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Hard, Soft or on Wheels: Choosing Your Perfect Luggage for Travel

It’s time for a vacation. You want your luggage to keep up with your busy lifestyle, take a beating, and keep on ticking. Here’s what savvy jetsetters do when they need to buy new luggage.

What Baggage Goes Through

Before you choose a new piece of luggage, know that your luggage is probably subjected to extreme conditions. A lot of baggage in airports is kicked, dragged, stepped on, stood on, and thrown into luggage compartments. Many airline employees and especially baggage carriers are pressed for time and are under a lot of stress to keep the plane on schedule. So, they stuff the luggage in there, almost like they’re playing Tetris.

Most savvy jet setters do not buy the best, most expensive baggage because it’s often not worth getting dinged up and mishandled by a minimum wage employee at the airport. No, what they buy instead is durable luggage.

What Do You Need It For?

There are all types of luggage out there. What do you need yours to do for you? Do you want something that you can easily carry it along with you on the plane? Do you want something that will hold up in the baggage claim area and in the cargo area of the plane?

Do you need something you can easily lift, or will you have other people lift it for you everywhere you go?

If your suitcase is primarily for road trips, will it fit in the vehicle?

If it’s for cruising, is it appropriately sized and is it waterproof?

What Size Do You Need?

Get a size that you feel will best fit your needs and your budget. If you’re like most people, your style of travel fluctuates between flights, road trips, and staycations, and the odd cruise now and then. You want something that’s perfect for all occasions.

Rather than buy 4 different suitcases, you can buy something that’s going to serve you well in nearly every environment. There are great tips on choosing luggage to suit you on My-Travel-Luggage.

Most U.S. airlines restrict sizes to 22 inches (22”x 14″ x 9″) and must not exceed 45 linear inches. That means a combined length + width + height of 22” + 14” + 9” = 45 linear (or 115 centimeters: 23 x 36 x 56 cm) in most cases.

Keep in mind, this is not weight, just size. An airline may also impose weight limits. For checked bags, you need to look at bags no larger than 22 inches. For adults, 24 inches is too small so look in the 27-29 inch range. These are very popular. If you go over 29 inches, you’re either a business-class traveler, or you’re going to end up with an oversized bag that gets dinged with additional fees almost every time due to the additional weight.

Two Wheels Vs Four

Two-wheeled suitcases are great because they don’t put a lot of stress on your back or shoulders. They’re easy to wheel around, and you can set them down without too much trouble. The downside is that they use directional wheels which only move in one plane of motion (usually).

Four-wheel suitcases, or “spinners,” don’t have this problem. Their downside is that their wheels are externally mounted so they’re more prone to snapping off. They also have trouble remaining stationary on an incline without laying it down or bracing it.

Hard Shell vs. Soft shell

Travel can take its toll on your gear so the make and build or your suitcase is important for longevity. If you’re struggling between the hard vs. soft shell case, here are some things to think about.

Soft shell cases are lighter, and more flexible. They conform to tight spaces like the back of your car or in a cramped cargo area. This is great if you tend to overpack your suitcase.

The downside is that there’s not much protection in a soft shell case, so you can’t really put anything in there that might break.

Hard shell cases are better when it comes to protecting your stuff, and they can’t be ripped into with a knife, like soft shell cases (better protection from thieves). You can also sit on them while you wait. They stack nicely, and are typically waterproof. But they’re not as flexible, not expandable, and you can’t fit as much in them. Also, they might not fit in tight spaces.


If you’re looking for recommendations on price, some people have found that you can get the best deal by sticking in the $200 to $400 price range. If you stick in this price range, the same companies get mentioned over and over again.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

I’m Eliza, and not that long ago I thought that all luggage was pretty much the same. However, when I was planning a longer trip, I decided to look for a sturdy and reliable suitcase that would not fall apart after two flights, and I learned that luggage actually differs a lot. Basically, that’s how my site was born.

Luggage Photos CC THORGarry Knight.


  1. Actually, I agree with the savvy jetsetters ;-) No matter how fancy or special your luggage looks like when you buy it, it doesn’t feel all that great when you take it from the conveyor belt and it’s trashed due to poor quality. Not so fancy then…

    • Absolutely – I was so glad to have my hard cover suitcase with me recently – pulled it off the conveyor belt and it had been beaten up a little, though still in tact!

  2. Thanks for giving ideas about selection of Perfect Luggage for our Travel.

    • You’re welcome Varun! So glad the article was helpful for you :)

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