Luggage 101: Breaking Down Bag Types and Luggage Deals

Whether you're packing for one night or the trip of a lifetime, the bag you bring matters.

Nov 3

Photo via ConvertKit on Unsplash

There are two big questions at the start of every adventure:

  1. What are you packing? (The answer is probably "way too much.")
  2. And what luggage are you using to pack it all? (The answer can be found below!)

Whether you're a seasoned traveler who knows how to find all the best flight deals or you're gearing up for your first big trip, one essential aspect of the journey is packing. Your luggage is more than just a bag—it's your trusty travel companion that carries your world on its often-wheeled shoulders.

This guide is here to help you navigate the sometimes overwhelming luggage choices all around you, ranging from classic suitcases to versatile backpacks and duffel bags. If you want to make an informed decision on which luggage fits which situation, that's a retail adventure all of its own, and it starts by breaking down the types of luggage out there. 

Types of Luggage

Luggage comes in a variety of styles and price points to cater to different travel needs. There is some overlap in luggage types, but overall, it can be separated into five distinct categories. 

Suitcases: These are ideal for longer trips where you need to pack a variety of clothing and items. Hardshell (or hardside) suitcases are great for protecting fragile or valuable items, while softside suitcases are flexible and can adapt to different shapes and sizes of items inside.

Carry-ons: These are smaller suitcases and bags suited to shorter trips or flights when you want to avoid checked baggage fees and the hassle of waiting at the carousel. Small backpacks and under-seat luggage are great for keeping essentials like your laptop, tablet, or a change of clothes within easy reach during your flight. 

Backpacks: There are as many types of backpacks as there are types of adventure, so this might not mean your old school bag. Opt for hiking backpacks if you're planning an outdoor adventure like camping as they're designed to carry more gear comfortably with many compartments for organization. Travel backpacks often have wheels and retractable handles while tech bags may have special padded pockets for delicate devices.

Duffels: Traditional duffels with handles and shoulder straps are great when you need a versatile, no-fuss option for carrying a lot of stuff wherever you go. Wheeled duffels are sensible for heavier loads, but you may want to avoid storing fragile things in a duffel if you're flying as the soft sides don't add much in the way of protection. 

Garment bags: You may be an expert at fitting as many outfits into a suitcase as humanly possible, but garment bags are for keeping your nicer clothes safe and wrinkle-free while you're traveling. Whether you're going on a fancy business trip or getting ready for a formal party, garment bags are a great way to make sure your 'fit fits your travel plans.

How Do You Find a Good Deal on Luggage?

Finding a good deal on luggage means more than just tracking down the lowest price. Finding quality means more than just seeing which Samsonite bag you can find without blowing through your vacation budget. Instead, finding a good deal often requires striking a balance between cost and quality—and there are some aspects of luggage you really don't want to compromise on.

Durability

First and foremost, durability is a must. Luggage goes everywhere you do without the added benefit of knowing how to stop itself from falling over. Never mind how rough your luggage may get treated.

Luggage sees quite a lot of wear and tear, particularly during air travel, so make sure you find a bag that can handle your travels. Investing in sturdy materials, reinforced corners, and quality zippers might save you from a real headache down the road. Skimping on durability might save you money on one trip, but it could cost you overall as you find replacement bags every few years instead of relying on one solid set for decades.

Material

While hardshell luggage may give your belongings some extra protection, it's not quite as versatile as softshell bags. Softshells fit around your belongings and can be pressed into tighter spaces like a car or a cramped luggage compartment. Hardshells stay the same size whether you pack for an overnight trip or for a month-long getaway.

Size

Another aspect to consider is size. Assess your travel needs and select luggage that suits your typical trips. If you're a frequent flier, investing in a reliable carry-on with the right dimensions can save you time and money on checked baggage fees. However, it's worth noting that some budget-friendly carry-on options may not be as spacious or structured as their pricier counterparts, so choose wisely.

Features and functionality

Especially when it comes to larger suitcases, robust spinner wheels are a huge convenience. Good-quality wheels make maneuvering through airports and busy streets a breeze. Instead of dragging a heavy bag around behind you, you can walk next to it with the bag upright—keeping it within eyesight, too. Opting for a cheaper option here might mean dashing through the terminal dragging a broken wheel: annoying at best, reason to reschedule a missed flight at worst.

If you're looking for bag accessories like luggage locks and tags, you feel like the perfect bag is impossible to find. But since so many of these extras can be purchased separately at various price ranges, you won't have to make compromises on the suitcase itself.

Luggage Deals You Can Check Out Now

As far as budget-friendly picks go, we've got you covered. Take a look at some of our current favorites to see if any are right for you.

InUSA Royal 20" Lightweight Hardside Spinner Luggage

Elevate your travel experience with this comfortable, convenient orange hardshell suitcase with silent 360-degree wheels and a retractable trolley system. Ergonomic gel handles and tie-down straps make this a comfortable, secure way to pack, and the micro-diamond finish looks stylish without standing out too much. This luggage blends durability with functionality, and it's only $58 (reg. $134.99).

DUKAP Intely 28" Hardside Spinner with Digital Scale

This 28-inch hardside spinner suitcase is durable with an expandable design and four dual-spinner wheels. The TSA-approved combination lock adds a layer of security, and the integrated digital scale could help you avoid extra charges for packing too much. It's backed by a 10-year limited warranty and costs just $117 (reg. $139.99).

Badgley Mischka Grace 3-Piece Luggage Set

This hardshell luggage set has a retro look and modern functionality. These suitcases are made from durable, lightweight ABS plastic and have a multi-level trolley system along with eight smooth spinner wheels for an even glide across the terminal floor. Each one of these suitcases is expandable, has reinforced handles, a variety of internal compartments, and an elegant look. Pack for your next big trip or get a set for the whole family for only $230.

Badgley Mischka Essence 3-Piece Expandable Luggage Set

This expandable luggage set is made from water-resistant ABS with a reinforced polycarbonate film. These pieces have a standout printed design, but the look isn't the only thing to pay attention to. Whether you're at the airport, train station, or heading home, roll along nice and smooth with eight spinner wheels and a multi-level trolley system. Mesh zipper pockets give you plenty of options for internal organization on these $220 (reg. $239.99) suitcases. 

Badgley Mischka Snakeskin 3-Piece Expandable Luggage Set

Travel in style with this sleek snakeskin luggage set that includes three hardside pieces with embossed ABS and a snakeskin texture. The gold accents and vegan leather may look delicate, but this set is still made to travel with an eight-wheel spinner system, expandable compartments, mesh pockets, and compression straps. Lightweight but tough, this luggage set still only costs $230.

Luan Diamond 3-Piece Luggage Set

This set of three eight-wheel spinner suitcases could help make a stressful trip through the airport quick and painless. These hardshell suitcases are made from 100% ABS with a variety of internal pockets and a built-in Add-A-Bag Strap to turn your carry-on into a ride-along. This set comes with reinforced corners, luggage protectors, and an included luggage tag. Plus, it's backed by a manufacturer's two-year limited warranty and only costs $250 (reg. $899.99).

Luan Wave 3-Piece Luggage Set

These beautifully colored suitcases are lightweight and sturdy with telescoping handles, double-swiveling wheels, and soft jelly grips. The interior has the signature Luan lining, and the exterior stands out just enough to help you get through the carousel quickly without double-checking tags. These suitcases have an expandable design that gives you up to 35% extra space, but they're still hugely discounted and only cost $220 (reg. $749.99).

Vittorio 3-Piece Luggage Sets

You don't have to pack light to travel light. Each of these Vittorio luggage sets has a hardshell design, an expandable interior, and smooth gliding wheels to get your belongings where they need to go. Featured in a variety of colors and shell patterns, these suitcases are all a great choice for long-term travel or a family on the go. 

StackSocial works with a variety of merchants and brands to bring you deals worth talking about. We may earn a commission on purchases made through our links. Prices subject to change.

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