So if you’re hoping to get away soon you might be wondering which type of suitcase is right for you? There are plenty of factors to take into consideration and it’s really important to pick out the right one so you don’t spend the entire trip regretting your choice. Everyone will have a slightly different preference but keep reading this post to find the best kind of suitcase for every type of traveler or trip!
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One of the most important decisions when it comes to your luggage choice is whether you go for a suitcase or a backpack. This can really make or break a trip so choose wisely! It does come down to personal preference to an extent however there are a few important things to consider before making your choice. The first thing to think about is how much you need to take. This might be due to how long you are traveling for or the type of trip you are taking, for example, if you are going on a ski trip you would need a lot more gear than going for a beach trip. For any trip where you won’t need much luggage a small backpack is often better and easier to carry than a suitcase. However, for longer trips of ones that you need to take a lot of stuff a suitcase might be more convenient for packing and transporting depending on the type of trip.
Which airline you are flying with and their luggage requirements may also influence your choice. You may be limited on how much you can take or the dimensions of your bag which may help you decide what type of luggage to take. If you fly with a budget airline, such as Ryanair, be sure to check their luggage requirements very carefully or you could end up with a big charge at the airport! For Ryanair, the basic price includes a personal item only which is a small bag, like a duffle bag or small backpack that can be put under the seat in front and can not be a suitcase with wheels. If you want to upgrade your ticket then you can take hand luggage (which can be a small suitcase) and a personal item and if you are willing to pay extra you can also purchase check-in luggage of various sizes and weights. Each airline will have its own restrictions so depending on what is allowed on your flight and if you are willing to pay extra this may determine what type of luggage you can take with you.
The next thing to consider is the exact logistics of your trip. How you are traveling and where you are staying can have a big impact on whether you go for a suitcase or a backpack. Are you taking a round-the-world budget trip where you will be taking public transport and sleeping in hostels or are you staying in a five-star all inclusive and have your own chauffeur? Obviously, these are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum and you might not be going to either extreme, but every type of trip will fit somewhere in between. If you are going to be traveling a lot with your luggage or if you’re going somewhere that it may be difficult to wheel a suitcase, for example, a historic city in Europe with cobblestone streets or somewhere that the pavement will be covered in ice and grit (this can melt down suitcase wheels) seriously consider taking a backpack instead.
Wheels vs non wheels
So if you’ve decided on a suitcase, the next question you need to ask is should I get one with wheels or without. This decision will mostly come down to personal preference but there are a few pros and cons to each. The biggest benefit to getting a suitcase with wheels is simply the convenience. Depending on your trip and packing style, your suitcase could be pretty heavy so having to lug it around the whole time can get a bit tiresome. The wheels make it a lot easier to travel with especially if you will be catching public transport to your final destination and won’t have access to a luggage trolley. However, the wheels and handle mechanism can take up space within the suitcase and make it heavier meaning your luggage allowance could be a little smaller. Some airlines may not even allow you take a wheeled suitcase if the wheels push the bag dimensions just out of spec. It also may not actually be possible to make the most of your wheels if you will be traveling to somewhere with lots of uneven services like cobblestones or stairs or if there is a lot of ice and grit on the ground as this can melt plastic wheels. Alternatively, a suitcase without wheels may be lighter and roomier but may be more awkward to carry rather than pull. Personally though, I would always go for a suitcase with wheels rather than one without.
Having decided on a wheeled suitcase, the next question to ask would be whether to go for one with 4 wheels or 2 wheels. The obvious benefit of a 2 wheel suitcase is that 2 wheels take up less space and so the case would be lighter and you would have more room for your stuff. Because there are fewer mechanics inside the suitcase, 2 wheeled luggage is usually a bit cheaper than 4 wheels too and the wheels are often a bit sturdier so less likely to break. Suitcases with 2 wheels are designed to be pulled behind you as opposed to 4 wheels which are designed to be pushed in front. This means that 2 wheels cope better over rough surfaces like cobblestone streets while 4 wheels are better for smooth surfaces such as airports and hotel lobbies, again this is something to take into account based on where you will be traveling and how.
Since the 4 wheeled suitcase is designed to be pushed in front of you, it is easier to keep an eye on your belongings and where you are going which means it can be easier to maneuver down a plane aisle or train without getting in anyone’s way and your belongings are safer as well. The 4 wheeled cases can also stand up freely on their own meaning you can place another piece of luggage on top and the case is not going to topple over which could damage the contents. This does however mean that your suitcase could roll away from you if left unattended such as on a slope or could move around more if left in luggage storage on a train or bus.
Overall there are pros and cons of both and it will really depend on what type of trip you are taking but from my experience of traveling with both over the years, I personally would go for the case with 4 wheels. If I am taking a suitcase rather than a backpack I am often not traveling far carrying the case itself and 4 wheels are much more convenient when traveling through an airport.
The first question you should ask yourself is whether you are more interested in protecting your items or the case? Hard shell suitcases are more robust so if you are carrying anything fragile it will be better protected, however, the case itself is more susceptible to breaking, cracking, or getting scratched. If you are traveling with only soft items like clothes it wouldn’t matter if these get bumped around a bit inside your case and a soft shell is less likely to be damaged during transit. Hard shell cases can also protect your items from getting wet due to weather or spills since the material used to make them are usually at least water-resistant although it may still be possible for moisture to get in through the fastening. Since the case can easily be wiped down on the outside you do not need to worry about carrying a damp or dirty suitcase around with you whereas soft shells are much harder to clean as they will often absorb any liquid and can end up looking grubby quickly.
The other thing to consider is how much stuff you need to take or bring back if you want to go shopping during your vacation. Soft sided luggage has the potential to stretch and squash since it isn’t as rigid as a hard sided case. That means you can really stuff it full which makes soft sided cases ideal for anyone who is an over packer or wants to buy a lot of souvenirs from their trip. This means they are also more easy to manipulate into small areas such as the overhead bin on a plane or small storage areas in a hotel room. Soft shell cases also usually have more pockets and compartments than hard shell cases which means you can more efficiently sort your belongings and make sure things you might need such as your purse/wallet or passport are in a convenient spot for you to grab them quickly.
Another perk to the hard shell case is that they tend to come in more creative colours and patterns. While soft shell cases are available in different colours they are usually just one colour and very rarely have patterns. Because of the material they are made of, hard shells can have basically any colour, pattern or image you can think of making them more unique. You can even apply stickers to them allowing them to be personalised even if you have a pretty boring case to begin with.
So if you’ve finally decided on which type of luggage you want to get the next thing to consider would be the size. Now this all comes down to how you pack for trips and what luggage allowance you have. If you are mainly wanting your suitcase for roadtrips, then size does not matter so much since you have no limit on what you can take (assuming everything will fit in your car) however, the bigger the bag the more difficult it will be to transport so I wouldn’t go for a massive one if you don’t have that much stuff to take. If you fly more than drive then you need to be mindful of the airlines’ requirements. Each airline’s limits will vary slightly so it is up to you to check each airline you will fly with and get a size that is suitable. If you can afford it, a multipack of suitcases in different sizes are a great option to make sure you are covered for every eventuality which allows you to tailor your luggage to your trip and saves money compared to having to keep buying bags in different sizes.
Now the final thing you need to consider is the colour of your case. While it might seem a little trivial and you may think it’s not something to worry about, it is something to think about when picking your new bag. Navy Blue is the most popular suitcase colour so if you want your case to stand out go for another colour. Black, grey and purple are also pretty popular meaning you could be searching for your bag in the luggage area or as a worst-case scenario, someone else could end up taking your bag by mistake. Using an unusual colour or pattern means that your bag will be instantly recognisable as your own. If you do end up going for a common coloured suitcase, you can also add something to make yours stand out at the carousel such as stickers, coloured ribbons or unique luggage tags.