It goes without saying that there’s a lot to organise before you jet set off to Europe for a much-needed vacation. The easiest part is booking your flights. From there, the more important tasks begin, such as picking your accommodation to more tedious tasks such as grabbing a luggage tracker and choosing an international roaming plan. And let’s not forget figuring out how much luggage you can take on your trip.
Whether that be a big suitcase, a backpack to live out that rugged Euro dream, or a carry-on for those short-haul trips within Australia, we’ve rounded up the best of the best when it comes to luggage, so you can travel without a hitch.
What to consider when choosing your travel bags
Suitcase or bag?
The age-old question when it comes to going on a big long-haul trip is always: should you take a suitcase or a backpack? Conveniently, we’ve tried both, and we truly think it really comes down to where you’re going and how much you’re packing.
If you’re spending most of your time in and out of hotels/hostels and aren’t planning on taking your luggage up on a damn hike, we’d say suitcases are the go — especially if you’re walking between accommodations and travelling to multiple destinations in the same trip. Why? Because rolling a suitcase is far easier than lugging a heavy backpack with all your winter knits (oh, and don’t worry about the cobblestone streets of Europe — chances are, your case will do just fine over them).
Soft or hardside?
Suitcases are always divided into “soft side cases” that are made from materials such as woven nylon, or “hard side cases”, which is where the suitcase possesses a rigid, shell-like frame. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
For instance, hard side suitcases offer better protection and are easier to clean. However, they’re more prone to scratches or scuff marks and are inflexible when it comes to squeezing more into them.
Soft side travel bags are better in terms of space allowance and are unlikely to suffer as much damage from stressed bag handlers. Unfortunately, they can be more easily cut open by would-be thieves and they tend to absorb liquids and smells, meaning they require more long-term maintenance. On the plus side, they are typically cheaper than most hard shell suitcases.
While you might think that spring for the largest suitcase is the best choice for your trip, it won’t be if you exceed the weight limit. Sure, having a big suitcase means you can stuff all manner of clothes and gifts inside of it. But it sucks when you have to pay an excess fee because you’ve gone over your allocated weight.
In which case, you ought to think about how much the suitcase you have weighs on its own. If you’re an overpacker, you might want to look for a suitcase that’s made from a lighter material such as polyester and nylon for soft-sided cases or polycarbonate, ABS and polypropylene for hard-backed ones.
If you’re planning your great backpacking journey through Europe, for goodness sake, please think about the weight you’ll be carrying on your back. Backpacking always seems fun, but only if you know what’s necessary to bring and what isn’t. Otherwise, you’ll be trudging around like a pack mule at the airport and that’s no fun at all.
The best checked suitcases for travelling
Samsonite Large Hardside Suitcase
One of our luggage faves for this very scenario is the Samsonite Large Hardside Suitcase. It’s super spacious and comes with a hard shell to stop your belongings from being ruined or squashed in transit.
July Checked Suitcase
If you’re one of those people that packs three months worth of clothes for a week-long holiday, this 80L baby has got you covered. It’s also fitted with July’s durable German polycarbonate shell and a TSA-approved lock for your valuables.
The best part? While it’s a little more bougie, you’ll get a lifetime warranty and a 100-day free trial with free returns — how’s that for neat?
Where to buy: July ($375)
Antler Clifton Hardside Suitcase
The Antler Clifton Hardside Suitcase also has a similar shell, but this baby is a little smaller if you want something that’s easier to manoeuvre in busy spaces.
Where to buy: Strandbags ($399)
Amazon Basics Hardside Suitcase
Alternatively, if you’re not a frequent traveller and don’t need something as durable and sturdy as someone who might be travelling every month, this Amazon Basics suitcase is a great value option.
Where to buy: Amazon Australia (from $179)
The best carry-on suitcases for travelling
We know this might be a pretty big investment for a carry-on, but if you travel a lot, the July Carry-On Suitcase might be worth it. Why? Because it happens to come with a built-in power bank, so you can recharge your devices while idle.
Much like the bigger Checked case we recommended earlier, this baby comes with a hard shell, a TSA-approved lock, a lifetime warranty and a free trial. July also offers free personalisation from time-to-time, so you can add your name or even a pic of your pet’s face to make it really unique.
Where to buy: July ($325)
Osprey Transporter Global Wheeled Carry-On Suitcase
For a fabric case that’s tough as nails, then hit up this Osprey Transporter Global Wheeled Carry-On. You might be able to fit a bunch of stuff in its main compartment, alongside a heap of extras in all the side compartments.
Where to buy: eBay ($359.80)
The best travel backpacks
If you’re going to be in more rugged terrain and will be taking your luggage on any hikes, transport boats or need to squish your bags onto any small overnight buses, sometimes a backpack can be the easier option in that regard. It also helps when you’re heading to summer climates as you can stuff it with a bunch of thin tank tops and shorts without it making your back give way every time you put it on.
If this sounds more like your style of travelling, this Kathmandu backpack will give you the best of both worlds since it features a pair of wheels at the bottom for when your back gets sore.
Macpac Torlesse 65L Hiking Backpack
Attention hikers: this Macpac features everything you’d possible need for your backpacking adventure. From an adjustable body harness, an internal base divider, a port for your hydration bladder and dual walking pole attachments, you’ll be equipped for just about anything.
RipCurl F-Light Global Midnight 100L Travel Bag
If you think a 65L to 70L backpack still won’t cut it, this 100L RipCurl F-Light Global Midnight Travel Bag is a step up, especially if you’re packing as a family or couple. With the added space for stuff comes more weight you’ll have to carry, though.
Thankfully, this baby accounts for that and comes with wheels and a handle — making it almost a suitcase hybrid — so you can roll it around, too.
The best travel bags
For our extra light travellers who can fit all their belongings into the 7kg carry-on limit (how you do it, we’ll never know), it might be time to invest in a carry-on that’ll be there for you in the long haul (as opposed to using that weird duffle you got as merch from some uni camp you attended five years ago).
We can happily recommend this minimalist Staple Superior Downtown Weekender that’ll store a couple of nights’ worth of clothes.
Where to buy: THE ICONIC ($69.99)
A lot of people we know tend to also use this Nike Brasilia 9.5 Medium Duffle Bag for its spaciousness, too. It’s made from a thin (but durable) material, meaning it won’t cost you half the baggage allowance in weight either.
July Large Tote Bag
Last, but not least, is our favourite tote bag ever – the July Everyday Tote. Open and extra spacious, this shoulder bag was designed for the frequent flier.
It’s fitted with an internal pocket, laptop sleeve, a drink bottle holder and even a pass-through band so you can secure it to your suitcase’s handle as you walk around.
Where to buy: July ($165)
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