Camping, vacations, reunions, business trips, conferences—it doesn’t matter where you go, a part of your home has to come with you in your bag. Luggage bags or travel bags are both practical and stylish accessories, designed to accommodate our belongings in an organized manner. They are convenient to carry around the world and do not look weird alongside your traveling clothes.
If you are just going on a quick trip or you don’t travel that much, all you may need is carry-on bag
and a single suitcase to check in
. However, frequent travelers or people going on extended trips may need more than that, and this is where purchasing a complete set of luggage can save you both time and money in the long run.
A typical luggage set consists of ‘carry-on’ bags and ‘check-in’ bags or suitcases (sometimes called trolleys) of different shapes and sizes to accommodate various requirements of tourists. They may include two to eight bags. One of the great features that most luggage sets offer is that they are designed to fit, on inside the other, when not in use so that they don’t take up a lot of room in your closet.
Wheeled luggage and trolley bags stand upright. They have inline wheels that move either forward or backward or spinner wheels that rotate in all directions. Garment bags are ideal for carrying winter wear, suits and ironed clothes. Sets with more pieces often include smaller bags to accommodate items such as toiletries, hair accessories, electronic items such as mobile phones, laptops, headphones, etc. during travel. You might even want to use one of the mid-sized bags for nothing but your shoes!
Luggage sets differ in terms of colors, materials, sizes, features and prices so it’s important to consider a few things when shopping such as:
- How often do you travel? If it’s just once in a while, you may not want to invest a lot of money in a luggage set. Frequent flyers may want to go for a higher end set because they are designed to be more durable and to withstand the rough and tumble demands of traveling.
- What is your travel destination (beach, island, mountains or fields)? Season also comes in to play here because the colder it is, the more likely you will be bringing heavier clothing that takes up more space.
- Related to the question above, how much will you need to pack (and what types of things you will be packing)?
- If you will be brining fragile items, binoculars or electronics, you want bags with extra padding and protection.
- What is mode of travel (ship, airplane or automobiles)? This will also help you to determine the sizes and quantity of pieces you need.
- What are your personal preferences in terms of features such as color, material, strap type and wheel?
With your answers to these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the factors that you may want to consider before making your final decision.
It is important that you set a budget to refine your choices. While you may be not looking for an expensive $2,000 bag set, a tacky ‘use-and-throw’ bag wouldn’t do either!
You can expect to spend at least $40 for ultra-light polyester luggage set like the Rockland II-piece luggage set. It is perfect for short trips where you need to carry just a few clothes like slacks and shirts. Contrary to this, if you are a businessman who wants to leave an impression on a client, you can spend around $400 on imported bags with multiple interior pockets and signature lining like the Tommy Bahama Mojito Four-piece luggage set. It is convenient for business trips where you have too many items for a briefcase.
Certain features like 360° spinner wheels, multiple compartments, detachable shoulder straps and shoe pockets increase a bag’s price. Nevertheless, these features are practical in the long run.
As a shopper, many people tend to opt for bags coming from popular brands or fashion designers. Here, you must note that a high price tag of a brand does not guarantee its superior quality. If you can grab a rough-and-tough ‘check-in’ bag at economical rates and don’t care what name is on it, just go for it.
Some features are important; some are nice to have whereas others follow the latest market trends. Going lightweight should be your primary concern when boarding a public transport. There’s a direct correlation between your luggage weight, the efforts you put into carrying it and the amount of money you save!
Here are some features to consider that will make you a happy wanderer:
- Adjustable straps and wheels for mobility
- Chains, button and TSA-approved locks for added security
- Outer dimensions, especially height, since airlines allow baggage only up to 55 inches
- Internal space and compartments, including shoe holders and external pockets (the more the merrier)
- Durable exteriors with sturdy seam, stitching and hardware
While it may be a cosmetic feature, you will also what to consider color when choosing your luggage set. Choose vibrant colors and prints if you are looking to stand out; or darker colors such as black, brown and navy blue because they won’t show the inevitable signs of traveling as much as lighter colors will.
Construction and Design
We may not realize it, but there are several aspects of a bag’s construction affects its performance and longevity. The obvious one is what the bag is actually made of. There are many different choices – luggage sets come in soft materials like nylon, leather and canvas or hard material like quasi-flexible polycarbonate. When looking at construction and design, there are two important questions you need to ask yourself.
Do you want a soft or hard shell luggage set?
Soft-shell bags are spacious and stretchable, and depending upon what you get, can be pretty lightweight. On the other hand, hard-shell trolleys are appealing for businessmen, frequent travelers or international flyers. These can stand up even the toughest baggage handler and bumpiest flights, but they tend to be heavier.
Ultimately you will have to decide that whether you want a soft or hard exterior for your luggage set, based upon your personal needs and preferences. Here are some of the pros of each:
- Hard Case: Made of durable plastic, waterproof, scratch-resistant, super lightweight, protect breakable items and reduce overall luggage weight.
- Soft Shell: Made of 100% polyester, canvas or rayon, cushion against hits, expandable (can be stuffed with more items).
You may also want to look for materials that are waterproof, weather-resistant, scratchproof and long-lasting.
What kind of wheels do you want on your luggage?
Bags with spinning wheels and a long handle make excellent travel partners because they are easy to pull and drag. There’s less stress on your back and you can easily rush to the airport. However, depending upon the type of wheels you get, they can add an additional 2 to 3 inches to its overall height – which is not problem for the mid-sized bag, but they could put your carry on or largest bag over the airline size limits if you are not careful.
While there are many different variations that brands may, there are basically three types of bags when it comes to wheels:
- Bags without wheels: Not the best for traveling because they need to be carried. In most cases these are backpack, messenger, duffle style – or the smaller bags that come with sets for “essentials.”
- Bags with 2-Wheels: Easy to control within narrow spaces, but not great for “quick turns and maneuverability.” Because there are only two, they tend to be less expensive than ones with four.
- Bags with 4-Wheels: Rotate in all directions, easy to handle, good for amateurs travelling for the first time as well as frequent flyers who love the handling, especially if they are 360-degree spinning wheels.
Performance and Ease of Use
The performance of any luggage set depends on the type of luggage you’re carrying and the destination you’re flying to. If you’re heading for a cruise, you may want to buy hard, rigid, waterproof trolley bags. Flat briefcases work well for a road trip whereas glossy, medium-sized spinners are perfect for international flights.
Features such as durable hard sides, reinforced corners, 360 spinner wheels and quick access pockets are great touches to look for. Two-wheel trolley is an excellent option for dragging heavy luggage across aerodrome whereas four-wheel spinners are a boon for patients suffering from cervical spondylosis.
In addition, there are four other factors that can affect your bag’s performance: Fabric, Frame, Security Measures, Waterproofing. Lightweight materials like ballistic nylon and polyester are expandable and scuff-resistant whereas fiberglass frames provide inner strength. Look for bags with water-resistant outer shells for your beach and island trips.
Don’t be afraid to kick the tires, test the handles, check under the hood and check its hardware (straps, zippers, seams and stitching) to gauge its performance. Check for warranties on defective materials and workmanship so that you can replace them if required.
Different luggage styles are better for certain types of travel, so think about where you're going and how light you want to pack. Are you looking for a sturdy hard-shell luggage set that can really take a beating? Or would you rather a light but durable soft-sided bag that easily fits in trunks and over-head spaces? Are you willing to spend more for more reliable parts, multi-directional wheels and other features? Keep these questions in mind as you check out our recommendations.
Wherever you're off to, you'll want luggage from a trusted brand so you can stay mobile. These 5 brands definitely fit the bill and all offer a multitude of sizes and styles so make your choice and get packing!