I’ve always struggled with packing for a trip. I’ve become pretty adept at packing items neatly, and have learned a few tricks along the way. For example, rolling items up instead of folding them lets you fit far more in a suitcase. And if you’re bringing along things like dress shirts and gowns but don’t have a dedicated garment bag, pack them in the plastic wrap that comes with dry cleaned items. I even leave the hangers on so I can take them out of the suitcase and hang them up once I get to the hotel.

But one issue that can always be tough is what to pack, and which suitcase to bring, especially when you’re travelling to a seasonal destination. How should you pack for travelling in the winter versus the summer, and to hot versus cold? It’s arguably more about what you want to pack then where you’re headed, and taking into consideration those
small details that you might not think of ahead of your purchase.

Summer or winter travel with luggage: bring extra, have options

I prefer to err on the side of caution and bring at least a light jacket or sweater, even if I’m travelling to a sunny locale. I learned my lesson after a few times finding myself rushing to a nearby store to grab a sweater because I didn’t think I’d need one. To prevent this, consider having a suitcase that can accommodate more than you think you might need if you’re travelling for a few weeks and staying in a hotel, so there’s room for those extra, last minute items. This is particularly so if you’re travelling with kids. While you can buy things like diapers and extra clothes, why add that expense if you can simply bring a larger suitcase and have it all with you?

If you’re travelling to a winter destination, items like a ski jacket and pants, bulky gloves and mittens, and boots, can take up more room than you think. In that such case, you may want to opt for a large piece of luggage versus a mid-sized, like the Travelpro Platinum Magna 8-Wheeled Expandable Luggage, which measures an ample 26”. It is also expandable to fit more items as needed, which can be a godsend when you realize you want to pack a few extra pairs of mitts and toques for the kids – just in case.

Heading out somewhere like on a cruise, you might think you only need a few items of clothing and some flip flops. But what about evening attire? Don’t forget that you’ll want to pack at least one pair of heels or dress shoes and suit/dress for the more formal evening events. In this case, a carry-on might not be enough, but a large piece of luggage might be overkill. Consider midsize luggage, like the Keneth Cole Reaction Departure, which is luggage travel24” in size, and has garment restraints inside so you can pack that suit and evening gown inside and not worry about it getting wrinkled or tossed about. But it isn’t so large as to be overwhelming. Or, bring an oversized suitcase to fit all of the daily wear clothing for everyone in the family, plus a garment bag, like the Delsey 45” Deluxe, to hold the evening wear and dressy items for your family members.

Other reasons you might want to opt for larger luggage rather than small is to hold souvenirs you want to bring back home, and a jacket to wear home if you’re travelling to a sunny destination but will arrive home to frigid temperatures.

Bring a separate suitcase for your child when travelling

I’ve tried to pack items for my son in my suitcase, and it has never worked well. Not only does this add stress, leading to sacrificing something I might need because of a lack of room, but it can also add significantly to the weight of a checked piece of luggage, requiring that you pay extra. If your child is old enough, he might have tons of fun wheeling his own suitcase behind him through the airport anyway. And kids’ suitcases come in a variety of fun designs they’ll love, like Paw Patrol, Frozen, Hello Kitty, and Star Wars.

This means they can also pack some extra stuff, too, like their favourite stuffy, extra underwear and clothing, and maybe a book or two for reading. This will be especially handy if you’re travelling to a winter destination and need to pack things like snow pants and other winter gear that can take up tons of room.

That said, some parents are extra light packers. If you find yourself in this category, consider getting an oversized suitcase, like the 30” Samsonite Pinsky Hard Side 4-Wheeled Expandable Luggage, that can be used to comfortably store all of your items, plus your child’s. (He can use a small backpack for stuff to use during the plane or car ride, like books, gaming device/tablet, headphones, etc.)

How do you choose the right luggage for travel to a summer or winter destination?

Getting the wrong sized or type of luggage can be frustrating. I recently bought a luggage pair, and realized after the fact that the larger piece was extra large, but the carry-on was smaller than a typical one. The larger one works out when I’m travelling for a week or so since I can fit more in it than I might in a traditional-sized suitcase. But travelling for overnight trips is difficult with the carry-on since it’s too small.

And I know plenty of people who try to travel with carry-on only. If you’re set on doing this for a family trip to, say, Cuba, where you’ll only need bathing suits, shorts, T-shirts, and other small and light items, consider getting one that’s as large as possible while still meeting airline requirements so you can still fit those added peace-of-mind items, like a sweater, pair of heels, and several bathing suit choices. The Samsonite Caribbea Ltd Hard Side 4-Wheeled Carry-On Luggage is 21.5” in size compared to the 18”, 19”, or 20” sizes of other carry-ons, and has multiple pockets inside to keep your items organized. My carry-on suitcase is a measly 18”, and I find that tough for fitting everything I need for just an overnight business trip. So look for at least a 20” carry-on if you’re heading out on vacation. And make use of the ability to bring a second carry-on by packing a small messenger bag or backpack as well to hold your passport, purse, headphones, smartphone, and other small items.

The safest bet is to opt for a luggage set that includes three sized pieces, like the Mancini Santa Barbara 3-Piece Hard Side 8-Wheeled Expandable Luggage Set, so you have options.

Bottom line

If you’re buying luggage for a particular trip, set out all of the items you want to pack ahead of time, and consider how much room you’ll need before deciding on a mid-size, large, or carry-one suitcase. Seeing what you need to fit in it is a great way to consider ahead of time how much room will be required to accommodate it.

If you’re a notorious over-packer like me, just go big. If there’s too much room left over, pack your little one’s stuff in your suitcase, too, or go ahead and pack that extra sweater or third (or, if you’re like me, fourth or fifth) pair of shoes. Prefer to pack as condensed as possible? There’s nothing wrong with stuffing a suitcase to the brim. Many suitcases are, as noted, expandable, providing that extra give when needed. Which means extra diligent traveller’s might be able to cram everything they need in a mid-sized piece of luggage, regardless of the destination.

Conversely, if you’re travelling somewhere cold, it’s a sure bet that your luggage will be filled with larger items, like turtlenecks, thick sweaters, and possibly even snow pants and other winter gear. So you’re probably better off with large-sized luggage to fit everything you’ll need.

Safe travels!

Check out lots of luggage options to meet all your travel needs at Best Buy Online

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.