Good luggage makes travelling easier. If you're in the market for superior luggage which offers the perfect blend of functionality, style and affordability, then you'll appreciate this detailed buyer's guide on How To Buy Luggage. We're here to share some practical facts about the commonly used and impressive types of luggage. Once you've read our guide, you'll know how to shop like the experts do.

All suitcases and carry-ons are different. However, most of them share certain features, including zippers, handles and wheels. In the eyes of most consumers, the most important features of modern luggage are high-quality wheels and overall ruggedness.

A consumer study conducted by Consumer Reports pinpointed durability as the number one feature that consumers want. Luggage has to be built in order to stand the test of time. When luggage does offer premium durability, those who buy it are usually very happy with it. So, it's safe to say that you should look for luggage which is renowned for its durability.

Here are some things to think about before you purchase your next piece of luggage, or a new set of luggage.



Both softshell and hardshell luggage have their good points. The softshell designs may also be known as softside luggage and they are flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces, such as overhead storage spaces on planes. As well, softshell bags are often expandable.

If you're the type of person who tends to buy lots of new stuff on a trip and you want to bring it back in your suitcase or carry-on, without having to buy another piece of luggage, you may appreciate the features of expandable softshell luggage. It's really useful because it grows or shrinks depending on the needs of the person using it.

When it's expandable, luggage will hold quite a bit of items.

You should know that some softshell bags aren't totally soft. They have soft coverings, but feature reinforced shells under their exterior fabrics. This reinforcement makes these bags surprisingly tough. So, don't assume that a softshell suitcase or carry-on will lack the ruggedness that you want. Some of them are amazingly strong!

However, it's also true that some softshell luggage lacks reinforcement and isn't quite as tough and rugged as hardshell luggage. You'll need to read up on product details for specific softshell suitcases and carry-on bags before deciding which styles offer the right level of strength and durability.


Hardshell luggage may also be referred to as hardside luggage and suitcases and carry-ons of the hardshell type will have shell-like exteriors. The shells of these cases may not be completely solid. However, they'll be much less flexible than softshell cases.

While the shells will definitely withstand some hard knocks (they'll hold up better than soft fabric bags, such as canvas carry-on bags), there is always the possibility that contents of a hardshell case will become damaged if they are subjected to a lot of force.

The upside of hardshell luggage is its strength. The downside is its minimal flexibility.

In general, we think that buying a softshell carry-on and a hardshell suitcase is smart. You'll get the best of both worlds. Your carry-on will be flexible enough to squeeze into overhead compartments and your hardshell suitcase will be tough enough to handle being tossed around by airline personnel.

Now, we'd like to talk about the types of luggage.


  • Check In Luggage
  • Carry-On Luggage
  • Personal Luggage


This type of luggage is handed over to airline, train or bus personnel, so that it may be placed in holds of planes, trains or buses. Check in baggage isn't accessible to the owner while it's stored in cargo holds.

Your check in luggage will need to fit weight and size guidelines, which vary by airline, train company or bus company. To give you an example, American Airlines requests that checked baggage not exceed fifty pounds in weight or sixty-two inches in size.

Check in luggage which exceeds the limits may be classified as excess baggage and checking this type of baggage costs extra money. So, it's helpful to find check in luggage which does fit most airline, train line and bus line guidelines.

Also, we recommend weighing your suitcase before you take it to the airport. Airports have scales, so you'll be able to check the weight of a suitcase or suitcases there. However, if any case is overweight, you may need to remove items and this can be inconvenient.

Most larger luggage manufacturers provide suitcases which are just the right size for check in. So, you should have plenty of choices, whether you want hardshell or softshell luggage. Look at dimensions and consider the weight of a suitcase before you buy it.

If it's really heavy, its weight will mean that you have less weight for belongings. The total weight of checked baggage is based on the weight of the suitcase, plus the weight of what's inside.


Most carry on luggage ranges in price from one hundred and fifty dollars to five hundred dollars.

When shopping for carry on luggage, you should know that the majority of airlines in America, including Delta, United and American, permit passengers to bring on carry on luggage which doesn't exceed twenty-two inches long by fourteen inches wide by nine inches high. A couple of other US airlines (JetBlue and Southwest) allow passengers to bring on bags which are bigger (twenty-four inches by sixteen inches by ten inches).

When looking around for the right bag, keep in mind that the dimensions listed should include any parts of the bag which stick out, such as wheels. Sometimes, companies that sell these bags add measurements which don't include wheels or other protruding elements. This is too bad, as airline personnel do count handles and wheels when measuring carry on bags.

We think that choosing carry on luggage with compression and expansion features is smart. A lot of bags have these features nowadays and they allow users to expand the bags when they need more room for belongings, and then compress them when the extra space isn't needed.


We often see people bringing backpacks or other forms of personal luggage on flights, in addition to their carry-on bags. The personal luggage is typically stored under a plane seat during landing and takeoff. Backpacks are popular forms of personal luggage. If you're looking for this type of personal luggage, make sure that anything that you choose will fit under the plane seat in front of you.

American Airlines sets a size maximum of eighteen by fourteen by eight inches for personal luggage. It also need to fit under a plane seat ahead of your own plane seat. Certain items don't count as personal luggage, including bags for diapers, safety seats for children and medical/mobility devices.

A backpack is a good choice for personal luggage. Look for a practical style which is made from tough, weather-resistant fabric, which contains lots of compartments for travel essentials, such as passports, bank cards, snacks and books. Compartments and pockets on the inside and outside of backpacks make it easier to stay organized. Also, your personal luggage should come from a trusted manufacturer with a strong and positive reputation.


If you're in a hurry and you need to make your flight, you'll find a 2-wheel design useful. This style is great for moving up and down stairs and it's also a good choice for terrain which is uneven. A two-wheel suitcase will typically be lighter in weight than a four-wheel style, and it will feature wheels which are sturdy, big and protected. The wheels will be recessed, so they don't stick out. This makes these bags easier to stow away in overhead storage compartments on planes.

With a four-wheel piece of luggage, it's really easy to move the bag around. The ground will support the bag's weight and you'll be able to pull and push it with a single finger. People who have shoulder or back issues will appreciate the ease with which they may maneuver these types of suitcases.

A 4-wheel design will be best for flatter surfaces, such as airport flooring or airplane aisles. The type of suitcase is stable, so it's less prone to tipping over, even when other stuff is stacked on top of it. Those who are elderly may find 4-wheel styles the most practical. However, you should be aware that the wheels will count as part of the height and weight of your bag.


A lot of people who don't have a ton of free space for storing luggage tend to slide it under their beds. If your bed doesn't offer enough space underneath, you may modify the bed with a bed riser in order to create more space for your luggage. If you have a bed skirt, it will conceal the stored luggage very well. Also, if you fill the suitcases with items that you don't frequently use but want to keep, you'll be able to de-clutter your home as you store your luggage.

When storing luggage, consider mildew. Climate may factor in here. For example, if you're planning to store your bags in a basement or attic, you'll find that these environments get humid and this sets the stage for mildew. To deter mildew, look for space which are well-ventilated.


Last, but not least, you should always check warranty data before you buy. We recommend not buying luggage which doesn't feature a long and strong warranty. It's quite possible to find a piece of luggage with a great warranty. Some luggage manufacturers, such as Samsonite, offer Limited Global Warranties which cover repairs or replacements if the baggage has manufacturing defects. This is the type of protection that you deserve as a consumer.

A piece of luggage should last a long time. A good company will stand behind what it sells by offering a great warranty which gives the consumer recourse if there is a problem.

Other Things to Think About

We've covered the basics here and offered a lot of practical advice regarding luggage of different types. One other tip that we'd like to add is to check customers reviews which are posted online before you buy. You'll gain valuable insight in terms of how specific bags or suitcases perform out there in the real world.

Your goal should be to find a bag or suitcase which earns stellar reviews from hundreds of customers. These types of bags and suitcases really deliver for customers and this is why they earn accolades, day in and day out. Conversely, you should stay away from bags which don't get superb reviews.

Once you've found a piece of luggage that you love, price it at an assortment of online retailers. This is the key to smart comparison-shopping. Some online retailers offer better prices than others. As long as you choose a trusted online retailer with a good reputation and genuine brands, you will be safe ordering from that company. If you don't compare prices across a host of online retailers, you may end up paying more than you have to.

If the appearance of luggage is important to you, you should be able to find some designer styles which are very fashion-forward. Luggage comes in a variety of colors and there are status symbol brands, such as Louis Vuitton, which offer true designer style for a higher price tag. You'll have so many choices, whether you love traditional and classic luggage or want something ultra-modern which is a bit bolder and brighter.

Now that you know how to buy luggage, why not shop for it today? Buy it online or right in your own community. It's possible to save money by shopping online. Another strategy is to research luggage online and then buy in your own community. However, bricks-and-mortar retailers tend to charge more for luggage, due to higher overhead.

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