What’s in the Bag?

5 factors to consider when picking the right travel bag                            

If there’s one thing I always need myself to remind of when traveling locally or abroad that is to travel light. Every time I travel, I’m always at the brink of having an excess baggage and/or bringing clothes or items which I – almost always – end up not using at all.

For those who are having a hard time traveling light like me, finding a perfect luggage that’ll pass the airline standards and can accommodate all my belongings is always a challenge.

Photo courtesy of http://www.hdwallpaperup.com/
Photo courtesy of http://www.hdwallpaperup.com/

So here are five factors to consider when choosing the right travel bag:

  1. Durability. Checking your luggage is like gambling with your belongings. Something could get lost, stolen, break, and so on. Your travel bag has to withstand wear, pressure, and damage – in short, it has to be durable.

When you have a connecting flight or a transfer, checked baggage is usually forwarded to your final destination and will change planes when you do. Worst comes to worst, your luggage won’t end up with the same flight as yours. Baggage handlers fit freight of 100 or more bags in a cargo pit. The luggage has to fit how it’s going to fit at whatever angle, side, or position. Unless there’s a “fragile” sign, some baggage handlers will just carelessly throw your bags. 

So make sure your travel bag won’t burst, break, or give up on you in the middle of nowhere. You don’t want people to see what is inside your bag especially if it’s your intimate apparel or swimwear.

  1. Size and weight. Know the size, number of baggage, and weight requirements you can check-in and hand carried baggage before packing or traveling. You don’t want your travel bag to weigh more than the items you packed in there. Weigh your bag before you leave the house especially if you’re traveling solo so you won’t end up throwing or removing excess items at the airport. 

For KLM flights, economy class allows one suitcase with a maximum of 23 kg (50 lbs) for check-in baggage and one bag and one accessory for a combined maximum of 12 kg (26 lbs) for hand baggage. For business class, one’s allowed to bring two suitcases each with a maximum of 32 kg (70.5 lbs) and one bag, one smaller bag, and one accessory for a combined maximum of 18 kg (40 lbs) for hand baggage.

For Philippine Airlines, it recently introduced a new range of Fare Families or Branded Fares, where distinct free baggage allowance is associated to each fare. For domestic flights, it ranges from 10 kilos to 30 kilos or more while for international flights, it starts from 20 kilos up to 40 kilos or more.

For Cebu Pacific flights, only one piece of baggage is allowed to be carried on board provided that it does not exceed the dimensions 56cm x 36cm x 20cm for ATR (Avion de Transport Regional in French) flights.  It should not weigh more than 7 kgs (15 lbs) for all flights except in Caticlan which has a maximum carry-on baggage weight of 5kg. Check-in bag must not exceed 32 kg per piece.

  1. Multifunctional. Although this only happened to me once, when my flight to Cebu was delayed a few years ago, I was moved to the next flight. Unfortunately, it was also full of passengers and there’s no more room for checked baggage. I had no choice but to carry my supposedly for check-in bag with me all the way to my seat, which I can’t even put in the overhead compartment. 

Nowadays, even large travel bags can become backpacks when they have padded back straps. Most bags, from backpacks to large travel bags have wheels, back straps, and retractable handles.

So look for a travel bag that is handy, can be carried or strolled, has built-in or extra pockets/compartments where you can store your rubber shoes, workout clothes, or extra footwear, swimwear, or sports equipment, in case you’ll need them.

  1. Affordability. People often equate quality with price, which is not always the case. Not because it’s expensive, it’s quality. Choose a travel bag that you can afford. Designer bags are more of a fashion statement than a travel tool so it’s a not good choice for experienced travelers. Besides, you don’t want to spend all your money to buy a travel bag when you can have them for less.
  1. Stylish and unique. You think you know your bag too well, but trust me, you may end up picking up the wrong bag amongst hundreds of bags lining up in the carousel because it looks exactly like yours. 

How to avoid this? Pick a bag that is unique, with a bright colored bag, or with very visible markings, something that you will always be able to spot quickly on the luggage carousel. My mom likes to tie a colored ribbon in her luggage, some likes to put a name tag. Whatever your choice is, the goal is to be able to spot it easily and not be mistaken as someone else’s bag.

If you can make the most of your carry-on bags, please do. Leave out items you won’t really, really need. Remember, when you travel light, you won’t have to wait at the luggage carousel and worry if your bag was lost or it didn’t end up with you in the same flight. After all, traveling light is still the surest, best way to enjoy your trip.

The above figures may vary so be sure to check with your airlines for the updated guidelines. Originally published at Health and Lifestyle magazine and TravelPlus magazine in 2014. Republished with minor edits. 


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