First things first: no single travel bag will be the best bag for all types of travel or for every traveler. So, how do you choose? Let’s look at 3 important options. It’s up to you to decide which options matter most to you based on where you’re going (and what you’ll be doing when you get there).
When choosing between carrying a backpack or duffle bag for travel or pulling wheeled luggage, it’s crucial to think beyond the airport. If you’re going to hike the PCT, you know you’re bringing a backpack. But what if you’re not hitting the trails this time? Maybe you’re not flying to your destination, but if you are, it’s common to only consider the ease of rolling a carry-on through the terminal. Think past that: what will the conditions be at your destination? Cobblestone streets, hotel stairs, in and out of taxis? If you plan to simply roll through an airport, go straight up the elevator to your hotel room, and leave your travel bag there, then a rolling bag for travel will be a great option (although it still uses up a hand). Otherwise, a well-made backpack or duffle bag is going to give you the most ease of mobility as well as the luxury of carrying your luggage hands-free.
While hard-sided luggage can protect breakables, typically, the advantages seem to end there. A soft-sided bag offers much more adaptability and efficient use of space. Whether you’re considering a soft-sided backpack or duffle bag or a hard-sided roller bag for travel, also consider the organization of the space. Are there pockets or compartments available to help organize your belongings? (If not, you always have the option of packing a helpful travel organizer inside your bag.) And of course, consider the quality of the material. While technical fabrics abound, classic leather and waxed canvas remain tried and true options as well.
With the rising cost of flying with luggage, choosing a carry-on size bag for travel will be easier on your mobility as well as your wallet. Unless your gear is too large to carry on anyway, go with a bag that meets carry-on requirements. Currently, maximum dimensions for most carry-on bags are 9 in x 14 in x 22 in (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. Some airlines are slightly more generous with their carry-on bag size limit, so be sure to verify the specific requirements for your trip.
With all of the amazing options of bags for travel, take the time to find a travel bag that will go the distance, meet your travel needs, and look good doing it.