Tips on Choosing Luggage

What kind of checked luggage should I bring?

That’s a tough question to answer and ultimately a very personal one (kinda like boxers of briefs!)  We can give you some guidelines and examples, however. Keep in mind that if you already have a suitcase, it will most likely be just fine, so no need to go out and buy something new for this trip! 

Wheels vs No Wheels

There will never be a time on our trips where you will have to carry your luggage for long distances, so we don’t see the benefit of a “backpack”-style piece with straps. We think wheels just make life easier 99.8% of the time.

2 Wheels vs 4 Wheels

Two-wheelers are harder and harder to come by these days, as most modern suitcases feature 4 wheels that glide like butter though airports. However, keep in mind you won’t always be on a lovely slick airport floor, and those tiny wheels don’t do well on rougher surfaces. If you are investing in luggage and know you’ll be frequenting places with rough terrain (like European cobblestone), 2-wheelers have an advantage. If you already have a 4-wheel luggage (or know that most of your trips will be in places with even terrain), they will be fine for any of our trips (because you won’t be dragging them all over kingdom come).

How big should my luggage be?

It’s tempting to get a bigger suitcase so you don’t have to cram everything inside and sit on top of it to zip it up. However, keeping yourself to a moderately sized suitcase will inherently make it easier to stick to weight limits (50 lbs/23 kg on many international flights, but 44 lb/kg for most overseas domestic and even some international flights, like India to Nepal). Staying in the 24-26” range can only benefit you!

Soft-sided vs hard-sided (aka, weight)

For most journeys, we don’t have any big preference between hard-sided and soft-sided pieces. The only thing to consider is the overall weight of your luggage, and many of the new hard-sided suitcases are incredibly light! The lighter your actual luggage is, the more souvenirs you can bring home, right?  Right!

The situations where soft-sided bags are preferred (or even required) are itineraries where we drive from place to place, such and Kenyan safaris and Mongolian trips. 

If you are looking to buy a new piece, discount places like Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc, often have good selections for great prices.

Basically, our only real advice is to keep your checked luggage piece to a ~25” bag. Everything beyond that is a personal preference.

Many people ask what bags we have, since we’ve lived out of a suitcase for 4 years now. These Eagle Creek bags are perfect for our lifestyles, as they have 2 hardy wheels and a few convenient outside pockets. We are also huge fans of packing cubes, which I describe further in this blog post.

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