Tips for Buying Luggage for Summer Vacation

Looking to buy luggage for your next summer adventure? For more summer travel tips, including what to look for when buying luggage, visit The Scenic Route.

If you’re planning a summer trip and are in the market for new luggage, take a moment to consider all of the available options. Not all trips require the same type of suitcase and certain styles may be better suited for certain trips.

Read this guide to discover the pros and cons of different luggage types and to determine the best choice for your summer vacation.

Here are some key questions to ask when shopping for a suitcase:

What size bag should I buy?

Ideally, decide which items you need to bring on a trip before buying a suitcase. You may not need as much space as you think. The more empty space you have in a suitcase, the more likely you will be to over pack and take unnecessary items.

Tip: follow the advice outlined in this post to learn how to avoid over packing. You may be surprised: with the right planning, all you need for most trips is a carryon suitcase.

Airlines are constantly changing their baggage allowances, so be sure to check your airline’s website in advance to ensure your new suitcase meets their guidelines.

Consider whether the suitcase is small and lightweight enough for you to lift and carry on your own. A case that is very large and cumbersome is difficult to carry upstairs, for example. Also, if you're planning to use public transportation, there may be limited storage space.

How much should my bag weigh?

How much should my bag weigh?

The average weight allowed for checked baggage on a flight tends to be 50 pounds; for a carryon, the limit is generally 10 pounds. So avoid buying carryon luggage that weighs more than 7 pounds; otherwise the suitcase will account for a good portion of your weight allowance before you even pack the bag! Plus, it limits the amount of things you can pack. Ideally, look for a carryon suitcase that weighs less than 5 pounds, or a regular size suitcase that weighs less than 10 pounds.

Which features do I need?

Suitcases come equipped with a variety of features; whether they are important or necessary depends on your travel habits. Things to take into consideration include wheels, handles, color, compartments, built-in security, wheel locks and expansion, to name a few.

Which features do I need?

Generally speaking, lockable zippers or built-in locks are great for keeping your belongings safe. A side handle is a convenient, but often overlooked feature. If you’ll be using your laptop on vacation, look for a carryon with secure space for your electronics.

But remember: the more bells and whistles, the heavier the suitcase.

How important is durability?

How important is durability?

The one sure-fire way to put a damper on your trip is for luggage handles to break, wheels to fall off or fabric to rip. You don't necessarily need to buy expensive luggage, but you should buy based on the types of places you travel and the frequency of your trips.

For example, if you travel to destinations where you’ll be frequently rolling your bag over rough terrain, then focus on quality, well-made wheels or use a backpack instead of a wheeled bag.

If you stick to places with smooth floors and paved streets, standard wheels are probably sufficient.

If you're a frequent flyer, invest in quality luggage with a lifetime warranty. For long-term travel, a durable bag is a must!

What type of bag should I buy?

What type of bag should I buy?

Now that you know which features to keep an eye out for, evaluate which type of bag best suits your trip.

1. Destination

The first thing to consider when choosing a suitcase is your destination. Will you be traveling to cosmopolitan cities, the great outdoors or to small towns?

For an adventurous trip that will involve extended periods in the great outdoors, such as an overland trip to East Africa or a multi-day hike in Peru, it’s probably best to skip wheels altogether and opt for a backpack instead.

You may struggle with wheeled suitcases in Europe due to cobblestone streets, railway staircases and narrow hotel stairs. Opt for wheeled duffel to maneuver your belongings with ease.

Tip: you can avoid many issues with wheels by minimizing the weight of your baggage. If it’s lightweight, then it will be easier to manage.

2. Itinerary

If you’re going to a single destination, you won’t be moving your bag from place to place. While traveling carryon-only is usually recommended, you would be fine taking a larger suitcase for a single-destination trip.

However, if you plan to visit several destinations and will only stay a few days in each location, then choose a bag that’s as small as possible. You’ll only need three outfits, which you can rotate between your stops. Just be sure to choose items you can mix and match. When you’re moving from place to place, the last thing you want to deal with is a heavy oversized bag, even if you’re traveling in an organized coach excursion. Dragging a large suitcase in and out of a bus every other day is exhausting!

The same rule applies if you’re planning a backpacking trip across multiple countries. Unless you’re staying for an extended period of time in each place, your bag will quickly feel like it weighs double when you’re hotel hopping. A backpack, duffel, or strapped suitcase might be the smartest choices for fast-paced trips. Just grab and go!

3. Trip Length

The next thing to keep in mind is the length of your trip. Are you traveling for days, weeks, or months?

If you pack efficiently, this won’t necessarily affect the size of your luggage, however it will affect the quality. For trips that will last longer than two weeks, invest in durable luggage. You don’t want to deal with broken handles, wheels, or rips in the fabric at the start of a long journey.

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About the Author

Alexandra Jimenez

About the Author

Alexandra Jimenez teaches women how to pack in a light, stylish and efficient way on Travel Fashion Girl, the No.1 blog for female travelers. Originally from Los Angeles, she quit her corporate fashion job in 2008 to travel the world and has since been to 45 countries and counting.