Luggage Choice for Long Trips

Prior to our Europe Honeymoon, we had not taken trips together that lasted beyond a week. In more ways than one, the Europe Honeymoon was special. Logistically, especially. We thought hard about how we should pack so that moving around would be easiest. The mister, being the doting husband that he is, didn’t want to tax me over luggage. Eventually, we bought a large hard shell Samsonite luggage (could had been the largest available in the retail shop) and packed our clothes and stuff together. We also each carried a duffle bag to serve as our carry-on.

While our other group mates were struggling with their two to-be checked-in luggage (the husbands had to help their wives) at the airport we were flying out of, I watched on and marvelled at the pure genius of the mister. I will go as far to admit that I even sniggered a little.

It was their turn to snigger when it was time for us to return from London Heathrow, after a long 16-day of holidaying, amassing many souvenirs on the go. Our luggage was about 1-2 kg over 32 kg, which is the legal limit for luggage weight. Be careful not to mix this up with the baggage allowance (which differs from airline to airline). If one’s luggage exceeds the baggage allowance, one might be requested to repack and transfer some of the items into another bag, or to pay for extra baggage allowance. 32 kg (or 70 lbs) is the limit. The airline counter staff will not allow it even if one is willing to pay through the nose for extra baggage allowance. And there is a very good reason for this – luggage weighing beyond 32 kg is deemed too heavy for the baggage handlers to lift.

We had to, on the spot at the counter, open up our luggage, and transfer some items into our carry-on (which were already bursting at the seams). It was very, and needlessly, embarrassing for us because it being London Heathrow, the queue was long behind us. With nothing else to do while queueing, most people just looked at what we were doing while scrutinising our luggage contents. I’ve had many embarrassing moments my entire life (including walking up a bus with my pants’ zip undone as a teenager) but this experience topped it all. Nobody should be made to go through this harrowing experience, and we needn’t have, if we had read up (or had someone advise us accordingly).

After we emptied the contents in the luggage when we got home, we weighed the luggage empty. It weighed a freaking 13 kg on empty! Naturally it was banished to a dark corner in our storage room. All these years, the luggage has been left there and never used again. We know it is a white elephant but we just can’t bear to throw it out.

I daren’t say we are very seasoned travellers, but we have left home often enough to know what works for us. In essence, I have summarised some useful tips:

  1. Black and Navy Blue are passé, at least for luggage, they are. Opt for brighter, unique colours if you could, to easily identify your luggage on the belt. It also cuts down on the risks of someone mistakenly taking your luggage for their own (it has happened to my family twice, both times with the same generic Samsonite Black luggage). That is unless you are making business trips and cannot afford being seen in the company of luggage in a ‘zany’ colour.
  2. A luggage on empty should not weigh anything more than 8 kg, and most definitely should not weight 13 kg! One of the lightest luggage available commercially must be Rimowa. We bought a 31-inch Salsa Air in Germany and it weighed merely 4 kg. Cost an arm and a leg too. But with that weight cut, we are not complaining!
  3. Invest in a portable luggage scale; they are largely inexpensive. Unless you are a light traveller and is very certain you will never have a problem with the weight of your luggage, investing in one such scale will save you a lot of heartache. This item is a necessity for us because we tend to take long trips (almost 3 weeks) in winter, complete with our very weighty electronic gadgets.
  4. Always, always vacuum pack your contents in the luggage. You never know when you luggage might fall into water, or you might be asked to open your luggage and exhibit the contents to everyone in the queue behind you at the airport. Furthermore it reduces the volume of your luggage contents, in particular apparel. If you are not a convert yet, let me just tell you that you have absolutely no idea how much space is wasted by not vacuum packing.

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