Travel Bags – 6 Key Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Carry-On Bag
Travelling is a pain in the neck. Anyone that’s ever flown can attest to that. You’ve got to arrive at the airport at least two hours early so that you can sit for an hour in an uncomfortable seat to wait for your flight. There’s the fight through security and the extended walk to your gate, which is inevitably the furthest gate from where you currently are. And through all of this, you’ll be hefting along your carry-on bag.
So choosing the right bag, one that balances carrying capacity, size, and weight, along with a host of other considerations, is critical. Your bag should make your trip easier, not harder. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six key things to consider when choosing the best carry-on bag for you and your traveling habits.
1. Size Matters
When choosing a carry-on bag, your first impulse might be to get the largest bag you can afford, but that isn’t necessarily the best strategy. A larger bag will let you carry more with you, but the more you carry, the heavier your bag will be. Remember that you may one day find yourself sprinting through an airport to make a flight. Do you want to be running with 50 pounds of gear at your side?
Before you purchase, give a thought to the sorts, and amounts of things you tend to carry on with you. The best carry-on bag for a woman may be different than for a man based on the items they tend to pack.
Consider how long do your trips usually last? Do you frequently check luggage as well as bring a carry-on? All of these will help determine how large a bag you really need. You’ll probably find that a smaller bag will be perfectly adequate.
It’s also important to remember that whatever carry-on you choose, it’s going to need to find in the overhead bin on the plane, and, if you want quick access to it, under the seat in front of you. Larger bags may not fit everywhere, so check the suitcase sizing guidelines for the airlines you tend to travel with and buy a bag that will be accepted by all of them.
2. Multiple Compartments
The only thing worse than having to cram every single thing you’re traveling with into one large compartment is trying to get at a specific thing in that one compartment while you’re traveling. You end up having to pull half of your belongings out of your bag, in the middle of the airport, or on your plane, just to get the one thing you need.
A much better plan is to get a bag with multiple compartments, intuitively arranged based on how you tend to pack and the sorts of thing you bring with you. Having multiple compartments instead of one helps you pack smarter. Among other things, it’s good to have a separate, water-tight compartment for toiletries and other things that can spill, and a pouch for electronics, books, food, and other gear you want easy access to during your trip. And if you can keep shoes and other bulky or dirty items away from your clothes, all the better.
Many bags today are designed with the realities of air travel in mind. You’ll want a bag that gives you easy access to your laptop and battery so that you can quickly pull it out when you go through security.
If you’re someone that frequently brings luggage along with your carry-on, it’s good to look for a bag that features a trolley sleeve, which lets you slip your bag over your luggage’s extendable handle, removing the need to sling the carry-on uncomfortably over your shoulder.
And if you carry a lot of electronics with you it’s helpful to find a bag that features integrated cord management, keeping each of your devices’ cords safely tucked away, within easy reach, avoiding the dreaded cord spaghetti tangle.
Having multiple compartments can make your travels so much simpler, but only if they’re easily accessible. Look for bags with easy-access pockets with wide openings to allow quick access to your possessions in potentially stressful situations.
In general, large openings are the order of the day. It’s better to sacrifice style for wide, accessible compartments for painless packing. Your bag is intended to help make your trip as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible, not win a fashion show. Reject bags that favor form over function and make it harder to pack.
5. Quality is More Important Than Price
You need to be responsible. You shouldn’t buy more bag than you can afford. But at the same time, you should buy the highest quality bag your budget supports. You can always find a less-expensive bag, but it’s almost a guarantee that the bag is priced lower because it’s using lower quality components that are more likely to break under the repeated stress of travel.
Look for solid construction. Avoid bags that use thin thread, and sparse stitching for attaching components and at seams. Look for structural reinforcements inside the bag. Favor thick, high-quality fabrics and sturdy, metal hardware. You want a durable bag so, if you can, stress test the bag before you purchase it. Pull it and push on it. Stretch it, mash it, and yank on the handles and other components. If the bag feels flimsy and easily broken, it probably is.
Choose soft, comfortable handles that fit your hands well. Pay extra for generous padding around the shoulder straps, as your shoulders will take the brunt of the weight, and will certainly suffer if the straps aren’t cushioned well.
Finally, look for YKK zippers. The Japanese company that manufactures this brand has a reputation for quality. In fact, nearly half of all zippers on earth are made by this company because they’re extremely dependable. A broken zipper can ruin an otherwise fine bag. So zippers are the last place you want to compromise. Don’t settle for anything less than YKK zippers.
6. Stand-Out Style
This is the least important consideration. As we said earlier, it’s better to favor function over form. However, once you’ve satisfied all of the other considerations we’ve talked about you should certainly find a bag that looks great and matches your sense of style. Having a stylish bag will make you feel great as you trek through the airport or walk through your hotel lobby.
Whether you’re looking for the best carry-on bag for a woman or a man, you’re sure to find a style that meets your travel needs and looks great hanging from your shoulder or perched on top of your luggage.