What Type of Luggage to use?
Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The decision of what type of luggage to use was quite a big one for us. There are so many choices out there it can get a bit bewildering. So how did we choose?
Luggage for the Hold or/and Cabin
We decided to have each type of Luggage – just one for the hold between us and two for the cabin. That way, we have a bit of extra luggage, yet by ensuring we have the essentials and clothes for the next few days in the cabin bags means that we can easily survive if the Hold bag goes walk about. (So far so good – none lost, however friends of ours have not been so lucky).
So ask yourself: do you want to have just a Carry on that you can take on the Cabin with you? The benefits of this is that you don’t ever lose your luggage. Definitely a consideration as sometimes you may be quickly travelling onto another destination and if your luggage goes on a detour, you may end up staying near the Airport waiting for it.
Also a number of the cheaper Airlines charge extra for putting luggage in the hold. Our flight from Hong Kong to Auckland cost us an extra £100 to do this.
I found a lovely bright yellow cabin bag on the internet, yet when I compared the size to the bucket airlines it was too big! Do bear in mind that these type of Airlines are reducing their cabin sizes quite often these days – probably due to the cost of fuel / tax and heavier passengers. Check out the sizes allowed for Airlines– they can vary. Bucket ones such as AirAsia, Whizz and EasyJet usually only allow smaller sizes within the cabin. For example at the time of writing:
Jetstar and AirAisa both allow 1 bag no bigger than 56cm (h) x 36cm (w) x 23cm (d) plus a small handbag with a total weight of 7kg for their basic service.
Ryanair cabin bag size is different at 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing up to a generous 10kg plus you are also allowed a small handbag no bigger than 35cm x 20cm x 20cm. (However if you do not have priority boarding then the bigger bag will be put in hold at no extra cost). On their website they don’t mention how heavy the small bag needs to be.
We have noticed that the budget airlines are becoming more stringent. On the very first flight of our grownup travellers journey with Easyjet at Bristol, we were allowed one cabin bag on board each with a larger size of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and there was no weight limit however I did have a small handbag with me as well as my cabin bag rucksack and at boarding was instructed to put my bag into the rucksack – stipulating the one bag rule. I stuffed my jacket pockets full and only just managed to get the bag squeezed into my already very tight luggage – lesson learnt!
On our flight from Sydney to Melbourne, three ladies had to pay an additional A$60 each because their bags weighed more than the allocated 7kg so don’t get caught out and end up paying extra – Always check the current sizes and weights on the airlines’ websites – we suggest don’t use any other source as the air carriers may have recently changed their terms and conditions.
Despite the advantages of only having cabin luggage such as quicker on and off the flight and little chance of it getting lost, the downsized is that you will need to be very stringent with the amount of clothes, technology, and toiletries you take. It can be done though (Unless, like Tim, you want those 5 pairs of shoes!)
Rucksack / Wheelie / Hybrid
We opted for a hybrid – luggage with wheels as well as shoulder straps – however, I must admit at the time of writing over 150 days into our journey, we still haven’t used the rucksack option. The reason we decided to have a hybrid was that we went on a long weekend to Bruges in Belgium, wheeling our cases around the cobbled streets was very noisy and quite irritating. A rucksack would have been so much easier.
If you go for just a Rucksack, you do need to consider the weight. Before you buy one, see if you can borrow a friend’s rucksack to give it a go. Have a walk round your nearest town and see if this is an option for you. Can you carry your full luggage easily for ½ hour? Also make sure that the rucksack has padded hip straps - you don't want the weight hanging down from your shoulders - you'll end up with back ache. Also, if you can get one with a wet pocket, then if you ever need to travel with a wet towel or wet/dirty shoes, you have a place to put them without getting everything else wet or dirty.
Wheelie ones are whellie good (sorry, I couldn’t resist), especially those with the 4 wheels so you can either push or pull, however the extra weight difference can eat into your luggage allowance.
Soft / Hard
We have opted for soft in both cases, they are so much lighter. Also, we don’t have anything breakable except our laptops, and they are with us on the aeroplane in nice padded cases.
The benefits for Hard Suitcases are that they are strong, good for protecting any fragile items and have better security. The drawbacks are that they take double the space when opening them – which can be an issue if you are in a hostel or a small bedroom. They also are less flexible when travelling in cars or buses and do tend to weigh more than a soft case.
Personally we find that packing a soft case easier, we can organise our items more easily, quickly putting a jumper in or out rather than having to lay the hard case down and open the whole thing up. Often they have external zip pockets which are great to put things in quickly, being careful of security though. And of course they take up less space when they are open, weigh less and more flexible in cars and buses.
The main drawbacks to soft cases is that the material is flimsier than the hard cases, so may not last as long being prone to wear and tear and less secure. Your choice – always good to read reviews.
Remember, it is worth doing your research and imagining travelling over a long period of time with your luggage. This is one of your main investments, so be wise, take your time and go with your gut instinct – it usually does the job.