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Whether you’re heading to the lake this summer for a weekend escape, or are eagerly counting down the days to the winter adventure you’ve meticulously planned over the past year, there’s one travel necessity you should be sure not to overlook–your luggage. I mean, you don’t want to be that person wheeling their squeaky, mothball-ridden relic of a suitcase through the airport, now do you? Peer pressure aside, there really is something to be said for travelling with good luggage; and with so many options available, you can get away with a bag that suits both your style and your trip.  

Get away with stylish coordinating pieces

IT-3-Set.pngIf you’ve got a big trip planned that will require multiple wardrobe changes and multiple pairs of shoes, or if you’re travelling with your family, a coordinated set like this one from IT Luggage’s Amsterdam 2.0 collection is a fantastic option. First, they match and are available in red, pink and orange, which is such a nice departure from the blah black and blue you typically see spinning around baggage claim. Second, IT Luggage is known for its lightweight design, and with so many weight restrictions on bags these days, you really don’t benefit from heavy luggage.

Perhaps best of all though, is that each of the three bags in this set features an expander system, which increases your storage if you happen to pick up a few gifts during your getaway. Another great set to consider is this Duraliton Neptune 3-Piece Hard Side Set, also from IT Luggage. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of hard side luggage, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. My beef with them was their inability to expand, but the suitcases in this set all expand for up to 25 percent extra capacity. Combine that with their durability, strength, and scratch resistance, and you can be sure they’ll be accompanying you on many trips to come.

Get away with adding a little flair

ITumi-Floral.pngf solid colours just aren’t your style, you can spice things up with a bold pattern with a suitcase from TUMI’s Tegra-Lite collection. This floral pattern is available as a 28” 4-wheel spinner, and 23” 4-wheel spinner, and both are made to withstand a bit of a beating. I’m not kidding–they are constructed from Tegris, which is a polypropylene thermoplastic composite material that is used in lifesaving armour, Nascar racecars, and protective gear for NFL players. Needless to say, your stuff will stay protected … unless your shampoo explodes during flight.

If you like the idea of a patterned suitcase with a little flair, but floral isn’t your thing, TUMI’s Tegra-Lite collection also features camouflage and sea-scape designs. Or, you can go with a shiny blue, grey, or beige metallic.

Get away with a carry-on

Carry-On.pngIt’s always irked me when I’m flying and a passenger somehow manages to roll their gigantic suitcase on the plane and then proceeds to get angry when it won’t fit in the overhead bin. I don’t know why I get irked, but I do. And as it turns out, I’m not alone. In fact, Air Canada has just recently started cracking down on passengers with oversized carry-ons so it’s important you know the carry-on rules when looking at new luggage.

For Air Canada, anything over 23cm x 40cm x 55cm (9” x 15.75” x 21.6”) will now need to be checked. For example, a small suitcase like this 21” Hard Side 4-Wheel from IT would be fine to bring onto the plane, as would this 20.5” 2-Wheeled Carry-On from TUMI. Anything bigger, and it’ll be going to baggage. And don’t just assume that because you’ve purchased a bag labeled as “carry-on” that it will meet an airline’s restrictions. I just discovered in writing this post that my beloved Burton Wheelie Flight Deck 21.5” Carry-On is too big to be considered a carry-on by Air Canada. I’m not thrilled about that. I love this bag!

So do yourself a favour, and don’t risk it. If you are adamant about not checking any luggage, then you’ll need to become a packing ninja and fit it all into a carry-on. If you can’t fit it in, then you’ll just have to accept the fact that you’ll be waiting at baggage claim with everyone else.

Keep in mind though that you can also bring a “personal item” onto the plane with you in addition to your carry-on, like a purse (or perhaps a man-purse?). It just needs to be 16cm x 33cm x 43cm (6.3” x 13” x 17”). If you’re not sure what that looks like, just think of a piece of 11 x 17” paper that is 6” deep and you’re golden.

Get away with a backpack

Burton-Backpack.pngA friend of mine left for a three-week trip to Europe last week with only a backpack for luggage; and I’m not talking about those massive backpacks that weigh as much as the person carrying them, but a regular, run of the mill backpack. I had a small panic attack when she said she was only bringing two outfits. That said, I’m sure some of you out there can reason with her insanity and can picture yourself doing the same, and I suppose with a backpack with plenty of interior room and pockets, like this Day Hiker from Burton, it’s entirely doable.

Alternatively, you can use a backpack as your carry-on, and then it can serve double duty when you get to your destination. I did just that last fall when I went to Peru. I used my Burton Day Hiker 12” Laptop Backpack as my carry-on, and then it accompanied me as I did the 4-day trek into Machu Picchu. Granted, it was a little dirty on the trip back, but it worked out perfectly.

Get away with not paying airline fees

Travelling anywhere can be a pricey endeavour, so here are some tips for avoiding paying additional airline fees:

  1. Understand your airline’s fee structure – Playing dumb when you are at the check-in counter won’t do you any good. Before you book your airfare, make sure you understand the various fees the airline charges. Do they charge for human interaction? Checked bags? Using the washroom? It’s good to know before you get to the airport.
  1. Don’t change your dates – While this can sometimes be unavoidable, if you aren’t 100% sure of your departure or arrival dates, hold off on booking your flight. Even if you’ve stumbled across the deal of the century for airfare, it won’t be looking so good when you’re gouged $75 or more to make a change.
  1. Consolidate your bags ­– if you are travelling with more than just yourself, try to minimize the number of suitcases you bring to avoid checked bag fees. While some airlines allow for one free checked bag per passenger, it seems this is become the exception to the rule as many airlines move towards a “if you’re checking bags you’ll pay” model.
  1. Go minimal – if you can do what my friend did and stick to one carry-on for your trip then you can avoid checked bag fees altogether. Also, if you know you’ll be bringing back a lot of gifts, clothes, or anything else along those lines, you can look into having them shipped to your home rather than bring them back with you on the airline. It could potentially be cheaper.

Getting away from the day to day is always a good idea. In fact, I think Jawaharal Nehru said it best: “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” And now, go pack!

Check out Best Buy’s lineup of luggage and start counting down to your next adventure.