Types of luggage

Published: 09th April 2010
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From heavy, metal trunks to sophisticated pull-along suitcases, travel luggage has covered a long distance. With so many types of luggage available in different styles and materials - each designed to serve a specific purpose - the consumer has never had it so good. So, if you are getting ready to leave on a jet plane and confused about what luggage to pick, here's a quick lowdown on different types of luggage available today.

Totes: The term tote means "to carry" and although many people confuse tote bags with a woman's purse, that, in fact, is not always the case. A tote bag is any large handheld bag that can be used to carry a variety of things. They are usually made from canvas, nylon, or leather. Some tote bags come with lots of pockets and compartments to carry different things.

Contrary to perception, tote bags are unisex (unless they are purse-style shoulder bags) and can be carried equally gracefully by both men and women. Some luggage manufacturers also make wheeled totes that are easier to transport and carry on the aircraft. Depending on their size, tote bags can be used to carry a few things or pack enough for a 2-3 day trip.

Garment Bags: Garment bags and covers are designed specifically for carrying longer clothes like business suits, evening gowns, long dresses, etc. These bags are generally provided with hangers for hanging the garments and are meant to prevent creasing that occurs due to folding of clothes.

Garment bags are especially useful for business travelers or people attending weddings as they ensure the suits, tuxes, and dresses packed inside remain wrinkle-free. Garment covers and bags are also available in various sizes and can hold anywhere between a single garment to 6-8 suits. They can also be rolling or non-rolling and bi-fold or tri-fold.

Wheeled Uprights: This is the most popular luggage style available today. Wheeled uprights come with either two wheels or four and a retractable handle to ease transport. They are available in various sizes from small carry-ons to large suiters. Carry-ons are usually in the size range of 18 inches to 22 inches and can be used for 2-4 day trips. Mid-sized wheeled uprights range from 23 inches to 26 inches and are good for week-long trips. Sizes ranging from 27 inches to 30 inches are referred to as large wheeled uprights. Large uprights can be used to pack two week's worth of stuff for a single person. Anything over 30" has the potential of being charged by air carriers for being oversized.

Wheeled bags can be hardshell (made from materials like ABS, aluminum) or softshell (made from fabrics like nylon or polyester). While hardshell suitcases promise longevity, softshell wheeled uprights offer maximum organization as they come with various compartments and sections. You may find various pockets for different things, built-in or detachable garment sleeves, and even laptop sleeves in a softshell wheeled upright.

Duffels: Duffel bags are cylindrical shaped bags with a closure or zipper at the top running through its length. Duffel bags are usually made of fabric such as nylon or canvas or even leather in some cases. They are mostly used by people to carry clothes and shoes to the gym or even for outdoor activity trips. You may also see athletes carrying their sports equipment in duffel bags. But duffel bags can also be used for long travel - especially the large, rolling ones with extended handles - because of their huge capacity and convenient handling. While duffel bags usually offer little or no organization inside, some of them do come with convenient pockets on the exterior that can be used for various purposes.

Backpacks: Most of us associate backpacks with school or college. However, backpacks are one of the most popular carry-on luggage varieties. There are essentially two types of luggage backpacks - 1) casual backpacks that are used to carry travel gear, and 2) business backpacks that are used to carry laptops and other accessories & documents. People use casual backpacks to carry a variety of items on leisure or adventure trips like hiking, biking, camping, etc. Some large backpacks, also known as rucksacks, are extremely popular with backpackers who carry little or no other luggage. Business backpacks can be used in place of briefcases and can be carried to work as well as business trips.

Laptop briefs: Laptop briefs are the quintessential business briefcases that we may have seen our dads and granddads carrying to work. The only difference is that they are a lot more stylish, come with a variety of carrying options (hand grip, shoulder straps, messenger style, etc.), and have a section to hold the modern-day gizmo that's replaced the olden day file - the laptop. A typical laptop brief has a lot of space to hold documents, accessories, computer peripherals, and small items like pens, ID, business cards, etc. They can actually serve as your "mobile office" while you're traveling!

With thousands of luggage manufacturers clamoring for your attention with their flashy designs and trendy styles, it is not difficult to get swayed. However, if you know exactly the purpose each luggage type is designed to serve, you'll be able to pick the one that best fits your travel needs rather than the one that first catches your fancy.

About the Author

Luther Davis is a marketing executive with a California-based software firm. He travels extensively for work within the United States and Europe, which makes him sort of an expert on anything travel related, especially luggage. He loves to network with travel enthusiasts and comments extensively on his experience with various brands and types of luggage.

Luther's other passions include learning different languages. He speaks fluent Spanish, limited French & German. When he is not brushing up on his French, you'll find him reading about different cultures around the world.

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