Most people want a wheelie suitcase for their holidays – they free up your hands and much of its weight is removed because you aren’t carrying it. But if you’re backpacking or heading to a town with cobbled streets (think Prague or Bruges) you might want a backpack: wheels on cobbles are noisy and unstable. To be honest though, wheels will probably still be your first choice of luggage. Four wheeled cases don’t need to be tipped to move, they scuttle along beside you with almost no effort. If the case has two wheels, make sure it is stable enough to stand upright when packed. Pull out any telescopic handles and make sure they are good and sturdy; you don’t them coming loose when laden.
Hard-sided suitcases are more durable and are probably waterproof, they will protect fragile items more efficiently and they usually come with locks built in. These cases often have a divider in the middle to separate the lid from the base to protect the contents. Most hard cases are made from moulded polypropylene or ABS plastic.
Soft cases are more flexible as they’re made from polyester, nylon or a combination of both. The fabric is graded in denier and the higher the denier, the thicker and more durable the fabric. If you are prone to overpacking, soft cases are a bit more forgiving and they often have extendable sections or pockets. Most are coated in some form of waterproofing, but to be honest, no case shouldn’t be left out in the rain!
Most cabin luggage sell themselves as being within cabin size restrictions, but quite often this is only for larger carriers. Many low cost airlines have smaller restrictions, and some puddle-jumpers (very short haul flights to destinations such as Dublin), have even smaller allowances. You must not assume because the tag on a bag says it’s small enough for cabin requirements that it will be for every airline. Be careful of weight as well as size.
Despite the added cost, might want to check in at least one bag for those essentials that you’re not allowed to carry on board. If you’re off on a shopping spree, you might want a large suitcase but always keep in mind weight restrictions. The bigger your case, the more likely you are to get into expensive excess fees. If you’ve checked a suitcase into the hold, then you’ll only need a small bag with you on the plane, which makes walking around the airport and stowing it close by you on the plane much easier. And remember, if your bag gets damaged in the hold, make sure you report it at the airport.
With everyone maxing out on their cabin luggage, the overhead lockers on a plane fill up fast, and there’s nothing as frustrating as booking a front row seat then having your bags stowed at the back of the plane. Okay, there is one thing more frustrating: your hold luggage not appearing on the carousel and having to start your holiday without your suitcase! The pros and cons of cabin versus hold should be weighed up every time you fly and buying a set of luggage should take care of all your holiday requirements every holiday.
Too often you see a family where the kids don’t carry anything. The best way to get kids involved in taking charge their own case is to let them choose their case. There’s lots of cool luggage designed especially for kids around.
Travel accessories come in all shapes and sizes but our must buys for any holiday are adaptors – the last thing you need is to have no means of powering up, padlocks for security and some sort identifying symbol for your case – be it a multicoloured strap, novelty name tags or a big red X drawn on it!
Happy holidays when they do arrive!