5 Quick Travel Tips: Luggage

Travel TipsWhen it comes time to get from A to B, choosing the right luggage is a pretty big consideration, especially when airline travel is concerned. Having the right luggage can sometimes mean the difference between a smooth airport experience and a really unpleasant one. To help make peak travel season go a little smoother, we've decided to share a few helpful tips.

Carry-On and Checked Bag Size
Specific regulations about luggage size vary depending on the airline, but most have similar rules. The most common recommended carry-on size for U.S. airlines is: Length 22" x Width 14" x Height 9". According to American Airlines and Delta airlines, the size limitation of your luggage is calculated by adding the total outside dimensions (length plus width plus height). Carry-on bags should be no larger than 45 inches total. A checked bag should be no larger than 62 inches total and weigh no more than 50 lbs. If your bag is too heavy, additional fees may be charged. Most luggage labeled as "carry-on" will fit within these dimensions, but it's still a good idea to double check before you buy.

Important Note: Luggage size and weight allowances for international flights and flights on smaller planes often differ from the larger airlines. Always check before you pack.

Expandable Bags
A bag with an expandable midsection is a big bonus, especially if you plan to buy anything during your vacation and bring it home. Just make sure to pack your bag with the expandable section closed to ensure you have extra space on the return visit. Also, make sure your bag still falls under airline size requirements when fully expanded.

Locking Your Bag
Most modern luggage includes lockable zippers, and many even come with small locks. While TSA will often only scan your bag, there's a chance they may want to open it later for a physical inspection. If your lock is not TSA-compatible (meaning a lock they can open with a special master key), it's going to get cut. If you like to lock your stuff, get a TSA-approved zipper lock.

Travel Tips Two examples of TSA-approved locks

Differentiate Your Checked Bag
Black and red are two of the most common luggage bag colors, which means there's a good chance you'll be playing Where's Waldo when you get to baggage claim. Here's a simple solution: purchase a luggage strap in a different color. It'll make your bag much easier to spot, and add additional stability. An even cheaper solution is to wrap some colored tape around the handle.

Don't Skimp
The zippers on your luggage are going to be open and closed a lot throughout the life of your bag, especially if you travel several times a year. Plus, your bag is also going to be tossed, slid, jostled, stuffed and crammed into small spaces. Avoid that catastrophic, mid-airport zipper failure by investing in a reasonably good quality bag. You can also add additional security with an exterior luggage strap.

I hope you'll find some of these tips helpful. Have any travel advice to add? Leave a comment and share your tips!

Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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