Choose luggage with form and function in mind
WHEN it comes to luggage, keep one thing in mind: The root of the word is “lug,” as in, you actually have to lug that thing around. So you’d better get something that you won’t want to leave on the carousel at LAX or toss off the train as you depart from Avignon. There are countless different styles, sizes, prices and levels of quality when it comes to luggage.
The bigger the bag, the more you’ll be tempted to pack and the more likely you are to incur outrageous overweight charges. Remember, too, that while aviation authorities may approve certain sizes for carry-on luggage, the actual amount of space on the airplane itself may be quite a bit smaller. Also, taxis overseas tend to be much smaller than in North America, and your 73cm spinner simply might not fit into the trunk of that tiny Fiat. Go smaller than you think you’ll need, and chances are it’ll be just the right size. Get tough
The downside of buying cheap, lightweight bags is that they can often be flimsy, poorly constructed and unable to withstand the duress of modern travel. Hard-sided bags tend to be more durable, but more limiting. If you prefer a soft-sided bag, look for a hardy nylon material, preferably waterproof, with taped seams to reinforce the zippers and piping or welts to protect the corners on the outside of the bag. Also look for fibreglass frames, which are both tough and lightweight.
In addition: Make sure the handle is sturdy, firmly attached, the right height for you, and that it feels good in your hand. Shoulder straps for duffels, backpacks and garment bags should be wide, padded and reinforced where they are attached to the bag. Wheels should roll smoothly, be spaced as widely apart as possible and, ideally, be recessed into the frame of the bag so they are somewhat protected. Lock it up Do not even consider checking a bag without a lock. It’ll protect your stuff from thieves, but also keep your bag from popping open mid-transit. And that includes your carry-on — more and more, travellers are expected to check carry-on and laptop bags at the gate, and you simply don’t want to leave your valuables vulnerable to temptation or bad luck. Make sure your lock is TSA-approved, which means if border guards need to inspect your bag’s contents, they can relock it instead of breaking off the lock and leaving you vulnerable to pilfering.