Travel accessories must haves – Best luggage airline travel

Travel accessories must haves - best luggage airline travelThis is the first in a series of reviews of products to consider for your travel accessories must haves. The reviews below cover best luggage for airline travel including suitcases, bags and other luggage related products that score the highest customer reviews on Amazon, meaning these are likely to be excellent products, especially if the majority of previous purchasers had good things to say about them. In reviewing the best luggage for airline travel it is likely that any luggage able to withstand regular use on airlines and the abuse dished out by baggage handlers can easily stand up to any other type of travel use you could put it through.

Travel Accessories Must Haves - series posts

 

Suitcases and other luggage


There are several different types of suitcases to choose from these days and if you don’t know what the pros and cons of each type are the choice can be a bit daunting with so many brands available.

Material

Suitcases are constructed using either a hard (polycarbonate, polypropylene) or soft (polyester, fabric) material. Which one you go for depends on how often you travel and how lightweight you need the suitcase to be. If you travel by air often and your suitcase is going to be regularly subjected to the rough handling of airport baggage handlers, then it will pay you to go for hard luggage which is more durable but usually more expensive. Polycarbonate may show signs of wear and tear (scratches) eventually but at least your possessions inside will be protected. If however, you use a suitcase only to travel on your annual holiday once or twice a year a cheaper option is to go for a polyester or fabric suitcase. Some of these can be extremely lightweight, even for large suitcases and do not eat into that precious baggage allowance for checked luggage, allowing you to carry more of your own possessions with you.

2 or 4 Wheels

Having 4 wheels on a suitcase enables you to push it along like a trolley and makes it easier and less tiring for you, especially if the suitcase is large and heavy. Where as with 2 wheeled suitcases you need to extend the handle and drag it behind you, meaning you will end up taking some of the weight on your arm. Some 4 wheel versions can be tilted and used as 2 wheeled suitcases, with some versions having 2 wheels slightly bigger specifically for this purpose. When deciding on 2 or 4 wheels you should also think about where you will need to wheel your suitcase. Airports, train stations and other major transport facilities generally have smooth floors which a 4 wheel suitcase rolls across easily, but if you will be dragging your suitcase up a rough path to get to your accommodation a 2 wheeled version may be better.

Size

A huge variety of sizes are available but basically the capacity is measured in litres and the height in cm or inches. If you are tall (1.8m+ applies to men and women), then you can probably manage to lug around one of the very large 120+ litre suitcases. Remember a bag this size is going to be heavy and if you have any stairs to negotiate, such as some London tube stations, this is going to prove a challenge to smaller people. So better to go for a smaller suitcase, pack less and have less chance of straining your back. See Amazon’s Suitcase Guide so you can pick the ideal size for you.

Samsonite S’Cure Spinner 75cm/28

This is a suitcase for those requiring luggage that will last and stand the test of time. Made from Samsonite’s polypropylene material “Flowlite”, which is means it has a lightweight shell but is still extremely strong.
 
Pros

  • Hardwearing.
  • 4 wheels that rotate 360 degrees and an integrated multi stage pull handle make for easy maneuverability.
  • Rubber seal between the two sections prevent any moisture penetration and protect the contents.
  • 3 point locking system with a TSA approved lock.
  • Full zipped compartment in the lid and elastic cross straps in the base means it is easy to keep your things organised when packing.
  • Available in different sizes - 81cm (138 litres), 75cm (102 litres), 69cm (79 litres), 55cm (34 litres, hand luggage size). Various colours available.

Cons

  • As with any hard luggage the empty suitcase weighs more than soft luggage. At 4.5Kg (10 pounds) this uses up quite a bit of your stowed luggage weight allowance.
  • With hard luggage the case size is what you get so you can’t overfill it as there is no expansion.

Best place to buy

Samsonite SCure Spinner Suitcase

Wenger SA7208 Neo Lite Suitcase - Black, 29 Inch

A large suitcase made from Poly Jacquard (polyester) weave construction for a lightweight yet strong durable finish. Reviews of the product on Amazon have a common theme that it is a quality well made product.
 
Pros

  • Lightweight design - 4.2Kg (9 pounds).
  • 4 wheels that rotate 360 degrees and an integrated multi stage telescopic pull handle make for easy maneuverability.
  • Kissing zippers make it easy to lock them together for security.
  • 2” expansion.
  • Bottom carrying handle to help with lifting.
  • Adjustable elastic internal cross straps.
  • 2 exterior front pockets, netted pocket inside the lid and removable internal wet pouch.
  • Available in different sizes - 84cm, 70cm, 46cm (hand luggage size). Various colours available.

Cons

  • A bit expensive for a fabric suitcase that does not have a hard shell, but Amazon have regular deals to give you the opportunity to pick up a bargain.

Best place to Buy

UK - Amazon.co.uk (rated 4.8 out of 5)

Wenger SA7208 Neo Lite Suitcase

Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 25 Inch Expandable Spinner

The MaxLite3 25 inch spinner is an ultra lightweight suitcase. It has a honeycomb framing system and EVA construction, while the outer material is polyester.
 
Pros

  • Ultra lightweight design - 3.5Kg (7.8 pounds).
  • 4 wheels that rotate 360 degrees and an integrated multi stage telescopic pull handle make for easy maneuverability.
  • Built in skid guards, corner guards and crash guards help protect the wheels.
  • Expandable main compartment
  • Bottom carrying handle to help with lifting.
  • Adjustable elastic internal cross straps.
  • An exterior front pocket, netted pocket inside the lid and accessory pocket.
  • Available in different sizes - 29 inch, 25 inch, 21 inch (hand luggage size). Various colours available.

Cons

  • As with any luggage of this type, occasionally  the careless handling of airport baggage handlers can take it’s toll on the fabric with scuffs and tears possible, although only a few reviews on Amazon reported such problems.

Best place to Buy

US - Amazon.com (rated 4.6 out of 5)

Travelpro Luggage Maxlite 3

Eastpak Tranverz L Two Wheel Holdall

This luggage is an alternative form of suitcase, half duffle bag half suitcase, is lightweight and extremely hard wearing. The bag has a stiff back and ends and the top half can be compressed down onto the lower half using the straps if the bag is not packed to the full capacity.

EDIT (6 April 2016): I bought one of these Eastpak Tranverz L Holdalls myself for a recent trip to India and it survived the baggage handlers completely unscathed. Not a mark on it. It holds tons of stuff and you could easily go over the airline weight limit if you're not careful when packing. Very easy to organise your stuff with two main compartments. Very pleased with this luggage.
 
Pros

  • Lightweight design - 4.1Kg (9 pounds)
  • 2 wheels and an integrated telescopic pull handle make for easy wheeling. The wheels are very quiet.
  • Has an upper and lower compartment that zip together and are lockable, plus compression straps.
  • Each compartment has an internal zipped cover to keep your gear in place.
  • Outer zipped pocket.
  • Sturdy handles on the top and side.
  • Being soft luggage it is less likely to suffer from airport handling damage.
  • Available in different sizes - 77cm (121 litre), 66cm (78 litre), 50cm (42 litre, hand luggage size). Various colours available.

Cons

  • Being soft luggage if you have any breakables stowed inside you will need to make sure it is well protected

Best place to buy

UK - Amazon.co.uk (rated 4.6 out of 5)

Eastpak Tranverz L Two Wheel Holdall

Dakine Split Roller Bag

A similar concept to the Eastpak bag above only this bag is a bit bigger and has even more features. The top half is soft like a duffel and compresses to the lower half which is stiff and contains the wheels and telescopic pull handle.
 
Pros

  • Lightweight design - 5Kg (11 pounds)
  • 2 wheels and an integrated telescopic pull handle make for easy wheeling even on rougher surfaces. The wheels are quiet and rugged.
  • 4 compartments in all. One main compartment in the lower half. Three compartments in the upper half, with the two smaller compartment able to hold four pairs of shoes and a larger middle compartment.
  • All compartments have zipped covering to keep your gear where you put it.
  • The two halfs zip together and are lockable, plus compression straps.
  • Two exterior organizer pockets on the upper half for documents and other small items.
  • Sturdy handles on the top next to the pull handle, the side, two grab handles on top of the upper half and a handle on the bottom next to the wheels means it is going to be easy to lift anywhere including off airport luggage collection conveyors.
  • Available in different sizes - 32 inches (100 litre), 30 inches (65 litre). Various colours and designs available.

Cons

  • Being soft luggage if you have any breakables stowed inside you will need to make sure it is well protected

Best place to buy

US - Amazon.com (rated 4.7 out of 5)

Dakine Split Roller Bag

Packing cubes


Packing cubes are designed to help keep your belongings that you pack in your luggage organised. If you are one of those people that pack your stuff into your luggage with the best intentions of keeping your things organised but struggle to find a small item tucked somewhere in the middle of everything then these packing cubes are for you. These will also help if you are someone who just throws your things in the bag haphazardly and then finds all your clothes are creased at the other end. The different sized cubes can be packed with items grouped together - tops in one, bottoms in another, undergarments in another and miscellaneous items in another or use to separate dirty and clean clothes.

TIP: For maximum space efficiency when packing your clothes into one of these cubes roll your clothes so that there is no dead space.

Evatex Travel Packing Cubes, Set of 4 Pieces with Shoe Bag

Four different sized fabric packing cubes with mesh tops and a free shoe bag.

Pros

  • Easy to pack.
  • Strong nylon material and zips to withstand stresses of packing.
  • Mesh tops make it easy to see what is inside if you need to find an item during your journey or you go through a security checkpoint.
  • Different sizes so will fit into most luggage. Approximate sizes - X-LARGE: 44.4cm (17.5") X 32.4cm (12.75") X 9.5cm (3.75"), LARGE: 34.9cm (13.75") X 24.7cm (9.75") X 9.5cm (3.75"), MEDIUM: 27.9 (11.0") X 17.1cm (6.75") X 9.5cm (3.75"), SMALL: 25.4cm (10.0") X 12cm (4.75") X 9.5cm (3.75")
  • Available in a range of colours.
  • 100% refund guarantee or replacement if you are not happy with the product.

Cons

  • Packing cubes are mostly sold in sets of different sized cubes so if you wanted more of one size they can’t be ordered singularly.

Best place to buy

Evatex Travel Packing Cubes

Luggage weighing scales


Knowing how much your luggage weighs before turning up at the airport check in desk has become more important, as airline charges for extra weight above your allocated weight limit can be very expensive. A good solution is to use a portable hand held digital weighing scales. These are lightweight and can be taken with you on your trip so that you can also weigh your luggage before your return flight in case you bought a few too many souvenirs while you were away.

Duronic LS1008 Digital 50KG Capacity Luggage Scales

Digital display weighing scales that enables you to easily measure the weight of your luggage. Simply loop the strap through a handle on your luggage and hook over the clip on the scales.
 
Pros

  • Measure in both Kilograms, Stones and Pounds.
  • Digital display is on the top so you can read the measurement without bending when weighing your luggage.
  • Easy to use with thumb operated on/off button.
  • Batteries included.
  • Scales weight 140g so it is lightweight to carry with you on your trip
  • Available in black and white colours.
  • 2 Year warranty.

Cons

  • Does not come with a case.

Best place to buy

UK - Amazon.co.uk (rated 4.6 out of 5)

Duronic LS1008 Digital 50KG Luggage Scales

Tarriss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale 50Kg Capacity

Very similar in design to the weighing scales above that makes weighing your luggage a breeze.
 
Pros

  • Measure in both Kilograms and Pounds.
  • Digital display is on the top so you can read the measurement without bending when weighing your luggage.
  • Easy to use with thumb operated on/off button.
  • Auto lock display, auto shut off to save power - batteries included.
  • Scales weight 91g so it is lightweight to carry with you on your trip
  • Stainless steel finish
  • Life time warranty.

Cons

  • Does not come with a case.

Best place to buy

US - Amazon.com (rated 4.8 out of 5)

Tarriss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks


If you are travelling in the United States the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) require your luggage to be accessible when you are not present. Luggage locks that are accepted by the TSA can be opened with universal master keys. These type of locks were developed by Travel Sentry, an organisation that manages standards in travel security. Every lock with the Travel Sentry diamond logo is accepted by the TSA.

TRIXES 4 x Family Value Bundle Pack of TSA Padlocks for Holiday Luggage

Using TSA approved locks you can securely lock your luggage and still allow TSA inspections of your luggage contents without damage to the lock or your luggage.
 
Pros

  • TSA accepted and approved lock.
  • Combination can be reset as often as you like.
  • Available in various colours.
  • Approx. Size: 6.7cm x 3.0cm x 1.2cm.

Cons

  • Combination can be a bit fiddly to reset - follow exact instructions given in product description.

Best place to buy

UK - Amazon.co.uk (rated 4.6 out of 5)

TRIXES 4x Pack TSA Padlocks

TSA Lock Heavy Duty Combination Luggage Padlock Travel Security Approved

Very similar to the above lock but is a heavy duty type lock.
 
Pros

  • TSA accepted and approved lock
  • Combination can be reset as often as you like
  • Approx. Size: 1.2 x 0.6 x 2.4 inches
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Combination can be a bit fiddly to reset - follow exact instructions given

Best place to buy

US - Amazon.com (rated 4.9 out of 5)

TSA Heavy Duty Combination Luggage Padlock

 

If you found the above reviews of travel accessories must haves - best luggage for airline travel helpful, please share so others can benefit from the information as well or if you have any questions or tips of your own for luggage and related travel accessories leave a comment below.

Travel Accessories Must Haves - series posts

 

Posted in Top Tips For Holidays, Top travel advice, Travel accessories must haves and tagged , , , .

Neil

I grew up in the UK and still live there today. Throughout my life I have travelled extensively in Europe, Asia, Australasia and US on holidays, mini breaks, business travel and longer travelling trips, so founded http://TopTipsForHolidays.com to help people by providing top tips for holidays and travel.

22 Comments

  1. Hey Neil, this article was put together very well. I am really glad that you posted this and I was able to find it, it was great timing. I will be travelling very soon and I actually was looking for some things that I really needed. Out of all the suitcases you recommended what would you say the best one is? Thank you once again and I hope you have a great day sir.

    • Hi Michael,

      I just bought the Eastpak Tranverz L 2 Wheel Holdall myself, which is a fantastic piece of luggage. The ‘L’ denotes the large version, but it also comes in medium and small sizes. You can certainly get a lot of stuff in the large version, probably more than the 20Kg airline baggage allowance fully packed. The compression straps allow you to squash down the bag to a smaller size if you don’t manage to fill it. I went for this bag because the other reviewers on Amazon mentioned that it stood up well to careless airline baggage handlers. I’m also going on a trip soon so the proof will be after I have tested it for real.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Neil

  2. Hi Neil,
    This was a really comprehensive review of some really good options. I’ve traveled a lot between UK, USA and Australasia, and find the harder cases are better, with 4-wheels – much easier to wheel around and better protection. Thank goodness I haven’t ever had to master a London tube station though! Think I would just want a small back pack for that.
    Mara

    • Hi Mara,

      Yes the 4 wheeled hard cases are easy to move around and offer great protection for your stuff. But you are right, easy to move around airports with nice flat smooth floors is one thing, a London tube station can be another matter. Some of those tube stations were built long ago and not designed for people manoeuvring wheeled suitcases. Although a lot have escalators there are many that still have stairs to negotiate to get up or down from the platforms. A rucksack on your back is definitely easier in this case.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Neil

  3. Hi Neil,

    I found your review very informative and helpful. The Samsonite look very strong and I love the look of it:) I am planning a trip to France soon and was just looking for a high-quality suitcase with four wheels. Just a question, please. Is it easy to clean the Samsonite suitcase? Because I soil them very quickly! If so, what do you suggest?
    Thank you very much

    • Hi Daniella,

      Most manufacturers suggest only using clean water to wipe the surface but I suppose you can use a mild detergent then rinse thoroughly with clean water. If you mean the outside shell of the suitcase this should be very easy to clean with the Samsonite. Most suitcases have nylon fabric lining which is easy to wipe clean too.

      Thanks for your comment

      Neil

  4. Hi Neil – I used to travel a lot, but have calmed down of late. However I intend to start up again in the future. Your post on travel accessories is really useful.
    One thing I didn’t know was about the TSA requiring access to your luggage.
    Whilst i understand this surely these master keys can also be obtained by some less scrupulousness people?
    Great post
    Mark

  5. What great information! I think we often underestimate the importance of the right travel bag. From packing to running through the airport to meet a connecting flight, the right luggage could cut down on serious stress. Though I admit I have never made the investment. With kids it is now even more imperative for ease of travel so it may be time.

    • Hi Ilyssa,

      Yes buying quality luggage is a great investment as the bags should last you a long time, withstanding the rigours of baggage handlers and other bumps along the way in today’s world. Buying cheap luggage can be a false economy as you just end up having to buy a new bag again after the first brush with a rough baggage handler destroys your bag after one trip.

      Thanks

      Neil

  6. Wow this gets really into all the details with luggage.
    I have an adorable leopard print suitcase and it’s perfect because it’s cute and easy to find at the airport haha.
    However, my boyfriend does need one himself since we want to go to Disney sometime soon.
    That’s handy to have a scale like one of those you mentioned. Then you don’t have to worry about your bag being overweight and having to pay extra for it. Neat article

    • Hi Gina,

      Thanks for your comment. A leopard print case would certainly stand out against the majority of luggage which is just plain black. I do have a black case but tie a small length of bright coloured ribbon to the handle, which makes it instantly recognizable to me when my bag is on the luggage carousel. I use weighing scales every time I fly to check the weight as I know the charges for extra weight can be steep.

      Thanks

      Neil

  7. I am a seasoned traveler who has lived in 4 different countries and traveled all around them. I call the US my home, but have not lived in the US for over 5 years now. I do travel back their often though. Having proper luggage for airline travel is a must. I still avoid the locks but I think now that they are TSA approved maybe I will venture into getting some.
    Thanks again for the write up.
    Marc

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your comment. It is always worth using some sort of lock on your luggage as it deters thieves who may look for easier targets without locks and it ensures your bag stays closed when baggage handlers are handling your luggage.

      Thanks

      Neil

  8. Hi Neil

    The truth is that for all but shorter trips I have to be prepared with a set of suitcases and I think the suitcase with 4 wheels shown, seems the most appropriate for comfort as all the weight goes down to the ground and not to your body. Probably this is going to be the case that I prefer for my next trip. Thank you for the advice.

    Renan

    • Hi Renan,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, suitcases with 4 wheels are easy to push around than the 2 wheel variety which you need to pull. One tip for 4 wheel cases, pack anything heavy at the end with the wheels so the suitcase doesn’t become top heavy and tip over.

      Thanks

      Neil

  9. Unfortunately, there isn’t a pre-requisite size offered by all airlines for carry on’s. I know Jet blue is pretty generous in letting you take a lot of different sizes when I travel with them, but its hard to get the right size for everything you may need for a trip in a carry on. I know a couple years ago United got even smaller with their regulations. Narrower at least. We know most airlines just want that bag fee, but avoiding that with a bag that has the right texture that’s light that has a great volume can be cool if you travel a ton. This is actually a pretty good place to get specific sizes and exactly what you need. Thanks.

    • Hi Queue,

      I know airlines have different requirements for carry on luggage and some US airlines give you a more generous allowance than some European airlines. I realise it’s not an exhaustive list but this page Wikipedia gives some basic guidelines for cabin baggage allowances from the International Air Transport Association. Hope that helps.

      Thanks

      Neil

  10. Hi Neil and thanks for the very informative review. I’ve had the same luggage for years, and had no idea of the advances that have been made.

    I also had no idea that TSA locks were required (or that even having a lock was a good idea).

    Would you recommend a lock when travelling by air?

    • Hi Jim,

      Yes I would recommend using a lock on your luggage when travelling by air. Transport Security Administration (TSA) approved locks are only really required if you are travelling to or in the USA. This is so that TSA agents can look in your luggage for security checks. If you are travelling by air anywhere else outside the US any padlock will do and it’s your choice whether you use a combination or keylock. I use combination locks so I don’t have to worry about losing the keys.

      Thanks

      Neil

  11. Great review and great topic, as I am considering buying a new travel bag for my upcoming trip to Paris. I think I’m going to stick with a two-wheel, as I have heard that the four wheels are a lot heavier. Tell me, if you are a Prime member of Amazon, is the shipping free for luggage? Thanks!

    • The four wheel luggage shouldn’t be too much heavier than the lightweight fabric suitcases. So the choice really is do you want to drag your luggage (2 wheels) or push it (4 wheels). I checked Aamazon prime on both the US and UK sites as I am not sure where you are from and they say that delivery is free, is unlimited and available on millions of items. They don’t say if luggage is generally included. However, you should be able to check this easily when ordering and many of the luggage items I recommend have free delivery.

      Thanks

      Neil

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