Choosing the right international travel luggage is critically important to the success of your overseas trip.
Whether you choose upscale leather travel bags, or basic luggage that's plain and utilitarian, your travel bag will impact the quality of your trip, making it either an ongoing struggle, or in perfect sync with your personal style of travel.
It's easy to spot someone new to traveling in Europe - or anywhere overseas - by the size and type of their luggage.
Not that we should care if, or what, anyone else thinks of our choice for travel luggage.
But as seasoned travelers know, the international travel luggage you travel with will quickly become your friend or your foe.
It all depends on the thought and careful consideration you give to choosing the one item that will become your constant traveling companion.
There are two basic but really important decisions to make, when choosing the type of international travel luggage you plan to travel with:
With the current trend of today's airlines to assess fees for everything they can think of to improve their bottom line [while complicating things for passengers] the key to your travel sanity is to travel as lightly as you possibly can.
Even frequent travelers to Europe and around the globe can be heard to say that on their next trip, they’ll pack less and travel lighter!
Nothing can so easily wreck your trip – if not your back – as taking too much stuff when you travel.
International travel luggage comes in a multitude of styles, colors, and sizes.
While the default color is usually black, it’s easy to find everything from garish prints and colors, to expensive leather travel bags with designer labels.
You can easily buy luggage online for any type you choose.
But before you make a final choice on the web, check the actual piece at a brick and mortar store, if possible, to get a feel for its size, weight, and ease of use.
This is especially important if it’s a rolling suitcase or any kind of luggage with wheels.
If finding an exact replica isn't practical, order it with the knowledge that it may take several trial and error purchases, before you find the best travel luggage for your needs.
The focus of your decision for which luggage to purchase should be based on the highest quality travel luggage you can afford, that fits your size specifications for the items you’ll be packing.
Your top priority for choosing any international travel luggage is its weight when it's not packed and the quality of it's construction.
Compare a number of suitcase styles and shapes, con-sidering only those that are durable and lightweight for possible pur-chase.
Neither the look of your luggage nor the color is as im-portant as how it will handle on air-planes, conveyor belts, in car trunks, on buses, trains, and ships, or by baggage handlers who neither know or care how expensive your luggage is.
Look for luggage sales at major department stores. It's easy to find quality international travel luggage selling as a loss leader, to get customers into the store.
You can often purchase brand-name pieces and close-outs at as much as 50% discount off full retail price.
If you belong to a warehouse club, compare luggage prices at both their stores and online sites. There may have limited styles to choose from, but their mini-mum merchandise markups make buying quality luggage easy on your wallet.
For rugged, long lasting adventure travel luggage, research luggage for sale online at both REI.com and LLBean.com.
Both offer a variety of attractive, lightweight, durable duffle bags and backpacks. During the year – often in early summer and near the winter holidays - you can find free or reduced shipping for purchases.
RickSteves.com also offers a variety of backpacks and soft-sided Rick Steves luggage designs, carried by devotees of his laid back Europe as a European style of travel, as well as by Rick himself.
He’s perfected both the design and the functionality of his lightweight interna-tional travel luggage during his many years of traveling throughout Europe.
For most travelers, the luggage you choose should be some form of luggage with wheels.
The more you plan to take with you, the more important it is for international travel luggage to have the ability to roll smoothly and comfortably throughout your trip and on many kinds of surfaces.
If you plan to travel with checked luggage, the size of your bag dictates you need some form of rolling suitcase or wheeled travel luggage.
Check several brands of rolling luggage for easy maneuverability, smooth corner turns, wheels that are somewhat recessed into the body of the bag and compar-able in size and strength to the load they’ll carry.
Make sure all wheels and handles are sturdy, both when the case is empty, and when it’s full, just as it will be when packed to capacity.
Look for a built in option that allows you to attach another small piece of luggage [such as your carry on bag] when you’re on the move.
Try this with both bags fully packed to make sure the attached bag won't prevent the larger bag from rolling smoothly, or make it tip over.
For your carry on luggage, look for wheeled designs for this bag, as well.
While your initial thought may be your carryon bag is smaller, therefore lighter and easier to carry, you'll find you easily fill this bag with 20-30 pounds of can’t travel without items you’ll have to schlep around Europe for the duration of your trip.
If you plan to check your main travel bag, your carryon bag will likely fill up with on-plane necessities, non-checkable items, an emergency clothing change, as well as toiletries, prescriptions, guidebooks, camera gear, and your electronic items.
If your carryon bag is your main international travel luggage, need I say more?
It needs to roll, so you can manhandle your camera, purse, day bag, briefcase, or whatever second bag you’re allowed to bring with you. Not to mention the paraphernalia all travelers tend to collect along the way.
Travel is exhausting. Especially after days or weeks on the road.
The more you take with you that rolls, the easier it will be for you to roll with it!
Try these pages for details on airline luggage weight and size restrictions for both domestic and international airlines, along with linear dimensions, weight allow-ances, and tips for packing luggage:
Rethinking Checked Luggage - How to balance what you pack with airline baggage restrictions on overseas flights.
The Carry On Travel Luggage Dilemma - Use the correct carry on bag for freedom and flexibility on your overseas trip.
Excess Luggage – How The Airlines Take Your Money - Learn how to choose luggage that meets or beats airline luggage restrictions.
Carry On Luggage – More Rules, More Restrictions to test even a savvy seasoned traveler.
Is Your International Carry On Bag Legal? Follow airline carry on bag requirements for hassle-free boarding.
With so many travelers now opting to carry on their bags – even for overseas trips – airline personnel are frequently forced to remove carry on luggage from late boarding travelers and check it, as the overhead luggage bins are filled up.
Yet another reason to arrive early for your flight and be ready to board at the first call for your seating section!
Great Tips for European Travel
On Rick Steves' 12 Disc, Blu-ray, Collector's Edition
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