Anyone who travels on a regular basis will tell you that there are some really important criteria to look out for when it comes to putting together the perfect set of luggage. You’ll need bags that are sturdy, intuative, look professional, and are made to carry not just clothing, but electronics, accessories, groooming kits, files and documents, and all the other odds and ends that, without the right luggage end up at the bottom of your case when you really need it. Here are a few things to consider before you buy:
Materials: We advocate for carry-on size bags as often as possible, but if you’re going long-haul, there may be no way around that large suitcase. With tough space-age materials that will withstand the abuses of foreign travel, extra wheels, and very little weight, the newest cases on the market are nothing like the heavy, awkward bags of the past, and can make your journey a real pleasure. Do be prepared to spend more for better quality, you won’t regret it (anyone who has lost a wheel or had a handle come off in their hand during a terminal transfer will agree) Hard shell cases will protect your wardrobe much better than a soft garment bag (and you won’t have to worry if it’s raining as your luggage is loaded on the plane) and materials like polycarbonate or aluminum will protect even packed electronics.
Durability: In this category we’re talking handles and wheels. Try to get rubber-treaded, ball-bearing wheels that rotate 360 degrees, and if possible, avoid wheels mounted in a plastic housing, which can crack. Look for at least a three year warranty, though the high-end companies usually offer lifetime. Another thing to test before you buy is the telescopic handle – a feature that can be extremely frustrating when it starts to malfunction. Check if it can be easily extended and retracted in a hurry, then put something heavy in the suitcase and pick it up by the handle (which you’re not supposed to do, technically, but it happens all the time in real life)
Security: If you’re nervous about lost or stolen luggage, you should look into the newest luggage tech. Companies like Tumi offer a Tracer program; register the unique code affixed permanently to your suitcase and Tumi will assist in tracking and identifying your stuff. Or if you’re looking for a DIY option, TrackDot sells a tracker you can throw in your luggage and follow on your smartphone. If you’re just planning on sticking an old-fashioned lock on your bag, you should be getting a ‘TSA’ approved model – locks that can be opened by security officers using universal “master” keys.