4 tips for luggage shopping according to pro travelers

Travel is back big time and whether you're racking up the miles for work or planning a relaxing getaway, there's one staple that travelers must have: luggage that can keep up with the journey. The right bag and approach to packing can make your trip a breeze, while the wrong luggage and poor planning can cause unnecessary frustration.

To uncover what luggage will last and still be easy to use, look to the advice of those who are always traveling for work and leisure — like Ofelia Silva and Ken Sosko, executives of Travelpro, the pilot-founded luggage brand used by airline professionals from more than 90 airlines globally.

From what to look for in quality and features, to how to effectively pack your suitcase, Silva and Sosko share their top four tips and tricks that every traveler should know.

1. Quality over trend

Before buying that trendy suitcase you’ve been eyeing, take the time to research the quality of the item and the brand. Look at the materials and check it has reinforced stitching, resilient zippers that stay on track and closed, and handles sturdy enough to not bend or buckle when in use.

With its professional and clean design, Travelpro’s best-selling Platinum Elite collection is Silva’s top pick for business travelers while the new Maxlite Air collection is ideal for leisure trips with its lightweight build, allowing you to pack everything you need and more. Both collections are rigorously tested for durability, while remaining sleek and stylish.

2. Softside vs. hardside luggage

The debate between softside and hardside luggage is red hot among travelers, but it really boils down to packing style and personal preference. Looking for a little extra packing space? Softside luggage easily expands, allowing travelers a bit more packing flexibility. Searching for a suitcase that is incredibly sleek in its design yet ultra-resilient to damage? A hardside suitcase with its clean lines and strong polycarbonate shell is the go-to option.

To make sure the brand’s luggage withstands the toughest travel conditions, Sosko’s testing team works hand-in-hand with airlines to go behind the scenes at airports, examining what luggage really goes through. This insight informs the brand’s 15 durability tests, including a rolling test, cold drop test and a handle strength test, which all result in luggage that is crack, scratch and moisture-resistant.

3. The art of packing

Even if you have lightweight luggage, overpacking is a common pitfall for travelers. Prior to each trip, take ample time to think about what you need and how you will pack everything. Think of a capsule wardrobe you can bring, meaning interchangeable clothes that complement each other. Keep in mind, shoes are often heavy and take up space, so either wear your heavy shoes on the plane or think of leaving them at home for something lighter.

As for the act of packing itself, some travelers opt to roll clothing to save space and eliminate wrinkles, while others swear by packing cubes, allowing you to divide your suitcase into specific compartments. No matter the strategy, consider doing a practice run in the week leading up to your trip to see how everything fits.

4. Luggage set advantages

Since you’ll probably need both a checked bag and a carry-on suitcase at some point, why not buy both as part of a set? Not only will your luggage match, but the price is usually less than buying two single bags. This also gives you the flexibility to choose the right-sized suitcase depending on your packing needs and destination.

If you’re traveling light, a carry-on suitcase will likely hold all of your items and spare you the hassle of checking a suitcase. You'll also save time if flying with a carry-on because you’ll avoid waiting at the baggage carousel, not to mention it reduces the risk of lost luggage. Just make sure you know the size and weight limits for both checked and carry-on luggage before flying to avoid overweight fees.