Thirteen tips for buying luggage. When I flew a couple weeks ago, I noticed something new on the airport luggage carousels: not all bags are soft-sided and black. I used to casually wonder how many people accidentally walk off with the wrong bag because so many are so similar. No more! Since bags are more innovative, and since travelers are clearly updating their luggage wardrobes, I thought I'd share these tips in time for travel season.
1. Soft-sided, fabric cases are the most popular because they are lighter in weight. That makes them easier to load in the trunk of the car (whether you're on a road trip or just off the airport) or stow between trips in the top shelf of your closet.
2. They are usually made of nylon. Before you buy, check to be sure it's "parachute material," or ripstop nylon, because it's less susceptible to snags and tears.
3. If you're a traveler who likes to bring back souvenirs, you may prefer a soft-sided bag because it has greater flexibility. This could be important if you're coming back with more than you left with, and you often squeeze an extra item or two into your bag.
4. Hard-sided suitcases are more durable, but also heavier, than soft-sided. They're designed to help keep the contents safe.
5. They don't have the "give" of a soft-sided bag. They hold what they hold. No squeezing any extras in or over stuffing.
6. Taking a cruise? Your cruise line likely would prefer you pack a hard-sided bag. These suitcases are easier to stack in the ship's belly.
7. Some travelers prefer two-wheeled bags because the casters are often recessed so they won't break off.
8. I'm not one of those travelers. I like 4-wheeled bags because the wheels spin 360º, while the two-wheelers seem to only spin front and back.
9. New bags are prettier, but don't just be dazzled by appearance. A curved bag may look more sleek and modern, but a suitcase with squared edges offers more space for your stuff.
10. You can get a "smart" bag, with GPS tags to help you locate your bag if it's lost.
11. More and more bags (including backpacks) come with USB ports so you can charge your phone wherever you are.
12. Since suitcases can represent an investment, you can now buy a PVC cover to protect your luggage during transit. (Maybe this is worth it, but I'm not sold.)
13. Black is still the most prevalent color, but deep reds -- like burgundy and black cherry -- are gaining for soft-sided suitcases. Icy blues and grays seem to be getting more popular with hard-sided bags.
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