I have worked for over five years now out on the ramp. My job consists of loading mail, freight, unloading bags, transferring bags, as well as loading bags in carts, cans, bins and onto belts. During this time it’s occurred to me that I’ve seen a lot of luggage. It’s also occurred to me, that what I now can’t un-know because of the countless hours working with luggage, may be of some use to you, our reader. So if you’ve ever wondered what to look for when purchasing luggage, we’ve got you covered!
The two major points in the life of a piece of luggage are this: 1) How does your luggage look? (style) and 2) Does it do what you need it to do, comfortably? (function).
Style and function. It all comes back to style and function. Luggage usually ends up being something bought quickly and last minute, and then used for far longer than imagined during the purchase process. But I can attest, take some time with your luggage purchase now, and you won’t have to be luggage shopping again for awhile! So with that in mind, here’s what to look for when purchasing your next piece of luggage.
Luggage Style Tip:
In reality, luggage is stacked three levels high. Think of the game Tetris here. So when you are picking out your next piece of luggage, ensure that it has a solid frame of support (it must support your contents plus the potential weight of two additional bags on top of it) and focus less on a “light-weight” bag. (I’ll have more information about “light weight” bags in posts coming soon, but in a couple words, stay away)
Almost any piece of luggage looks good on the rack, but how does it look after it comes out of the stack? New, any piece of luggage looks great! There’s no wear, no tear, no missing zippers and all is well. The true mark of style for any piece of luggage has more to do with how it looks after your 20th flight, and nothing to do with how it looks before your first.
The good news for you is the fact that the only luggage I encounter is used luggage. I’ve put together a list of luggage do’s and luggage dont’s, and over the course of the next few months, I will be filling you in on all the little things that come together in making the right luggage purchase. Certain bags made by certain manufacturers and brands that focus on quality materials and craftsmanship will have you looking better for longer, or more plainly, just looking better all around.
The bag you use makes a statement about you long before you get the chance to make one about yourself. My goal is to make sure that your luggage has your back, and keeps you classy for years to come!
A good looking bag does nothing for you if it doesn’t accomplish what you need from it. Do you have to sit on your bag to zip it shut? Use a piece of rope because the handle broke off? Find your prized possessions broken when you’ve reached your final destination? If so, the piece of luggage is likely the culprit.
Bags that are too big, too small, too malleable or just generally not reinforced are problematic. Too big and the luggage isn’t properly packed up…your items playing pinball for the duration of the trip. Too small and you run the risk of blowing zippers, busting out of pockets, and potentially losing a wheel. Some individuals use bags that aren’t meant as luggage (garbage bags, IKEA sacks, anything made out of vinyl, pack-and-play-crib bags, the clear plastic zipper bag comforters come in) to transport their goods through the skies, and while we always try our best to do a fine job, there are things that we can’t control, the bag breaks down, and your items barely make it to their final destination.
Not making light of these scenarios, but simply saying I’ve witnessed these bags in use outside of their intended purpose. And if you can, I’d recommend staying tuned to find better alternatives. I think of it this way: I travel as much as I possibly can, so, if I do my best to take care of your luggage, there is a solid chance others will do their best to take care of my luggage. It’s not always that simple, but, I’m running on over five years, 20+ countries and 30+ states with the same carry-on…so it is doable!
Luggage Functionality Tip:
Don’t overpack. To maintain optimal functionality and the use of all zippers and handles on your bag, treat “heavy” stickers as a warning sign. No, not warning of impending fees and fines at the luggage counter; rather, it is a warning to you, on behalf of the airlines, that your suitcase won’t hold up long-term under its current conditions. The industry standard currently for the airlines are that bags need to hold up to 50 lbs. So, just because it fits okay, doesn’t mean the manufacturer tested the bag for that “heavy” weight. It might work okay in a one-off scenario, but if you maintain those weights, wheels will pop off, handles will break down, and zippers will bust out.
I hope you’ve found these base tips helpful, and if so I will be breaking down what is essentially a collective guide for you, our reader, to have the best rubric possible, in place for your next luggage purchase.
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