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You probably make a list to help you remember what to pack before you go on a trip. When it comes to buying luggage, making a list of your essentials can be just as helpful.

Ideally, it should be lightweight and easy to maneuver while still being able to hold everything you need. The luggage should allow you to pack efficiently enough to minimize airline baggage fees and durability is equally important. You might be shelling out anywhere from $100 to $600 for a single, medium to large wheeled bag — so you want it to last a long time.

Here are some tips to help you pick the right bag to carry on your next trip.

Wheels Up

No one wants to arrive at a vacation destination or meeting site with an aching back after carrying heavy bags through airports or onto train platforms. For that reason alone, you'll probably find that buying luggage with wheels — especially for the larger pieces — is worth the extra cost.

Wheeled luggage comes with two or four wheels, and each option has its pros and cons. With its ability to spin in a complete circle, a four-wheeled suitcase moves easily in any direction — convenient for winding your way through a curvy path or down a narrow airplane aisle — while a two-wheeler can only go forward or backward. On the other hand, two wheels do better when going over curbs and uneven surfaces, as well as for pulling a bag over an incline.

Under Construction

Pay attention to the details of how a piece of luggage is put together. Tug on the handle to make sure it's sturdy. Check out the security of the zippers: the metal chain style — featuring two sets of interlocking teeth that make them hard to pry apart — is ideal.

As for the material covering the suitcase frame, travel expert Samantha Brown suggests ballistic nylon as an example of a lightweight, sturdy material. She also recommends choosing a fabric with a protective coating for waterproofing.

Look inside the bag to see how the interior is designed. Does it have enough pockets? Is it deep enough or expandable to accommodate all of your garments and bulky folded clothes?

Weighing In

Soft-sided or fabric-covered pieces of luggage are generally more popular than hard-shelled because they're lighter in weight and easier to stuff — helping you avoid those dreaded airline fees for extra baggage. But even a soft piece of luggage can gain some heft after packing, especially if it has wheels, which account for a considerable amount of weight even when the bag is empty. You definitely want to keep the weight of a carry-on bag under 10 pounds. Anything heavier than that could be tough to hoist in and out of the overhead bin.

Of course, you'll also need to pay attention to the overall size of your carry-on bags to make sure they comply with airline regulations. Each airline sets its own rules about what's acceptable to bring onboard, but you should generally be in good shape if the sum of the length, width and height of your carry-on is no more than 45 inches.

Your Trip, Your Bag

Once you've covered the basics of affordability, durability and practicality, the right choice of luggage depends on how you like to travel and the purpose of your trips. For instance, if you're packing hiking boots, sports equipment and other gear to take on an outdoor adventure, you may prefer a duffel bag over a wheeled suitcase. If you travel with children, you may need extra room in your own luggage to accommodate some of their travel essentials.

Follow your personalized checklist for buying luggage to help ensure that getting to your destination will be hassle-free and that you'll have everything you need to enjoy the experience once you arrive.


This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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