so let’s say a bag is 29 inches (29″ x 20.5″ x 12″) which equals 61.5 inches. .5 below the maximum allowed by the airline company, right?
That’s not necessarily true. You’ll notice some bag companies now adding the +2 to their dimensions on their tags as of late and that’s because airlines count the wheels, the pockets, the expansion zipper and the handles.
So, for a bag that is 61.5 inches, it can easily become a 63-65 inch bag, inches way above what an airline allows on a flight. It may not sound like a lot but airline companies will charge anywhere between $100-$200 for having a bag over 62 inches and over $400 or more if you go over 70 inches.
So, to answer the question of why I own 28″ or 29″ bags if I recommend to not to purchase them. It’s because I love flying Japan Airlines (JAL) and they allow a maximum of 79.9 inches for checked baggage (yes…WOW!). They are not only generous but very awesome for offering that and more to those who fly with them!
Save yourself the headache and purchase 25″ or smaller luggage. When you total up the inches, most of the 24″ or 25″ are between 51-53 inches. Even if you add a +2 or a +3 inches, it’s still below the 62 inch maximum.
Sure, we all want to fit in as much as possible and fortunately, airline companies especially for international travel, allow two checked in baggage.
And last, make sure the luggage clearly states the dimensions on its tags, so you can add the length, height and width to get the total linear inches. Then I would add 2 or 3 inches to be safe and whatever total you get, if it’s anywhere close or over 62 inches, I would not purchase it.
Also, if you take a taxi or Uber, some drivers will have a hard time fitting that 29″ bag in the back of their car, especially if you have two big pairs of luggage, a backpack and your personal items bag.
2. 4-WHEELER or 2-WHEELER?
This is a matter of personal preference. Yes, I love the thick wheels that my two-wheeler has. But I also own several four-wheelers and I enjoy them just as well.
Here is my feeling about the wheels. Do you spend on luggage that are affordable and you just want to spend a $100 or less, then purchase whatever you find convenient.
Otherwise, are you willing to spend $225 or more for better wheels? Such as the The Travelpro Platinum Magna with magnetic wheel alignment and comes with 8 wheels, then definitely go for it! And two-wheelers, there is the $500+ Briggs & Riley luggage.
Personally, I love TravelPro luggage because of the eight wheels, but when it comes down to it, for certain countries (especially Japan), you will find yourself having to bring your luggage up stairs like these over and over again, especially if your hotel is located near a subway versus a train. So, consider what kind of wheel is on the luggage and make sure the luggage has a solid warranty.
Take a look at the wheels and make sure there are no warping or any cracks before purchasing it.
But whatever choice you make, do not let anyone tell you that choosing one or another is a poor choice. It’s all about preference.
3. Hard Sided or Fabric-based Luggage?
OK, I know a lot of people like the harder piece of luggage. If you are carrying items that are fragile, definitely go for it. BUT if you want a hard sided luggage, then I recommend spending the money that will protect your items or equipment and I recommend Pelican Elite luggage or Tumi luggage. Bare in mind, they cost $500-$600, but it’s worth investing in, if you want the protection.
Now, what about cheap hard shell luggage that you find very cheap at Marshall’s or Ross? Those are not hard. In fact, if you see a hard shell for $59, inspect the corners and you will see some with cracks or warping. Not many of them are sturdy. If you want better protection, you’re going to have to spend more money for that protection and Pelican and a few others are the way to go. Also, for those cheaper hardshell luggage, open the luggage up and not all the inexpensive hardcase luggage are that deep. But they do have a hardershell that protects your clothing from the rain.
I don’t purchase anything fragile to keep in my checked-in luggage. I don’t carry anything too expensive like statuettes or porcelain and my electronics are kept in my carry on bag. So, I prefer fabric-based luggage. For one, I look for something that advertises how light the bags are. I prefer bags with extra pockets to keep things in. Especially in the front area and it’s important to find luggage that is deep and also is expandable.
It’s also important to find luggage that durable material and water repellent material is a plus! And always, always, always inspect the zipper. And make sure the zipper that you hold is wider/longer and not thin like it would be on a pair of jeans or a jacket. You want luggage that can withstand many zips and not get caught on any fabric.
4. Look for the Warranty
When purchasing new luggage, companies such as Travelpro, Samsonite, Delsey Paris, London Fog and others offer a 10 year Limited warranty. Briggs and Riley offer a lifetime guarantee and for the most part, many companies do offer warranties. Mostly for defects not for normal wear and tear.
I intentionally saved this for last as this is one that can ruin your vacation if you do not plan in advance.
So, here’s something you must buy immediately…A portable digital or analog travel luggage weight scale.
These are inexpensive and something you want to take with you on your travel (make sure you have fresh new batteries as well).
For checked luggage, if you are traveling international, airlines allow 50 pounds for luggage. Bring one luggage (50 pounds and you can’t go over that). Bring two-check in luggage (and for some airlines, they must equal 25 pounds and you can’t go over that).
If you go over 50 pounds for your luggage, your airline may charge you a $500 fee. Contact your Airline to learn more about baggage rules and ask about the weight limit if you are bringing multiple check-in bags.
So, what to do?
For one, I make sure that I bring a carryon backpack and personal items bag, so I can stuff items into it (Note: Some airlines have a 25-50 pound limit for carryon, so check your airline’s rules online), this will help alleviate weight from your checked in baggage.
If your goal is to purchase a lot of things, then plan to have most of your clothes in your first check-in baggage and the second one, have a few things in it. You can pretty much imagine that if the checked baggage is 8-10 pounds, that only leaves you with 15-17 pounds to work with.
One time, I traveled to another country and my total weight count for checked luggage was 68 pounds. That was 18 pounds over the limit (I didn’t have a digital travel weight scale then) and needless to say, I was stressed. Fortunately, the airlines were kind of giving me multiple chances and multiple weigh-in’s to reduce the weight limit back to 25 for each luggage.
But I managed to fit everything in my carryon (which had a lot of extra pockets) and my camera bag which was covered from the top, so it could be elevated and held down with a snap-belt, not velcro or button snap. And everything worked.
Otherwise, as a last resort, if you purchased too much, the next step is to ship it back to yourself from that state or overseas or have it delivered via boat or even have a friend in that country ship it to you (no matter which you select, this last option will be expensive).
Overall, one should enjoy their trip without having to worry about luggage fees or any hassle. But it’s important to be smart and plan ahead for traveling.
I hope this information helps you in the long run!