The Most Efficient and Economical Luggage for Big Trips
To make your trip go smoother, consider making a packing list for vacation and finding the right luggage to meet your needs. Keep reading for more travel tips.
April 11, 2022
We’ve all been guilty of packing 24 pairs of underwear for a week-long trip. Better safe than sorry—right?
As helpful as overpacking can be if something does go awry, it can also really weigh you down. To better plan for your next trip, let’s look at how you can choose the right luggage, how you can pack more efficiently and how to make a packing list for vacation.
How to choose the right luggage for your trip
Where you’re going and how long you’ll be traveling for will impact what kind of bag best suits your needs.
Lengthy road trip
If you’re taking a leisurely road trip, a soft duffle bag is the way to go.
Since you won’t need to carry your bag through airports for extended periods of time, a flexible duffle bag is a great packing tool. It’s easy to squeeze into the back of your car and you can choose virtually any size you want to suit the length of your trip.
Even if the duffle bag you have is bigger than you need, you can compress it into a smaller shape when packing your car.
Weekend getaway by plane
When taking a quick weekend getaway that requires a flight, chances are you don’t want to waste more time at the airport than necessary. If you pack strategically, you can fit everything you need for a weekend trip into a large backpack or a small roller bag that can fit either under the seat or in the overhead compartment.
Plenty of airlines charge to check bags these days, so packing light can save you money and time since you won’t need to line up to check your bag or have to wait around for your luggage after your flight.
If you’re jumping around from location to location for more than a few days, a sturdy suitcase with wheels will save your back a lot of pain.
If you need to take multiple flights or train rides while you hop around — like when traveling through Europe — the convenience of a wheeled suitcase can really come in handy.
Nowadays, nice luggage comes with locking features and even charging stations for your phone — which can be super helpful during travel delays. Picking a suitcase that can make your trip easier in more ways than one is a smart move.
What to look for when purchasing luggage
Luggage, and travel in general, can be quite the investment, so you want to make sure you take your time and do your research before shelling out the big bucks. Here are a few factors worth keeping in mind when buying luggage.
The appeal of wheels is obvious, but the big question is whether you should choose luggage that comes with two or four wheels.
Four-wheeled suitcases can spin 360 degrees which makes them easy to maneuver and pull alongside you, in front of you or behind you. The problem with four-wheel luggage is that if you are on an incline, they can easily roll away from you.
With a two-wheeler you can only move the luggage forward and backward, but they are usually easier to use when navigating city streets — think cobblestones and curbs — because they can’t spin in as many different directions.
There’s no right answer when it comes to wheels, so you need to consider how you like to navigate your luggage when you travel.
You also want to consider how the wheels are mounted. Because the wheels on four-wheeler suitcases tend to be mounted externally, they can snap off easier. Look for a rolling suitcase that has wheels attached with screws, not rivets. Two-wheeler suitcases have recessed wheels that are less likely to snap off which can make this style of luggage hold up longer.
A broken zipper can be a hassle to deal with while traveling, so consider the quality of the zipper before you purchase new luggage. Generally chain zippers are higher quality and break less than coil zippers. Chain zippers tend to be made of metal whereas coil zippers are made of plastic.
Whether you choose a duffle bag or a rolling suitcase, you’ll want to make sure the handle is secure. To check how secure a handle is on a rolling suitcase, pick up the luggage and look for any wiggling or rattling. For a duffle bag, examine the stitching and see how secure it appears to be.
Soft or hard material
If you like to pack light and aim to always travel with just a carry-on bag, a softer suitcase can be your biggest ally as a fabric suitcase is more flexible and can allow you to squeeze in a bit more if necessary.
Hard-sided suitcases can be more durable as they can’t rip, but they are pretty rigid when it comes time to zip them up.
The most durable material out there is aluminum, but this is also the heaviest material which can get you into trouble when it comes time to weigh your luggage at the airport.
Tips to pack efficiently
Once you choose luggage that meets your preferences and your budget, you can master packing it. Here’s how.
Make a vacation packing list. For an effective packing list for vacation, start by mapping out an itinerary for your entire trip including what kinds of activities you’re likely to do. If your hotel doesn’t have a pool and the location isn’t coastal, you can probably skip the swimsuit; and if the location is known for having amazing hikes, make sure to pack that activewear.
Choose the right size luggage for your trip. Sometimes what you’re packing isn’t the problem, it’s the size of your luggage. For trips that will be longer than a week, consider packing a large suitcase and a carry-on bag, even if you aren’t traveling by plane.
Embrace packing cubes. Packing cubes have been getting a lot of attention these last few years for good reason. These cubes can help you stay organized, they can compress your clothes and they can help you separate your dirty clothes from your clean.
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