I’m a person who takes great pride in selecting luggage that can withstand the toughest TSA manhandling. But lately, I've been finding that my trusty old travel set is costing me money as airline baggage regulations continue to shift. So now I'm in the market for new luggage that can do both—survive TSA encounters and help me save funds. Here are some tips I've picked up while shopping!
With luggage, these six key factors are the best indicator of durability.
- The retractable handle. Look for a retractable handle that does its job—no struggle.
- The zippers. Look for a large, durable, sturdy zipper that performs equally well whether your bag is empty or stuffed.
- The wheels. Look for a large wheelbase and large, sturdy wheels that can keep up—even if you’re at a flat run to make your connecting flight.
- The warranty. Look for a long-term, all-inclusive warranty with a lifetime guarantee that includes wheel/handle/zipper replacement.
- The size and weight (empty). If you plan to carry your luggage on with you, make sure the dimensions fit the latest airport regulations, and that the empty bag is as light as possible without sacrificing durability.
- Overall usability. Look for something that "fits" your height, strength, typical trip length, packing preferences.
3 Ways to nab savings on new luggage
Read on for ways to find great deals on snazzy new luggage that suits your travel needs.
1. Shop in the spring.
Experts recommend shopping for luggage in the spring because the summer travel season hasn't hit yet. So you can nab great deals at lower prices.
- When to shop: As early as January, but definitely have your shopping done by mid-April!
2. Shop the discount and big box retail stores.
Here at KCL, when we need new luggage, two places top our shopping list: Costco and TJ Maxx/Marshall's. Not only is the price right, but the quality is top-notch!
3. Use the gift cards you earn through Swagbucks to buy your luggage!
If you’re a Swagbucks enthusiast like we are, you know how quickly those rewards points can turn into gift cards. Use your rewards to buy your new luggage—just be sure to price check it first to find the best deal!
- Swagbucks turns your rewards points into all kinds of gift cards, from Target and Walmart to Amazon and PayPal.
3 Ways Buying New Luggage Helps You Save
New luggage can help you save in more ways than just protecting your valuables en route.
1. Travel with confidence that your carry-on will fit.
Today's airline luggage restrictions are stricter in every way. As such, Consumer Reports recommends asking yourself four key questions before selecting a new carry-on.
- How big? Airlines calculate allowable carry-on size by a formula of height X depth X width. Most airlines today permit carry-on bags of 22X19X14, but this can also change depending on what type of plane you take. Check before you fly—and definitely check before you buy!
- How many? Most airlines permit one personal item and one carry-on. Make sure you can take everything you need with this combo, or you may need to shop for a larger checked bag instead.
- How heavy? Can you lift it—when it’s full? If not, it may be too heavy. Most airlines cap carry-on bag weight at between 25-35 pounds. Again, check before you buy.
- How much? If you need to check your carry-on (because there is no space left, it won't fit, etc.), know in advance how much it will cost you round-trip. Most fees begin at $25/bag.
How you save: Choosing new luggage that meets all four of these current airline carry-on restrictions can save you—at minimum—$25 per bag for a one-way trip!
2. You can skip your visit to the chiropractor after your trip!
The older your luggage is, the more likely it is to be heavy even when empty. The old school of thought in luggage durability is that heavier is safer. Today's materials make this unnecessary.
- What to look for: If your new luggage weighs more than 2-4 pounds when empty, you risk exceeding baggage weight restrictions when it is full.
How you save: Not only can you save on unanticipated checked-bag fees (see #1 in this section), but you greatly reduce your risk of back injury trying to lift or pull a heavy bag while you’re rushing (the average chiropractic appointment costs $65—more if you need X-rays).
3. You can pack more for less…and bring more on board with you!
In nearly every instance, new luggage makes more efficient use of space than its older counterparts. This means you can pack more while using less space and keeping overall bag weight down.
- How to fit in the most for the least: Many new carry-on bags include extra-safe padded compartments designed to carry electronics such as laptops. So you can now stow your laptop in your carry-on and still bring a second item as your personal item.
How you save: For longer trips in particular, every little bit of extra packing space helps you avoid checked bag fees, plus your fragile and expensive electronics stay safer during your trip!