Things to Consider When Buying a Carry-On Bag

Travel Tip Tuesday Congratulations!  You have made the decision to stick it to the man (or should I say the airlines)- and have made a commitment to carry-on your luggage from this. day. forward.

But what now?  What should you buy? There are so many different types of carry-on luggage – almost as many as there are types of airline fees. Backpack, wheelie, rolling duffel, wheelie with removable backpack- the list goes on and on.

How will you possibly decide?

While I am not going to recommend actual luggage brands or specific bags, I will give you a few pointers and things to consider before investing in your new carry-on luggage.

Your lifestyle and fitness level. I am not an adventure traveler, by nature.  I don’t take hiking or biking vacations.  The exercise I get is generally from wandering aimlessly over cobblestones.  And eating.  So when I purchased my carry-on, I knew that I would not need anything with a backpack.  Likewise most adventure travelers would never dream of toting around a stylish salmon-colored wheelie bag that didn’t have a removable backpack option. It wouldn’t work for their lifestyle.  Also, if you have back problems, you are most likely going to shy away from something that will put additional strain on your spine.

Weight. Airlines have limits for carry-on bag weights and measurements.  If you start with a bag that weighs 20 lbs, empty-  it isn’t going to leave a whole lot of available weight for your personal items.  Go for a lighter weight bag and you’ll be less likely to reach those weight restrictions.

Soft Case vs. Hard Case. This is a personal choice, but I favor the soft cases for one very simple reason. They give.  You’ll have more success playing the ‘1o pounds of crap in a five pound bag‘ game with a soft case as opposed to a hard one.  You can squish and smoosh things into corners and manipulate the bags contents at will.  Good soft cases should be made of a durable fabric (denier nylon is a good bet) and most offer additional room in the form of expandable gussets. Another benefit of soft cases-they tend to look good. Hard cases on the other hand, tend to show fingerprints, scratches, dents and cracks.

Pockets and Compartments. The more the merrier, if you ask me!  At the very least, a proper carry-on bag should have enough space in at least one separate outside compartment to store your travel documents and personal items you’ll need to keep close for use during the plane ride.  The last thing you want is to unzip the main compartment and rifle through your belongings in the middle of airport security.

Wheels. You know how you feel when you get stuck with the shopping-cart-gone-awry at the grocery store?We’ve all had  the cart with the ‘jimmy-wheel’ – the one that keeps veering to one side all on its own, careening into the cardboard display at the end of the aisle. Yeah, well imagine having that same horrifying experience with your wheeled luggage.  It ain’t pretty.  Whether you like 4 wheels, spinners or two traditional roller-blade style wheels- it’s important to test them out to make sure they roll, respond and navigate well.

Cost. While I am all for budget travel, this is one area I suggest spending a few extra pennies.  Good quality luggage should have an abundance of features, last a good long while, and be a joy to use, if it is treated well. A really well-built bag can even last a lifetime, depending on how much use it gets.  So, while you may be able to score something for $30 on-line, remember- you get what you pay for!

No matter which type of bag you decide on, make sure you do your homework.  Research brands and check out customer reviews on models before buying, if possible.  Just because you want to invest in good quality luggage, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look around for a great price on that top-of-the-line brand!

Here are a few sources for on-line luggage shopping:

Have the desire to convert to carry-on but overwhelmed with paring down? Click here to see how I can help!

Head on over to My Bella Vita for another dose of  Travel Tip Tuesday!

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