Travel Luggage

A guide to prices, styles, durability and what type is best for you

Luggage may be one of the most confusing things to buy. With prices ranging from $10 for a simple suitcase on wheels, to over $1,000 for a Louis Vuitton case, the decision on what to buy can seem impossible. However, it can be made easy if you consider a few things.

Start by deciding what the luggage will primarily be used for. Luggage is one of the things in life, where cheaper is not better. A $10 suitcase is not capable of withstanding much pressure, and some brands are known to fall apart after only one flight. However, if you plan on using luggage for only a few car trips a year, a cheaper option might be better. A frequent traveler will need to invest in higher quality pieces that can stand up to some wear and tear.

When it comes to actually buying luggage, there are three things that every traveler needs: a wheel-on bag, a carry-on bag, and a cosmetic or shaving case. Those three items are enough for most basic travel needs.

There are, however, some things you should look for when buying your main suitcase:

  • Look at the frame of the suitcase. It should be sturdy and lightweight. A heavy frame will make the suitcase feel heavy before you even pack. The best choices are fiberglass and plastic, which are long lasting and don't weigh down the bag.
  • You should also check for the exterior condition of the bag. The seams should be reinforced to stay in place to keep from unraveling, and the joints should be covered to help with general wear and tear.
  • The type of fabric used is equally important. Cheaper bags use canvas, which doesn't hold up well. Long distance travelers should look into nylon products; they are more durable and clean easily. Try to avoid leather because it is too heavy and can crack easily. Also consider looking for a bag that is weatherproof; it can come in handy if there is a leak in your trunk or you get caught in a rainstorm.

Simpler is better when it comes to the outside of the bag. Multiple zippers and pockets seem like a good idea, until you can't find which pocket you stashed your passport in. Look for well-made zippers that slide easily and strong handles. Try tugging on the handle a few times to see how it holds up, and make sure the seams of the fabric are reinforced.

Consider making a list of your needs before shopping for luggage. If you know what you want and need, the process will be much easier.

Popular Luggage Brands

Of course, it'd be nice to tote around designer luggage from Louis Vuitton or Gucci, but for most of us, that's simply not practical. However, there are some well-known names in luggage that are affordable for the average consumer. Samsonite, American Tourister, Kenneth Cole and Eagle Creek luggage all have reputations for making stylish, practical, dependable travel gear at prices to suit most budgets.

By Jennifer Eblin