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A Simple Luggage Buying Guide for International Travelers


Quality luggage makes international travel so much easier. The last thing you want is to struggle through customs with a broken suitcase, or find yourself unable to check a bulky bag. Use this guide to ensure your luggage works for you, especially on those long international flights.

Luggage Types:

There are three types of luggage allowed by the TSA:

Carry-on – Carry-on bags are smaller than traditional suitcases. Carry-ons are stored in overhead compartments, so they have to meet weight and size requirements. Pack your carry-on with flight essentials, such as snacks and electronics.

When shopping for a new carry-on, follow this expert tip from

“Many carry-on designs look fine in store and work perfectly well when they’re empty. The real test is to fill it up, and make sure that the retractable handle operates freely, and it doesn’t easily tip over. If you need to take it home to test it out, make sure you’re buying from a store with a full-refund policy.”

Personal item – A personal item is basically a second carry-on, except it does not go into the overhead bin. Instead, it’s held by the passenger, or slipped under the seat in front of you. Examples of personal items include: purses, backpacks, and laptop bags.

Checked baggage – Checked baggage is large, so it’s stored in a compartment underneath the airplane. It includes suitcases and large duffle bags, and often houses your clothing and supplies for your trip. Remember: there are restrictions on how many bags you can check. Most airlines restrict you to one checked bag, unless you can afford to pay the fee for a second or third checked bag.

Size and Weight Requirements

Fortunately, the TSA does not make the rules when it comes to baggage size and weight. Instead, airlines set their own regulations. “They also determine how many bags you’re allowed to check and what the fee is for additional bags,” writes Kelly Shetsky, in a USA Today piece titled: Requirements for Luggage on International Flights.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find an airline that allows you to travel with multiple checked bags, each weighing up to 100 pounds. Contact your airline, or visit their website, to determine their requirements. Make sure to specify you’re traveling international, as the rules may differ between domestic and international travel.

Types of Travelers:

Business travelers – The business traveler doesn’t want to be weighed down by bulky luggage, so look for pieces that are streamlined to meet your needs. For instance, you may want to ditch the laptop bag, in favor of a carry-on with built-in laptop storage. For added convenience, choose suitcases that feature wheels, such as Rimowa luggage, which features a flexible polycarbonate case.

Family travelers – Keep track of everyone’s luggage by purchasing bags in the same color and style. Label the suitcases and bags, so you know which piece belongs to who. Make sure kids are equipped with rolling luggage, so they’re not slowed down by heavy baggage.

Weekend travelers – Keep it simple: pack a carry-on with your clothes and essentials, and bring along a personal item for anything that wouldn’t fit in your carry-on.

Don’t Miss Your Flight Because of Your Luggage

If you can’t take your bags, you’re going to miss your flight. It’s essential that you plan ahead by contacting your airline, and determining exactly what their baggage rules are. Furthermore, you may want to review the TSA’s regulations on what you can pack, so you’re not held up by a pair of scissors or a bottle of nail polish remover. If you follow the rules, you’ll get there on time.


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