Your travel bag needs to be replaced. Where do you start when looking at a new piece of luggage?
Start by weighing it empty. Many bags are marked ‘lightweight’, but what does that mean? If the weight is marked on the tag, weigh it anyway. If you’re looking for a carry-on bag, try to keep it to less than 10 pounds.
Speaking of carry-on bags…did you know each airline controls the size requirements of your carry on? The TSA does not. So, your bag may make it through security and then the gate agent might ask you to gate check it due to its size.
Not all overhead bins are the same size. When reading the tags on carry-on luggage, you’ll note they say ‘will fit in most overhead compartments.’ That’s why you need to think about dimensions of your new carry-on bag. With a range from 45 linear inches to 55 linear inches, there’s quite a difference among airlines. Delta, United, and American seem to be the smallest, while Virgin and Southwest are the most generous.
Dimensions include wheels. When measuring a new bag, be sure to include the wheels. Most likely the tag will only have the bag dimensions.
Wheels…do you want two or four? Up to you, but I like four on my carry-on. I can turn the bag sideways in the aisle and it rolls perfectly, without hitting anyone as I go by.
Pockets…good or unnecessary? Some bags have so many outside pockets, it seems like a waste to me. You might think differently. That’s why you need to decide if you want them or not before you buy. Pockets on the inside are a much better idea for me. Again, what do you like?
Price…definitely something to think about. Is cheaper better? Not necessarily. Is more expensive always better? Not necessarily. What you need to do, is check the bag closely. Are the seams well-constructed? Are the handles easy to grip for your size of hand? Do the wheels appear sturdy, or do they wobble and feel flimsy in your hands? Doe the telescoping handle go up and down easily? If something feels off about it, it might not be your best choice.
Material…soft sided versus hard. Do you need the bag to be waterproof? Is this bag going to get a lot of hard use? Do you have a preference?
Color…ahh, black versus non-black. Look at the baggage carousel. Black is definitely the predominant color. Want yours to stand out? Buy a different color. What if the bag you want only comes in black and hot pink…and hot pink will not work for you? Buy the black one and add some colored tape to the handle. You don’t need to put a bunch of ribbons, yarn, or silly things…unless that’s what you like. You can just add some simple colored tape found in any hardware store. It makes your bag easier to spot in the sea of black bags.
Brand…does it matter? Some companies have excellent warranties. If that is something you look for, you should check out bags made by those companies. Be sure to check what that warranty covers and understand the difference between full warranty, lifetime guarantee, and limited lifetime warranty.