For many travelers, the right piece of luggage is key to a successful adventure. Various types of luggage ranging from small under the seat bags, to large check-in bags, exist each with the intended purpose of being able to fill a person’s need for a bag. For me personally, I recently realized that I would need a bag for my upcoming trip abroad and so I quickly undertook the task of finding the right bag for me and my needs.
In order to find the right bag, I first acknowledge the circumstances that I would be traveling under. I was acutely aware that I would be forced to carry my bag for long periods of time, either loading it onto buses, lugging it up staircases, or a variety of other circumstances that surround traveling between four countries in less than thirty days as part of the Western Civilization program. Realizing this I was forced to acknowledge that I am incredibly weak when it comes to upper body strength or any strength for that matter as I am not a strong person. This lead me to decide that I should not take a large bag with me on my trip, as I should be able to carry my own bag. This lead to me researching types of bags on the smaller side of things from duffle bags, to carry-ons, to really small checked bag sized bag. In this research, I identified a variety of advantages and disadvantages associated with each style and type of bag, all of which I have listed below.
With soft casing and the ability incredible portability, they possess duffle bags became an interesting option. Many duffle bags have wheels too, giving them 3 modes of transport, over the shoulder, in hand, or to wheel through. Additionally, they come in a variety of sizes, ranging from gym bag size to the size of a body bag. However, the downside of the duffle bags parallels their advantages. Their many carrying straps are easily caught on a variety of things such as doors, elevators, or cars. Additionally often when I use duffle bags for overnight trips, I have a tendency of tripping on the straps and face planting into asphalt. Not the most enjoyable experience. Duffle bags also tend, like many items do, to get heavier with the more items you put in them, and upon going over my packing list I realized I would be putting a lot of materials inside of my bag. This practically gets rid of the advantage of being able to sling it over my shoulder as I know that my shoulder would most definitely be unable to sustain that weight. Due to these factors, I realized that duffle bags while having a high score in mobility were not suitable for my trip due to concerns I had with the straps and the weight of my bag removing any advantage the mobility would have had.
With fewer straps but still flexible with its soft cover, a soft case suitcase was the next type of bag I considered. Soft Suitcases often are advantageous due to their ability to be squished down to fit into smaller spaces. I found this to be a significant perk to bring along a soft case bag as if I wanted it to fit on a bus or plane I could try to make it fit. Another aspect of the soft case’s exterior was that when fully packed they can be slightly expanded in order to contain all the items I put inside. Although they can not expand much I still found this a considerably beneficial quality as it may help me fit more souvenirs in my bag! However, the downside of the bag, like in the duffle bag parallels its strength. While the soft exterior allows for a fluidity in size, it also allows for rain to get in. This was a concern for me due to the worry that if I am caught in a storm while traveling, my gear could possibly get drenched. This was especially concerning to me as I love technology and will definitely bring it with me on my trip, causing a problem as if my luggage where to get soaked my electronics could get waterlogged and damaged or at worst broken. This would have a significantly negative impact on me as breaking my phone or camera would lead to a significant loss in money and a decreased ability to perform daily activities. Due to these concerns, I decided against bringing a soft bag, however, if I were traveling to a dryer area I do believe this may have been my ideal bag due to its ability to change its size easily.
Similar to soft case luggage, hard case luggage typically has wheels and one to two handles. However, unlike soft case luggage hard case luggage has a tough, often plastic exterior that can protect the items inside the luggage from the rain. The exterior also is typically tougher and more resilient than that of soft case luggage due to the inability for the case to rip. Additionally, this type of luggage comes in a variety of sizes, from carry-on to check in size. Although unlike the soft case luggage these bags cannot be forced to include additional materials due to the inflexible exterior. However, I found this to be the best bag style for me due to the hard exterior being able to protect my gear the best.
Although I selected a hard case bag for my travels, I still believe that each of the other types of bags is perfect for another person. Each bag provides its own advantages and disadvantages that I encourage you to consider before getting one. For me personally, I valued protection for the gear inside my bag, and a lighter bag in general when it came to selecting my chosen bag. However, when it comes to picking your own bag I recommend prioritizing what you want most in your luggage before committing to using it on your trip.