How to choose the perfect suitcase

Adventures are fun… but way before any kind of exploring can begin you’ve got to first pack your suitcase! Simple task, right? Well… maybe… until you start wondering whether to choose a suitcase based on quality or color… price or size… style or… stress! Every traveler has at some point on their adventures found themselves stuck with a bag that has either been damaged too quickly or just turned out to be too bulky for the trip ahead. Whether you’re island hopping in the Virgin Islands or trekking through various sections of the Great Wall, here is a simple guide to choosing the right suitcase for your travels.

The size

Choose the size of your suitcase based on the end destination and duration of your trip. If it’s a weekend away to a nearby city, then a simple backpack will do. If it’s to a location further away but for a short period of time, then a simple hand luggage suitcase should be just fine. If it’s for a longer period of time or to multiple destinations, opt for a medium to larger sized suitcase that will allow to pack more. Often my itinerary dictates the kind of suitcase I choose to take. Keep your itinerary in mind and think of your travel routes, mode of transport and airline restrictions.


The weight

Just as important as the size, is the weight. No one wants to be stuck lugging around a heavy bag. Not only is it just plain down difficult but all airlines have some form of weight restriction which means there is still a risk of hefty additional costs. Local flights usually have smaller weight limits while international flights range between 20 – 30 kg depending on the airline and class of flight. Be sure to always check the weight of your suitcase before you buy them. Cheaper suitcases can weigh up to 6 kg which is pretty heavy. Spend a little more and buy a suitcase made from lightweight material that weighs between 2 – 3 kg.


Most people choose darker colors because they are less likely to get dirty and while that is true… they are also less likely to be recognized! If you choose darker neutral colors like black’s or navy’s hen use a brightly colored luggage tag or ribbon tied to it, to help you identify your bag. Alternatively, choose something a little brighter which can be recognized easily from afar.


Hard or soft

The type of outer material is one of the most important characteristics when choosing a suitcase. Some are made from soft materials such as vinyl while others are made from harder plastics or polycarbonates. Softer suitcases may be easier to man-oeuvre and squeeze into smaller places but they are also more prone to tearing and damage. A hard suitcase may be more expensive, but it is a lasting option.


Inner Compartments

Imagine opening up your suitcase to everything in a jumbled mess. Frustration galore! Choose a suitcase with well-defined compartments that will allow you separate your items with ease. This way you will know exactly where to find what you are looking for, even after multiple days on the road. Check to see if there is a strap that you can pull over and securely fasten to secure your belongings in place without having them thrown around on the journey there.



Choose a suitcase with a handle that is made out of flexible materials and which has a firm grip. It should be easy to grab and fit in your hand comfortably. This way you’ll be able to lug your suitcase for a long time with ease.



Next to the handles, the wheels also form an essential part of a suitcase. Some suitcases come with two wheels while others come with four. Suitcases with two wheels tend to be lighter than those with four wheels but they are also more likely to be less balanced and tip over. Suitcases with four wheels are much easier to roll sideways and also tend to stand upright and balance better. Again, think of your journey and end destination before making a decision. Places with cobblestone streets or stairways make suitcases with wheels a nightmare to transport. In these cases having a smaller suitcase with a dual effect – wheels for rolling and which can also double as a backpack may be a better option.


The lock

Having a suitcase that contains a secure lock means you can rest assured and enjoy your holiday without having to worry about the safety of the contents inside. Instead of purchasing a new separate lock each time, rather invest in a suitcase that has an embedded lock and which doesn’t need a key. This way you don’t have to worry about losing your lock, or worse, the key to an already locked suitcase.


Do you have any tips for choosing a suitcase?


Posted by

I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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