Before you even hit the road, the quality of your trip can be determined by which items of luggage you choose to take, and how effectively you pack. Ensure a smooth start by checking out some of our favourite pieces of luggage and our best-tested travel tips.
For any luggage, shop around for the best price and try to check it out in person first: judging purely from an online sales pitch can be hard. If you want to indulge in a lot more bag choices, we're big fans of Carryology.
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The Backpack: Osprey Waypoint
Backpacks fall into two categories: the ones for casual day-to-day tasks, and those you're going to use to store everything while roaming around the world. The Osprey Waypoint range combines the two, offering a dayback/main pack combo that's great for round-the-world travellers. Available in 65-litre and 85-litre sizes.
The Carry-On Bag: Tumi Voyageur
We know; the price tag is as high as a trip to South-East Asia on a budget airline. However, if you're a regular traveller and want a distinctive carry-on bag with solid wheels, adjustable handle and well-designed exterior pockets, this is a solid choice.
The Large Wheeled Suitcase: American Tourister Cube Alfa
Planning a shopping spree overseas? You need a lightweight suitcase with four wheels to breeze through airports. In this category, the American Tourister Cube Alfa is a classic, easy to handle and available in bright colours.
The Messenger: The Property Of . . . Tommy Work
If your main case is in the hold, you need something to carry the essentials. We like the Tommy Work from The Property Of . . . for its less office-centric design, handy pockets and modern wax-coated look.
Soft Bag: Everlane Weekender
If you're just heading away for a weekend drive, a casual soft bag makes the most sense. The Everlane Weekender comes in six colours, includes a handy internal pocket and sites well upright. It's also priced not to break the bank.
Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan
Effective packing doesn't actually start with the right luggage -- it starts with a list. For every item you're going to take, ask "When am I going to use this?" Count the number of days you're going to be away, multiply out with an appropriate number of clothes, add in any expected evenings out or changes. It's basic stuff, but that's what makes the difference. (The rest of this Ultimate Travel Tech series is filled with suggestions on what tech you might pack, but you still need clothes and toiletries for anything that isn't a day trip.)
Also do your background research, including what luggage limits and excess baggage charges apply to your preferred mode of transport and other associated rules. Remember that on domestic flights in Australia there are no restrictions on liquids, meaning it's feasible to pack your toiletries in carry-on luggage, but the same logic applies. And stay as light as you can: heavy luggage is more likely to be damaged. Photo: Hamish Blair/Getty Images
Work Out What Not To Pack
Continuing that point, not including excess items you won't actually need is vital. We've offered up suggestions in the past for things you don't need to pack, and that's worth checking out to kickstart your own list. Photo: Richard Giles
Use The Russian Doll Approach
For longer trips, compartmentalising what you have makes sense, no matter what form your luggage takes. If you simply pop everything in a suitcase or backpack, finding the one item you need can take forever. Adopt what I call the Russian doll approach, and place items in functional groupings inside cloth, zippered or plastic bags. That protects what you're travelling with, keeps everything sorted, and makes it easy to fill out a case. (I normally take an empty bag as well for filling with dirty laundry; fold this roughly before putting it in the bag rather than simply shoving it and you'll maximise available space.)
Pack As You Go
For long-in-development trips, this can be a very useful strategy: put a suitcase in a spare room and add something whenever you remember you need to pack it. I'd still recommend auditing the whole lot before you actually take off, but this can make the process of collecting everything together more relaxing. Photo: Emma
Take Just Enough Gadgets To Stay Charged
We made this point in yesterday's guide about staying charged on the road, but it bears repeating: you don't want to take every gadget (and charger) you own, but you do want to make sure you don't run short. A mixture of multi-purposes tech (computer, tablet, phone) and more specific items with longer battery life (Kindle, iPod) can ensure you're not without options when there's not something compelling to actually do.