Having the right luggage for your next adventure will make your journey so much easier. I’ve made all the mistakes before.
I remember my first business trip after college, when all I had was a backpack. I boarded the plane and ended up with a very wrinkled suit and everything in the backpack needed to be re-ironed. Or, the time I lugged a massive suitcase clear across the city of Rome. I had so many bruises on my legs and it looked like I had been attacked.
Why Do You Need Solid Luggage?
I’ve learned from experience that it pays to do your research and pick out sturdy and reliable luggage. I once had to wait ages at the airport conveyor belt, only to find what was left of my suitcase in a giant plastic bin. Needless to say it was awful.
Your travel buddy takes a beating, which is why you need something that will last but which will also be flexible in terms of your travel needs. One size doesn’t fit all when shopping for luggage. We’ve made it easy for you to find your next travel companion with this guide.
Carry On or Checked Luggage?
The first thing to ask yourself is what size luggage you’ll need. If you’re packing for a long weekend, or even up to a week, with a little planning you can easily pack in a carry on. If you’re going to be traveling for longer than a week, you’ll probably need something bigger.
Embrace the minimalist lifestyle!
Which Traveler Are You?
Not sure what you're going to need on your next adventure? Take a look at what kind of traveler you are and we'll help you find the perfect luggage companion to join you.
The Day Trip Traveler
Sling backpacks are versatile enough that you can take them on your next day trip or even on your commute to school or the office. It’s important to look for cross-body bags that not only come in the color and styles you’re looking for, but which also have practical details, such as security, organization, and comfort. We’ve reviewed the 6 best sling backpacks to help you find the perfect pack.
The One Night Wanderer
When you’re only gone for a night, there's no sense in bringing a full suitcase with you. Save yourself the energy and time by starting your voyage with a stylish overnight bag. Here you can pack your essentials, a change of clothes, and anything that belongs in your (main) purse.
The Weekend Warrior
Planning on a fun weekend getaway? Carry on duffel bags can be your saving grace. Throw your necessities and a change of clothes in this bag and away you go! In this case, it's not only important to take into account the size, fabric, storage and the carrying options, but also the style and price.
The Business Tripper
When you’ve got crisp and clean professional clothes, the last thing you want to do at the hotel is pull out the ironing board. Try traveling with a carry on garment bag to keep your suits wrinkle-free and organized! They're easy to fit in the overhead compartment on a plane or between your feet on a train.
The Safe Keeping Voyager
When you travel with expensive equipment or your laptop, you’ll want to keep an eye on your bag. Try traveling with underseat luggage. When you’re on a plane, an underseat carry on allows you to access your computer, headphones and other technology without having to bother the rest of your aisle-mates and the bag doesn’t have to leave your sight.
The Wheeler and Dealer
Do you plan to zip and zoom through the airport? Or be the boss of the jetway? A hard-sided spinner suitcase is perfect for your next marathon... I mean trip. They're also great for protecting precious souvenirs, like Murano glass from Venice or your bier stein from Bavaria.
The Junior Journeyer
If you’ve traveled with kids, you know how stressful and chaotic it can be. Get your little ones excited about their luggage so you don’t end up carrying it. Our guide on the best carry on for kids suits all mini travelers.
The Country Hopper
If you’re about to miss a plane, train or bus (speaking from experience) and you really need to hotfoot it, a suitcase is only going to slow you down, whereas a backpack is strapped to you and along for the ride!
If you’re in the market for a new backpack, it’s important to measure yourself and test a few out. Different packs will fit your body slightly differently. You want to make sure it’s the right size so you don’t end up with more bruises and achy muscles than necessary.
Tips for Packing Your Backpack
- Find your size by measuring your torso length and hip size.
- Adjust your backpack so that it fits your torso. Most backpacks have an adjustable torso feature.
- Make sure the hip belt, shoulder straps, load-lifter straps, and sternum strap are all adjusted so you feel comfortable.
- Be aware of your body positioning. If you lean forward slightly, you’ll feel more balanced.
- Pack the heaviest items (usually shoes) at the very bottom of your pack.
Watch this video from REI to see how it’s done.
One of our favorite packs is the Osprey Farpoint. It comes in 4 models: 40, 55, 70 and 80 liters. The editor in chief, Colleen, lived out of the Osprey Farpoint 55 for 6 months, which is considered carry on size! Read our review to see if this backpack fits your traveling needs.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, it’s important to get luggage that will be versatile enough to fit your wanderlusting and durable enough to take a good beating. Enjoy your adventure without the hassle of baggage problems by choosing the perfect luggage companion.
Once you're all set with your perfect luggage companion, check out our guide for learning how to pack!