Travel Style – Baggage Can Be Good…
by: Carolyn W. Paddock
A warm Medjet welcome to our newest guest Blogger, Carolyn W. Paddock. After more than eighteen years in commercial and corporate aviation, Carolyn brings her expertise to the world via her travel blog: In-Flight Insider. Based on her philosophy that not only should safety and comfort be mandatory, but glamour and elegance should be too. In-Flight Insider provides travelers with the latest luxury trends and practical insider tips on travel preparation, health, safety, style, and products– all designed to upgrade their flying and travel experience. Carolyn has created a resource for the discriminating traveler that combines her hands-on experience gained with over nine million miles in the air with her knowledge of the most practical and luxurious travel products the world has to offer.
Top 5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Luggage
Whether you’re buying your luggage on line or in a store, there are many options to consider before making a purchase. There are so many individual considerations, that making a decision can be difficult.
Do I want two wheels, four wheels, or none? Should I buy a large garment bag or a smaller one that holds only a suit or two? Will I be checking this bag or carrying it on board? Will I be flying commercially, privately or both?
Whatever your travel patterns and personal needs, there are specific criteria you should always consider. Keep in mind, you don’t always have to spend a lot to get a good bag, so long as it meets certain standards.
1. CARRY-ON LUGGAGE
If possible, you should test-roll the bag in person before buying it to make sure it’s comfortable for you. I’ve tried many different roll-aboards over the years, and these are the criteria and potential pitfalls I’ve discovered.
- For roll-aboard luggage I prefer soft-sided bags because they’re generally lighter, have more pockets to store things and usually expand a bit if necessary.
- Remember to get proper measurements. To be allowed on most commercial airlines, your carry-on must be no larger than 22 inches.
- Bags that expand are nice, but remember that once it’s expanded the bag may no longer fit through security or into the overhead compartment, then you will have to check it.
- Make sure the handle is the right length and comfortable for you to use. I’m tall, which means I have a long stride. If the handle is too short, the bag hits my heel which will make it tip over. I’ve also found that cushioned handles are more comfortable for your hand than hard the ones, particularly if you’re wheeling your bag long distances in airports.
- Extending and lowering the handle—not always so gently—puts a lot of stress at the point where it meets the body of the bag. Make sure that spot is reinforced and sturdy enough to withstand the frequent wear and tear.
- I prefer a bag that has a separate suit compartment. If I don’t need the space for clothing, I take out the folded separator and use it for shoes and other items to keep them separate from my clothes.
- Examine the wheels. They will be either flat or curved, like those on in-line skates. I prefer curved wheels because they’re generally quieter and roll more smoothly on sidewalks and airport floors.
2. LUGGAGE HOOKS FOR ROLL-ABOARD BAGS
- Most roll-on luggage comes with these hooks and are a blessing if you have a second bag.
- Secure the J-hook on top of the larger bag and hang the second one in front of it. You won’t have to struggle with two separate bags, you won’t have to juggle trying to balance one on the other, and the weight will be better distributed for easier maneuvering.
- If your bag doesn’t have one, you can buy a universal J-hook on line. They’re not expensive and worth every penny.
3. CHECKED LUGGAGE
- If you’re planning to check your bag, a hard-sided suitcase or roll-on will be sturdiest and withstand the most wear and tear, although a soft-sided bags made of durable material will also travel well.
- If the bag is soft-sided with a frame, make sure the frame is durable and the material tough enough to be virtually indestructible.
- Decorative buckles and protruding wheels are generally not a good idea because they can get snagged and damage your bag in the process of loading and unloading.
- Even though you won’t be carrying it, you need to consider the weight of the bag itself because airlines now impose weight restrictions and additional fees for overweight luggage.
4. DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
- Most of the modern synthetic materials used for luggage are extremely light and durable.
- Check to be sure both the zippers and the stitching are as indestructible and the material the bag is made from. The last thing you want is for your bag to pop open, spilling out your belongings, because either the zipper or the stitching gives way—which can happen, especially if they’re strained by over packing.
- If your bag has latch closings rather than a zipper, make sure the latches of sturdy and won’t get stuck.
- “Designer” leather luggage is often both beautiful and beautifully constructed, but it’s also expensive and quite heavy. If weight and expense don’t factor into your decision-making, fine leather luggage may be well worth the investment.
- For obvious reasons, an expensive, beautiful piece of luggage should probably stay with you at all times. Therefore, this kind of suitcase would best be used for private flights.
5. COLORS AND PATTERNS
- When it comes to luggage, basic black is a thing of the past. Bags now come in a wide variety of colors and designs, which makes them a lot easier to identify. (I admit that I’ve inadvertently walked off with another person’s suitcase, and if you’ve ever been in the position standing at the carousel when the last bag rolls around and it looks exactly like yours, except that it isn’t, you know how awful that feels). When making your color and design choice, remember that:
- Darker colors are less likely than light ones to show the frequent abuse your luggage is subjected to when you travel.
- If you do select a dark suitcase, mark it in a way that will clearly differentiate it from other, similar bags. I tie colorful ribbons to both the top and side handles of mine so that I can spot it easily from any angle.