Finding the Right Luggage for You

Finding the Right Luggage for You

When Francis Boswell began his small business in 1738 he probably didn’t envision that 278 years later not only would the store still be here, but that it would have grown to include so many departments. But the store began its long and fruitful life by selling travel goods to the people of Oxford. 

Naturally the travel industry has rather changed over the centuries, and if you’ve had a look at what’s on offer in the luggage world recently you may have noticed that there's enough variety out there to make your head spin. Worry not, Charlie from our Luggage Department has offered up his superb advice to help demystify finding the right luggage for your needs. Here's what he had to say...

Keep scrolling to read the whole blog, or to read a specific section, simply click the links below:

Size                                      Style                             Other Things to Consider

Weight                                  Warranties

Choosing the Right Size Case

Members Suitcases ImageCharlie: If you're trying to avoid having to check in luggage altogether, or simply want to make the most out of your carry on, allowance size can be everything. Whilst the vast majority of airlines adhere to very similar restrictions on hold luggage, cabin luggage allowances can (and do) vary wildly. What may be permissible for one airline may very well be considered to be oversized for another. 

Sky cabin Case

The maximum size allowed on an airline is restricted to 56cm tall by 45cm wide by 25cm deep by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and, at the time of posting, this size is used by British Airways and EasyJet. However as mentioned above many airlines will come in well below these restrictions, with some airlines allowing only cases shorter in height, narrower in width, shallower in depth or any combination thereof. Click here for a brief summary of some of the major airlines' carry on restrictions. 

S'Cure Interior Image

An important thing to note is that when an airline is measuring the size of any bag you're taking with them, it's the extreme of each dimension that is measured. This means that the bulge of the front pocket to the rear of the case, and the very top down to the base of the wheel is what will be taken into account. This can have a noted impact with 4 wheel cases, with the wheels located externally under the base of the case, raising the height up by as much as 4 or 5 cm.

Plane Image

Beyond the issue of size, weight limits are set by different airlines once again to varying levels of restriction. Whilst some airlines don’t mind what you take as carry on, as long as you can manage it yourself, others restrict you to weights little more than that of an average handbag.

We can’t stress enough the importance of checking the restrictions on your tickets prior to travelling. The knowledge that you are travelling safely within whatever limits are placed on you will make the journey not only easier and calmer, but also potentially a considerable amount cheaper.

Weight & Construction

Charlie: With the temptation to over pack for an upcoming trip and the looming prospect of potential overweight fees, making sure your luggage comes in under the weight limit has never been so important.

Travel Scales

Whilst the weight of a suitcase may only be a small portion of the overall value when the case is full, the benefits of selecting a lighter model to start with can be the difference between having to pay additional baggage costs and slipping in under the wire. Many ranges can be considered to be “lightweight,” and are labelled as such, but it’s important to compare what different ranges are offering in order to find one that suits your needs. A lighter case may very well have slightly smaller dimensions, for example, or have fewer internal pockets and dividers, which may be something you find useful when travelling. 

Samsonite ImageIt may also come as a surprise, but some of the very lightest cases are now hard sided options, which traditionally have been the heavier, more durable choice compared to their fabric counterparts. The decision between opting for a hard sided or soft sided case now sits as a choice between the specific features available within those ranges, rather than a material principle. For the vast majority of hard sided options an expander and external pockets aren't available as features, and if these are something that you live and die by using then the choice may well already be made for you. If you can live without these features then the choice opens up much more. The material a case is made from also has an image of defining its durability, but in reality each type has its own vulnerabilities and in the end it comes down, far more, to the quality and level of investment in a piece, which will better predict its life expectancy.

Selecting a Style

Marvel Suitcase Image

Charlie: If we can pass one piece of advice onto our customers when it comes to the style of luggage to look at purchasing its “try to say no to black.” Now we will be the first to admit that as a colour black has always been considered a classic and the only consistently stylish colour, season after season, but this has left the vast majority of cases on any trip to be almost identical. If you can avoid having a plain black suitcase and go for something a little more standout it will repay you many times over in saved minutes waiting at the luggage carousel after a long flight.

Uplite Case Image

Soft sided fabric suitcases may not have the most adventurous colour pallet on the whole but you can still find some light options in teals, pinks, reds and greens, for example. When it comes to hard side cases you’ll find even more options, ranging from simple bold bright colours to graphic designs and repeated patterns, the sky is the limit.

Having said our piece against black suitcases, we must counter it by saying that all is not lost if you do already have a plain, dark case that you travel with. There are of course ways around the monotony of monochrome with brightly coloured luggage labels, straps and padlocks to add a little individuality, and to make recognition and collection that little bit easier.

Advice on Warranties

Beach ImageCharlie: Many luggage manufacturers have a well-deserved reputation for standing behind their products’ quality and durability through their manufacturer’s guarantees. These warranties are, by and large, limited to defects in either the materials used or the standard of workmanship. Whilst there are a couple of exceptions to this, the vast majority of brands will exclude damage caused by mishandling or natural wear and tear from their responsibility. This is not to say that these guarantees are token gestures, rather that they divide the responsibility for care between the maker and carrier fairly.

For peace of mind we would always advise our customers to inspect their luggage on receipt from a carrier, be it an airline, coach company or cruise liner, and note any signs of damage. If you are unfortunate enough to find signs of mishandling then be sure to document it and raise a query with a member of their staff at the point of collection. This will make the claim much easier to process and much more likely to go through with minimal difficulty.

Airport Image

For processing guarantee claims manufacturers may operate on either a repair or replacement service, with companies such as Samsonite carrying spare parts for cases for many years after they last sold them. This can be a valuable service where only a minor fault renders a case unusable but could be easily fixed, such as a sticking trolley handle or a broken wheel.

(Image Credit)

Other Things to Consider


Spinner WheelAs well as size and weight, it can be helpful to consider what other factors are important to you when choosing a case. Manoeuvreability can have a big impact on how smoothly your journey goes, and if you’ve ever had to make a quick dash between gates or terminals with luggage when changing flights you’ll agree some good wheels and a sturdy handle can make all the difference.

If you’re likely to be doing most of your travelling around airport terminals, you may find a 4 wheel spinner case glides alongside you most easily, but remember these will also add to the height of the case, and the wheels are more exposed to damage than on a 2-wheeler. A 2-wheeled standing case is well suited to rough terrain, such as pavements and curbs, and so may be just the thing for train journeys and UK excursions. Remember though that this type of recessed wheel, along with telescopic handles, will use some of the case’s internal space up too. Upright Wheel Image

It’s important, also, that you’re comfortable with the size of the case that you choose, and that the length of the handle suits your needs. Something that is either too big or too small for you to easily manoeuvre is probably not your ideal suitcase! If you're likely to be travelling home with more than you left with, having been on a serious souvenir binge, remember that you will need a case that can accommodate those extra items, and don’t forget to take this additional weight into consideration when you initially pack.


If you’re travelling to the USA then its strongly advised that you invest in a TSA lock, which allows customs officials to open your case if necessary without having to damage your lock. These can be used if you're travelling to other destinations too, although customs may still need to cut the lock to check your case. An increasing number of cases are now available with the TSA lock built in, which is especially useful if you are a frequent visitor to the USA, or other TSA supported destinations.

Come Visit us In Store

Luggage Department Image

Getting the right luggage to suit your needs is an important part of any trip, and so picking a suitcase that's going to be a loyal and convenient travelling companion is key. To make the best possible choice of case we highly recommend popping in to store to speak to one of our fantastic in-house luggage experts, and to get a thorough look at what's on offer. Our Luggage Department can be found on the ground floor, by the Broad Street entrance of the store, and we have a growing range of luggage available on our website also. And finally, wherever you're going, whether its within the UK or abroad, for business or for pleasure, be sure to have a memorable, enjoyable and safe trip! Bon Voyage!

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20th April 2016

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