We all have our preferences for luggage, some non-negotiables and other things that would be nice-to-have as we drag half our wardrobes around the world – or not!
I’ve seen bags come and bags go in my 16 years on the road (or in the sky, as it more likely is) as a travel writer and blogger so I have developed a few necessities that I now look for when I’m about to replace a suitcase.
Here’s what I look for in great travel luggage:
Checked in luggage
1 I like 4 wheels. You can always tip it over and drag it on 2 when that’s easier, like on carpet in hotel hallways, but most of the time 4 wheels is just so much easier. You can also throw a jacket or neck pillow through the handle and add no extra weight as the bag supports all the weight itself. It always amazes me how the wheels are not the things that get damaged either, so don’t fear the wheel if you haven’t had them before, they must test them under extreme brutality!
2 I like hard luggage or a combination of hard/soft. We currently rotate three 4-wheeled bags between us, my husband and I, and my oldie but goody has a fabric centre with a hard outer shell just along the edges. It means it’s more flexible to force shut (ahem when need be), although it also has an extender zip out.
3 I like to have the ability to zip open an extension if I over shop!
4 I also like a bag that unzips into two halves and lies flat. The downside is that it takes up more room when it’s open and it also doesn’t fit very well on a luggage rack that some hotels provide. But it means I can be very neat and ordered in my packing with shoes and gym gear on one side, plus a jacket and things I won’t wear daily (like the gym gear!) and everything else on the other. Or if I’m travelling in different climates, I put my warmer clothes on one side and summer on the other so everything is easy to find.
5 I don’t have a preference when it comes to combination or padlock, just as long as it is an authorised TSA lock so customs can inspect it if need be without breaking the lock. Note: my loose lip glosses thrown in at the last minute caused my luggage to be inspected on two trips (before I realised what had been moved)! The annoying thing is that TSA “forgot” to put my lock back on. All care, no responsibility they claimed when I Tweeted them about it. Hurrumph!
Best Cabin bag
I have a soft cabin bag from MacPac as part of their new travel range that I am about to try which can take a laptop and charges in a separate section to clothes and it has little zipped compartments for toiletries, smalls and even a separate shoe bag, but until I have given it a while, my ultimate cabin bag has 2 wheels. I’d be happy with 4 though!
It has pockets on the outside as well as inside so I can delve into sections of it easily while on the plane.
I’d like to be able to store a water bottle on the outside. Mine currently doesn’t, but this would be handy. Just ensure the bottle is empty when you pass through xray screening and fill it up airside.
I am excited to say that I have opened a little online shop “Travel Must Haves” and am selling some of the best luggage I’ve found, as well as my favourite long haul essential, the squishy neck pillow with the all-important dome in front so you can spin it around.
If you’re in New Zealand and you like the ease of shopping online, you have some great pieces to choose from.