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Suitcase Mistakes



When choosing a suitcase, size does matter.

If you spend a lot of time away from home traveling, you’ll understand the adage ‘less is better’.  The less is better effect is when the value or importance of items is considered when evaluated separately rather than together.  Choosing what to take with you is very important, but the suitcase or bag you choose is even more important.

Most of us know a person who travels with a bulging suitcase and has three carry on bags as well (normally dispersed between their fellow travelers). Using some simple tricks, packing for a holiday or business getaway can be quite easy.

But don’t under estimate the importance of your suitcase.  The best suitcase I have ever owned (and I’ve bought about 20 in my lifetime – not all for me!) was a bright red Samsonite that I bought in Munich, duty free at an ‘end of year sale’ over 3 years ago. Since then it has been with me around the world and back on at least 12 more trips and behaved beautifully.  While I admit, I am in love with my suitcase, I have bought other brands (cheaply on sale) for the rest of my family and they have been fantastic too.

So what suitcase is best for you?  

1. What mode of transport are you using most?  If you are using train or bus travel as well as plane, then you need to make sure that you can lift your own suitcase in and out of trains and onto the overhead compartments.  If you are getting a taxi from the airport, then as long as you can roll it or carry it, that’s fine. If you are on a cruise, the same applies.  On the move all the time, smaller the better or even consider a proper back pack if you are fit enough.

2. How fit are you?  If you are not particularly fit and there’s a lot of walking to do with your suitcase, make sure you choose the type of suitcase with four wheels.  You’ll be amazed at how tiring pulling a two wheel suitcase weighing 20 kilograms can be.  Even more so, trying to carry it and you hand luggage as well.  Properly maintained 4 wheelers allow you to push and pull lightly in most situations (not so good on cobblestones, so watch out if you are heading to Europe!)

3. How much are you packing?  Most airlines have weight limits, so think about those souvenirs you might want to bring back home?  Are you going to have room for them? Try only packing half your suitcase. If you are traveling domestically, then you are only going to have an allowance of around 20 kilograms, overseas up to 30 kilograms.  You need to take into account too, how heavy your suitcase is when it is empty.  Some larger suitcases already weigh 6 or so kilos before you start packing. 

4. Bigger is not always better. Just because the larger suitcase is just a few dollars more doesn't mean it’s a better buy. Don’t be tricked by the price, as larger suitcases are usually heavier and more cumbersome.  You can’t get more than one in the boot of rental cars and it’s too easy to overpack and be subject to additional charges at airports. If you are just going away for a few days, try a carry on size, or for all other holidays from 3 days to 3 months, try a mid size suitcase and a backpack as carry on. 

5. How many people versus suitcases? Too many times have I seen families at airports with little children and way too many suitcases. It’s great for kids to have their own suitcases, but ultimately under 7’s usually pass them on to mum or dad when the novelty of pulling them along passes. Pack only enough suitcases that the adults can carry.  If you have little children, remember one adult is going to need hands free to hold on to the children in busy airports or train stations.  You also need to consider the storage space in rental cars. Five people movers can usually only hold three suitcases and some carry ons.  

The verdict: 

If you are traveling for 5 days or more, plane, train or boat, take a mid range four wheel roll suitcase.  Whether you are young or old, they are easy to move in crowded areas and you don’t have to bear the weight of the suitcase.

Traveling with children? Pack a suitcase for each adult only and take a backpack each for the plane or train.  You will need a free hand for the children.

If you are just going for 3 days or so, try and get by with a carry on size, roll along suitcase.

I’d steer clear of large carry-on bags, unless you are a fitness trainer or they can be easily stored on top of your suitcase when moving around. A small backpack with zip openings is much easier to carry and leaves your hands free.

Those leather carry alls look great, but unless you belong to the Kardashian clan and have lots of minders, you are going to have to carry it yourself!

And definitely don’t take the larger size suitcases.  They are a money trap, difficult to carry around due to their size and the starting weight normally outweighs any benefit.  Just learn to pack efficiently.

 Have a great trip.

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