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5 Vital Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Bought My Travel Bags

Updated on October 19, 2013

Choosing The Right Bag

Important Things About My Travel Bag I Never Considered

I was all excited, about to head off on my OE with a pretty luggage bag that I'd selected to fit all of my "stuff" in for my trip.

It was gorgeous, it was my favorite color with funky (albeit non user friendly) pockets, a comfy handle and smooth running wheels. It even weighed the right amount with my gear in it (that was until I went shopping of course).

It seemed like a good choice for getting my belongings to the other side of the world.

And it was a great theory....until I actually had my first experience of dragging/fitting/lumbering the big cumbersome thing through crowded trains fighting past passengers and stuffing it through doors on the way to my destinations.

This is where my first travel lesson was learned! I realised my piece of luggage was what I now call a a "hotel hoppers" bag, not a backpackers booty hauler!

I hadn't realised or considered in all my weeks and months planning insurance, travel shampoo, sorting tickets and all of the things that my "pretty" bag was going to have to do/fit and handle on my interesting and sometimes intrepid journey.

Since then I've learned A lot about some of the things that make holiday or long term travel easier. Choosing the right luggage is definitely one of them!

18 months later, my suitcase is sitting in the corner of my room looking a little battered and bruised, not from being hauled around the world on exciting adventures, but from being put through ordeals that the poor thing was really not designed to do.

I now have a handy day pack, large but versatile and user friendly bag with all the handy luggage requirements that make every trip easy, safe which makes getting from place to place a breeze.

I LOVE traveling - but it took me 11400 kms of hauling my stuff around to figure out that choosing the right luggage is one of the most important things that can make getting from one place to the other a pleasurable and fun experience!

What I have learned from my experiences (and frustrations) is that its important/vital to choose the right luggage.

The 5 MOST important things to consider when buying a travel bag:

First thing to ask is - What's your traveling style?

Here are some considerations for travel bags based on the type of travel you intend on doing.

Are you going to be staying put in once place in your destination or moving/backpacking around.

Do you need something with wheels that you can roll easily through airports or hotel floors, or do you need something that you can wear on your back for walking over rough ground.

Are you:

The Hotel Hopper?

Are you a person who stays in motels or hotels? Then then you'll need a bag that can roll easily and be thrown into taxis. There are many bags that might suit you.

The Shopper?

If you love shopping you'd better have a light bag to keep under luggage weight limits. Its money well spent buying a super lightweight bag if you're not a lightweight traveler.

The Throw It On Backpacker?

Are you a person that likes to "wing it", to get up and go at a minutes notice? Might be walking for a while to get to where you want to go? Then you'll want a super comfortable pack without the compromise of rolling wheels or handles.

Staying Put?

Working in a job but staying in one place but making small trips? A good suitcase with a really good day pack that fits your needs will be a good investment.

The Organised Backpacker?

Like to know where you're staying but want the choice of being able to travel with different options? A hybrid pack/suitcase that can be rolled or carried on your back as a backpack might be perfect for you.

Full Hybrid Rolling Duffel Bag

Ful Hybrid Rolling Duffel Bag (Black, Large/28-Inch)
Ful Hybrid Rolling Duffel Bag (Black, Large/28-Inch)
Bottom level flat storage, Top level high volume storage, Bottom Lift Handle, Smooth wheels

The 5 MOST important things to consider when buying a travel bag:

If you want to end up with the best travel for your needs will depend on the questions you ask yourself about what you are going to be doing with it.

Obviously the quality of the material(s) your bag is made of is important, but all the little things, like where pockets, zips and handles are located are all also important considerations.

Here are 5 extra things to think about when buying a travel bag.


Airline baggage specifications and requirements:

Will your travel bag fit all of the size and weight requirements of your transportation method:

What are the airline requirements including size and weight for your luggage. Different airlines have different weight and size requirements depending on classes of travel.

Low cost airlines usually have lower weight allowances. So do train companies and some bus lines.

These are considerations you need to think about in advance.

Easy access:

What are the things you might need to have quick access to:

A good bag not only fits all of your luggage, but also allows you easy access to things you might want or need without having to unpack the whole thing. This is a BIG oversight by most newbie travellers.

Consider what "stuff" you may need quick access to. For example, do you need easy access to toiletries, shoes or other belongings while in transit? This may seem like a trivial consideration, but I know more than one person that has had to dismantle their bag in a busy airport to find something they needed.

Hobbies? Do you have "hobby" items you want to keep handy for easy access, like a camera tripod?

So consider a bag that enables access to the right things at the right time. Double zips are handy, so you can unzip openings from either side.

Weight and dimensions:

If you are a small person then you'll probably want to lighter backpack or slim suitcase. Think about how you're going to lift, roll or carry your case.

There are many suitcases around that are strong but thin and light, and easily manoeuvrable like the Samsonite Winfield range of travel bags.

What about shopping? If you want to be able to bring more home, then a better quality lighter bag means you can use that weight allowance for luggage, not the case/bag it is going to be packed in.

Recognition, identification and security:

Security, something that is reinforced and easy to lock with padlocks and double zips is reassuring to own and use.

If you are going to countries where there are lots of people, you'll want a pack that DOESN'T have lots of pockets that people can get into while your'e walking around. Consider a top loading pack for this.

The colour of your bag may not seem like an important consideration, but if you think about the thousands of bags going through airports and hotel lobbies - it makes sense to have a bright or standout piece of luggage that you can easily locate.

It may seem like a small thing, but after a long journey, every little convenience is a vital contribution to an easier smoother hassle free trip.

Bright Luggage

Olympia Luggage Palm Beach 3 Piece Hardcase Sets

The unexpected:

This is another aspect that is easy to overlook. If you are staying somewhere for a while, what are you likely to buy and need to bring home (dirty washing etc).

The other thing to think about is about wet and dry weight. What I mean by this is, if you have wet clothing (yep it happens) or shampoo bottles etc, these can add up to quite a bit.

I have had wet clothing in my pack before, unintentionally, through unexpected circumstances. I did not have a place in my suitcase to accommodate it. Having a separate space away from my dry clothing would have saved my dry clothes from becoming damp (there were no separate compartments that could fit these items).

Allow for the unexpected weight, damp or leaky luggage, where in your baggage can you put these items.

Would you buy a back or suitcase

What kind of luggage are you looking for:

See results

Day packs:

Day packs are another consideration for making trips out and about.

Light packs are great for running around the countryside. I like comfortable packs that are:

  • Foldable and easy to pack
  • Strong and durable
  • Water resistant
  • Fits carry on luggage requirements
  • Security - hard to slash or access for passers by

I bought the pack below because it meets all of the requirements above and it's great value for money! One of my favourite traveling pieces, it folds up to almost nothing and carries lots!

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (20-Liter)

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (Blue, 20-Liter)
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (Blue, 20-Liter)
This bag is great as a summit pack, for carrying groceries, or as an extra traveling tote. When packed into the attached mini stuff sack, it's easy to take anywhere. It is strong, yet compact and light; a must have for everyone from backpackers to moms.


Had I thought about these things before I left home, I would have saved a bunch of money because I wouldn't have had to buy more luggage instead of investing in the right large and one small bag that I needed.

Part of a pleasurable vacation, OE, or any kind of travel trip is making it easy to get there and enjoying a hassle free journey.

Having easy to transport, secure and easy to find luggage is a huge part of this.

And don't just think about getting there, what about getting home. What might you need on the way home? Room for dirty washing, shampoo that can leak etc.

What shopping might you have done? The weight of you case/bag limits what you can bring home.

How will your bag/luggage fit in aisles, halls and under seats and on plane overhead lockers.

All of these things are important aspects you can use to determine and narrow down your search for the perfect travel bags for you and your personality/travel styles and plans.

Good luck and happy traveling!

Travel bag checklist, things to check

Travel Pack
Day Pack
Wheels smooth rolling
Quality of fabric

Happy traveler


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