Luggage is something that, in our opinion, can make or break a trip.
We’ve both travelled the world extensively and have definitely done our fair share of lugging a huge backpack around. Thankfully, those times are over for us. No more backpacks. Ever.
In recent years, how we travel has changed and we’ve become much more picky about the luggage we use. We believe that luggage should be lightweight, easy to manoeuvre through a busy airport and easy to lift should you need to.
We’ll reveal our personal luggage choices shortly, but first, we wanted to ask other seasoned travellers their thoughts. After all, everyone’s needs and wants are different…and we’ve all had our fair share of luggage disasters. Like the time a whole shampoo bottle exploded in my bag! Eugh.
Here’s what our fellow globetrotters found to be the best and worst luggage for travel…
Best Luggage: Backpack
Sharon from Where’s Sharon
My overall preferred luggage type is a backpack that takes maximum advantage of the carry on rules so I don’t have to check it in. I have young kids though and when travelling with babies and toddlers, we do find a good suitcase necessary, as there is just too much baby stuff to take with us for a backpack.
I hate anything that is hard to transport whether that’s a suitcase that isn’t easy to wheel around or a backpack that isn’t appropriate for my size and back or doesn’t have a good supportive system. There is such a big difference in comfort level to carrying around a backpack that fits well versus one that doesn’t.
My biggest luggage disaster was the first time I set off to backpack Europe. I borrowed a backpack from a friend – a tall, male friend. It was far too big for me and was higher than me when I had it on! I always felt like I was about to topple over and I struggled to get it on and off. Since then, I have been more than happy to spend whatever it takes for quality that fits me. I especially love backpacks especially made for women and find these extra comfortable.
Best Luggage: Wheeled Travel Pack
Paula from Contented Traveller
I am not that tall, much like the lovely Victoria, so the choice of luggage is dictated by what I can carry, or lift onto a train. It seems unfair that I ask Gordon to lift my bag, so we each have a soft-sided 80-litre Caribee.
These are on wheels, which is a must, but just the two wheels so you can drag it. I cannot get the hang of the four wheel ones. They seem to be a little like shopping trolley, but I am prepared to accept that this could be just me. I also have a soft-sided backpack as a carry-on, again with wheels, when we go for longer trips. I would not want to carry a backpack at all. I have been there and done that. Just ask my back.
I have had one disaster that made me think about getting a hard sided case. I returned from Samoa, where everyone was bringing food back. The bag on top of mine leaked fish stuff all over my soft-sided bag. No amount of cleaning and fumigating could get the stink out. It turned me off fish for a long time. It went to the recycling tip.
Another disaster was when I lost the keys to the lock of my bag in Sri Lanka when we were staying somewhere quite remote. I had to ask a local farmer could I borrow his machete, and I busted the bitch open, but in the process ruined the bag forever. We’ve had our Caribees for ages now, and so far so good. I think they should pay me for advertising! 😉
Best Luggage: 360 Spinner
Elaina from The Freedom Travellers
When I booked my first overseas round the world backpacking trip, I obviously did what most first-time backpackers do… go to the shops and try and buy the biggest backpack that I could possibly carry. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.
What I quickly realised, and I’m sure every traveller has been guilty of, is if you have the space, you’ll inevitably use every single bit of it. The result? My bag was so heavy it was a complete nightmare every time I had to carry it. And like every foolish backpacker out there, I had my shoes, sleeping bag, and other random items attached to the outside of my bag to complete the ‘packhorse chic’ look.
For my next big trip overseas, I traded in my old supersized bag, and went for a much smaller model. Ahhh…sweet relief. My back was grateful I’d downsized.
Now, after multiple trips around the world, I’ve ditched using backpacks all together. Call me a snob, but since we travel a lot, I think investing in solid luggage is a necessity. I’m totally in love with the 4-wheel soft-case spinner range from Samsonite.
I know peeps say that the 4-wheels can be flimsy, but in my experience that’s only applicable with the cheap brands. After all, you get what you pay for!
My top tip for buying luggage is to take your time. Go into the store, feel the bags, check all the zippers and different compartments and think about how you’ll use each space. Think about if the bag will be practical when it’s full, will it hold up in the rain, does it fit plane size regulations, is there enough space for your laptop and where will it sit, does it have some external pockets to hold items that you want to access quickly…and so on!
Best Luggage: Suitcase
Carole from Travels with Carole
My favorite suitcase is one whose top zips open to reveal one large hole that I can fill. I want to be able to set it on a dresser or luggage rack for convenient use.
I’ve had three of these so far, each one smaller than the one before. My first one was referred to as “The Beast” because it was so big and got so heavy when packed. The one I have now is Delsey brand—French, I think—and it has two flat pockets on the outside that come in very handy to store papers I collect on my trips.
When I replace my current suitcase, the new one will—true to tradition—be even smaller than it is. I don’t like the kind of suitcase that zips open to reveal two equal smaller voids, because that style doesn’t fit open on a luggage rack. However, I’m in the market for a new bag and I’d like to replace my two wheels with four wheels, which that style often has.
Does anyone know if I can have my cake and eat it too in this case?
The overall verdict…
Four avid travellers. Four different perspectives. My advice when looking for luggage is to do your research. I didn’t do this when I first bought luggage and just went with the biggest and the cheapest…not a good idea!
The best way we’ve found to effectively research is to look online first for brands and styles you like the look of, ask around in Facebook groups to see what other people think of them and then head to a bricks and mortar store to road test them in person.
Recently I’ve taken to using a High Sierra Zoe Back Pack (specifically designed for chicks) for my carry on. It’s a laptop back pack so I can have my lappy in there plus my other essential carry on items! I’ve also added an AT 8 Wheeled Duffle from their adventure range to our check in luggage and it will also pass for carry-on if we are taking camera equipment and the extra bits and pieces we travel with these days. This is also my fave for long weekends now too.
Elaina is all about her 360 wheels; I’m about the sturdy indestructible luggage that I can throw around a bit and it still looks cool! Each to their own.
So, what luggage do you like to travel with and why? Do you have a favourite brand or style? Have you ever lost your luggage or had something disastrous happen to it?
Comment below and share your experience with us!
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