Best luggage and great tips for traveling -

When getting ready to travel, chances are you will need reliable luggage to get you there. But how do you decide on the best type of luggage for your next trip? 

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Today, there are so many choices from backpacks to wheeled luggage. Which one might be right for you? Do you know some tricks to packing? Then there is the dreadful thought of what to do if they lose your checked luggage. This is what today’s post is all about.

Let’s get to it…

Traveling With Luggage

5 useful tips when traveling to Italy.

Unless you are headed for a weekend trip, chances are you will need to pack more than a few things on your vacation. This will consist of several changes of clothes, basic toiletries, medications, and shoes.

What form of luggage might depend on your destination. If you’re going on a safari, you will certainly not need the same as traveling to Italy. A duffle bag, over-the-shoulder, or soft-sided luggage might be best for your safari. But, it certainly will be easier to have luggage with wheels when touching down in Italy.

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It used to be an easy decision to check your luggage on any trip. It used to be that the cost of checking your first piece of luggage was included with the price of your airline ticket. Not so much anymore. That is unless you have high status with your affiliated airline – which we do not.

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Check Your Luggage or Carry On?

These days travel is a bit different than it used to be. At least I feel this way. For most vacations or business trips (those lasting a week or less), you can usually fit everything into a carry-on bag.

Years ago, you rarely heard stories of lost luggage. Lately, Facebook is filled with daily stories of luggage that never made it to the travelers’ destination. Hence, we just purchased iPhone AirTags for when we check any luggage.

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A friend recently told us a story of getting off the plane, and when they approached the baggage carousel, one of their luggage pieces was missing. They headed to the Customer Service Center and inquired about their missing luggage. After the woman checked the back room, she informed our friend their luggage was not there. But our friend had an AirTag indicating it was there. So our friend showed the agent her phone, and the tag started playing a sound – indicating it was close by. After rechecking… they were reunited with their missing piece of luggage. Hmmmm…..

Carry On Luggage

If it’s possible, I prefer to carry on rather than check a bag. I always keep in mind that we aren’t traveling to a developing country, so there are always stores available if we need to purchase something. I will always carry on my laptop computer, tablet, other electronics, passport/documents, and all my prescription medications.  

All carry-on bags must fit either in the overhead compartment or under your seat. You must check the airline you are flying for their specific luggage dimensions. I’ve seen people try to take on a bag that does not meet the airline’s specifications and they are forced to check it – adding to the cost of the flight.

Also, you need to consider the possibility that the overhead compartments might already be full by the time you enter the airplane. The other scenario would be if you’ve overpacked a bag and it won’t squeeze in the compartment.

Checking in Luggage

One thing is for sure. The bigger your suitcase, the more you will be into it. It’s as simple as that. Don’t pack anything in checked bags you can’t bear the thought of losing. This might include valuable jewelry, pricey cameras, and sentimental items.

We know it’s not always convenient to only use carry-on on a trip. Let’s face it, sometimes we just need to bring a bit more. Here are two tips I read about once and always follow:

  • Use your cell phone camera to take a snapshot of your bag before you check it  It’ll be easier to track down when you can show an airline or train employee a picture of the missing item.
  • Make a list of everything that is included in your checked luggage. If the unfortunate happens, it will make filling out that form at customer service much easier knowing what’s missing.
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The Luggage Debate

It’s funny but people have definite opinions when it comes to this subject. Is soft-sided better than hard luggage? I guess it comes down to personal preference.

Hard-sided luggage will protect your belongings, but most also tend to weigh more and, it’s less flexible. There will be no squeezing a hard-sided bag into the overhead bin – that’s for sure.  

Soft-sided luggage can be vulnerable to the elements. Humidity can cause your contents to get damp. If the weather is bad and it rains when arriving at your destination, chances are your luggage might get soaked by the time it gets from the plane to the carousel.

Before Purchasing New Luggage

Similar to buying a new car and “kicking the tires” so to speak, make sure all the seams are properly stitched and zippers are properly working. Are the handles completely secure? These are things you should check out before making a new purchase.

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To Use or Not Use a Luggage Tag

Long ago, my parents would have included their name, address, and phone number on their luggage tag. Not anymore. The only thing you should include these days is your name, email, and perhaps your phone number – but the phone number is entirely up to you.

Tips for Packing Smarter

Here are a few suggestions that we’ve learned over time that might help you. The most difficult trip we ever packed for was in 2019 when we traveled to Italy for one year. I learned a great deal from that trip and we wound up twice sending back clothes and such that we brought with us. Turned out to be an expensive lesson.

  • Figure out which packing method works for you. Do you roll your clothes or lay them flat? I find rolling is better to maximize room. I am a big fan of the packing cubes where it doesn’t work for Gary at all.
  • Heed the saying… “When in double – leave it out.” As I’ve mentioned before, unless you are going off the beaten path, there will be a clothing or drug store close enough for you to purchase something you need.
  • Check the weather forecast just before your trip and plan accordingly. No sense in packing tank tops and flip-flops when the weather is supposed to be cold. Review your itinerary and know exactly what you’ll need. Try if possible to resist the temptation to pack something “just in case I need it.”
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What to do When Your Luggage is Lost?

Be familiar with your airline’s policy on lost luggage regarding domestic and international flights. This is a great article regarding this subject from the Elliott Report.

Bottom Line

Whatever the destination, and no matter how long or quick the trip, the biggest mistake is to overpack. Most people will tell you they brought too much stuff and didn’t end up using half of it.

Do you have any tips on packing that work well for you? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Best luggage and great tips for traveling -


  1. Packing tip: bring half as many clothes as you think you’ll need and twice as much money! (Thank goodness we don’t need Travelers’ Checks any longer!)
    We prefer rolling duffel bag-type luggage. On the trains in Italy, they go down the aisles easily and fit inside the triangle cubbyholes made by seats that are back-to-back.

    1. Ahhhh Dawn – great trip. I’ve never purchased the rolling duffel bag type but might be worth considering! Thanks for the comment and help to others reading!

  2. We spent a month last year driving around Italy in a rental car. Because we had the car and we were going so long, we over-packed. A full size checked bag each, a carry-on each and a personal item each. It was too much; lesson learned. On our next trip, we will only check one bag, and it will be smaller. We have since purchased a duffel that folds up in a small size and will use it as a checked bag on the way home in case we accumulate too much on the trip (easy to do with 14 grandchildren). We also use air tags, roll our clothes and use packing cubes in soft sided luggage and our personal item slips over the extended handle of our suitcase. We love our Travel Pro luggage too.

  3. Ilene
    Good tip to use a tag for those silly enough to check luggage
    I learned many years ago to always do carry on- no excuses, just make it work. Checked baggage is a no go in our family
    Ciao. Jeff

  4. Thanks Ilene,
    Watching a couple of Rick Steves videos years ago about light travel packing convinced us, we have been a one carry-on each per person ever since, no matter for two days in USA or a month in Europe; there was a Rick Steves quote something like “I have never met a person that ever regretted packing too light”

  5. Excellent article! Travelling with a carry-on only has been the best move we have made when travelling. The other tactic we have also used is to bring a small backpack (ripstop, very small when wrapped up) and, in a pinch, use it to check dirty clothes on the way back and leave the valuable souvenirs in the carry-ons.

    Maybe to extend this post, how about a post about what you have seen from a day bag or personal bag to have on you when touring? I have seen everything from backpacks to very small bags that almost look like fanny packs. Is there anything that Gary and yourself use consistently?

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