Luggage Buying Guide UK 2021

Thanks for taking your time to read through our UK luggage buying guide. One thing for sure is that buying luggage is never an easy thing to do. Do you go for a luggage set, just a simple suitcase, a hard sided one or a soft sided one, one with wheels?

Are you better off with a carry all, a hold all, a duffel or just a good old backpack?

Even when you get past that simple decision then what about the appearance, its durability and strength, what colour you want, what size it is, and can it be locked and made secure?

Well that is the purpose behind this useful luggage buying guide for people in the UK where we will try to answer all your questions and more.

If you have decided to buy some luggage, and walked into a shop, the choices are quite incredible. Although that is a good thing to help keep the price down, the wide range of choices can also make it very confusing.

Below we have listed the different types of luggage available with a brief description of each that list the most important features.

You will then find a link to an individual buying guide for each that has a Top 10 Comparison Table of the highest rated products within that particular luggage category.

Just before that, it is worth understanding that as far as air travel goes, there are two things to properly understand. In terms of flying, you can either take a bag onboard the air craft with you, put a bag in the hold, or do both.

Basic Hand Luggage Rules for all Airlines

Hand luggage is referred to by different names such as hand luggage, carry on luggage, and cabin luggage. It is the bag that you can take with you on to the flight and keep it in the overhead cabin or under the seat in front of you.

These are restricted in size and in weight, and none of the airlines have exactly the same restrictions so it can all get very confusing.

When airlines refer to size they mean from the top of the bag to the ground including the wheels. That is very important as many travelers assume it just refers to the actual size of the bag. Each airline has a cage at check-in and if it doesn't fit inside that, it will have to be checked in, and likely result in a charge.

It is also worth noting that on very busy flights, there may not be enough room for everyone's hand luggage. Airlines then have the right to put your hand luggage in the hold, free of charge, but you will have to go to the baggage carousel to collect your luggage.

Basic Check In Luggage Rules for all Airlines

Check in luggage is also referred to as hold luggage. These bags have to be checked in and they will go into the hold of the aeroplane. That means you will have to pick that up in the baggage carousel at the airport you are landing in.

These are restricted in size and in weight, and none of the airlines have exactly the same restrictions so it can all get very confusing.

When airlines refer to size they mean from the top of the bag to the ground including the wheels. That is very important as many travelers assume it just refers to the actual size of the bag. 

Most airlines will allow you to check in up to 3 of these bags per person, but there will be a charge for each bag.

Now if you are going on holiday or traveling and it doesn't involve a flight, then you can use almost any type of luggage that you want without restriction. There will of course be other considerations such as the available space in the car, carrying camping equipment etc.

General Suitcase Information

In these modern times the choices are quite staggering and both  soft sided cases or hard shell suitcases. Most of them come with wheels and almost all of them come with a telescopic handle that make them simple to move around.

They will usually also have a carrying handle at the top and one at the side. You can buy these either as a single suitcase, or as a set of suitcases.

Most commonly you will find that these cases now come with 4 wheels which mean you have no need to tilt and pull, and can simply wheel the case at your side, rather than have to pull it along behind you.

Suitcases basically come in 3 types:

  1. Soft sided suitcases for check in luggage
  2. Hard shell cases  for check in luggage
  3. Cabin bags/cases for carry on luggage

Soft Sided Suitcases

These remain popular simply because they are slightly cheaper than the hard-sided options. These soft sides are usually made from polyester or nylon.

The better quality ones will be made from a high quality woven fabric, that is much stronger and resists scuffing and tearing.

Some but not all are waterproof, but even these will not be fully waterproof if left for any length of time in the rain.

Many of these can be expandable and that can be a handy feature if you need to pack those extra few things in when travelling on a longer holiday.

soft sided suitcases

These are normally zipped closed and may have a few small compartments inside. Most people will then lock their cases with a small padlock that joins the two zipped connections together.

Generally speaking this is the type of case you will see when people are going on a longer holiday of 10-14 days or longer. They will only stand up to a certain amount of wear and tear and will eventually need replaced.

Almost always the length of time that they last comes down to how often you travel, and how your luggage is treated by baggage handlers. Personally we would not recommend buying an expensive version of this type of case as inevitably it will need to be replaced as a result of those not so careful baggage handlers in airports.

You can buy these as a single case or as a set of cases.

Hard Shell Suitcases

As the name would suggest these are a rigid or solid case. Almost all of them are made from moulded polypropylene or ABS plastic.

They have been designed to stand up to the rigour of frequent flyers and for people who want to make an investment and buy a good quality case.

The disadvantage is that these are heavier than the soft-sided and the advantage is that it can withstand a lot of abuse.

The ABS is the lightest of the two options and is made from the same type of material as crash helmets.

Aerolite 4-Wheel Spinner Hardshell Cabin Hand Luggage Suitcase

These will be more waterproof than the soft-sided but again, if left out in heavy rain are not 100% waterproof.

Travelers tend to use these if they fly on a regular basis or if they need to protect fragile objects. The more expensive varieties of these will also have strong and secure metal frames with key and combination locks.

Many of them will have straps in the lid and base and that means you can pack each side separately. Often you will also see a middle divider. We do prefer these to the soft sided cases but that said on a like for like basis, they will be a more expensive choice.

You can buy these as a single case or as a set of cases.

Cabin Bags

Cabin bags also referred to as flight bags, carry on bags and hand luggage are small to medium sized bags that fit into the overhead lockers of an aeroplane or are small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

Their design is similar across the brands and they will have a few pockets for passports, travel documents and are ideal for an overnight stay, a weekend bag or for a shorter type of break.

Just be aware that the size allowed differs with each airline and airport, so make sure to check on that.

cabin suitcase

These are very popular with both day travelers and for people who are perhaps doing an overnight stay, or even a weekend stay. Some people will use this size of a bag for a week away, or for a city break of 3-4 days.

If you can use one of these and it holds enough of your items, then of course you can avoid having to wait for your baggage at the arrival's terminal. That is always a very good thing in our opinion.

Duffle Bags for Travel

Many travelers, especially younger people prefer these to the more formal suitcase. They will hold roughly the same as a suitcase, but are of course lighter. Most are made of canvas, leather or polyester, and will have a couple of carrying handles

These are however usually carried with an over the shoulder strap which can be adjusted. The strap can also be removed if not required. Some will have a few interior pockets.

These days though even these come with wheels and a telescopic handle. These are also a great choice for people going to festivals or who are driving around from place to place. They are pretty tough bags and many of them come with reinforced bottoms which are waterproof.

the-north-face-base-camp-duffel-travel-bag

Holdalls for Travel

Some people like to use a holdall, especially if there is a generous weight restriction on the budget airlines such as Easyjet.

These can be carried by handles, by using a shoulder strap and there are some models that have wheels. These are quite popular as it helps distribute the weight.

They come in a range of sizes and styles and they are an affordable type of luggage.

Backpacks for Travel

Some travellers use one of these for their main luggage requirement and some as their cabin luggage. The only difference in doing that is of course the size.

They are popular with people on hiking trips, going around hostels, survival trips, camping and trips of that nature.

They come in an entire range of shapes and sizes too numerous to mention here which is why we would recommend reading our more detailed guide.

These days they can be fitted with different features such as wheels, laptop compartments, phone pockets and/or mesh bottle pouches. 

best backpack for air travel

In essence it depends on the type of trip which backpack you should buy. As your main luggage though we would highly recommend a good strong frame, one that buckles around the waist and padded shoulder straps.

There are also what are called anti-theft backpacks. They are slightly more expensive than the standard backpack, but many people believe that it is worth paying the extra. With these the zips are hidden, and they also have features like anti-cut boards fitted inside.

Luggage for Kids

When you take kids on holiday they want to feel a real part of it. If you look around UK airports you may have noticed that a lot of children now have their own small version of wheeled luggage.

Inside that you can store their favourite toys such as teddy bears, some sweets and a few games to keep them amused. Remember waiting times at airports can be long, especially if delayed.

Don't buy luggage that needs to be carried otherwise you will end up doing that. It id has wheels on it, then they are usually happy enough to zoom that around the place. Many parents go for the ride-on styles which are pretty cool.

best backpack for air travel

In essence it depends on the type of trip which backpack you should buy. As your main luggage though we would highly recommend a good strong frame, one that buckles around the waist and padded shoulder straps.

There are also what are called anti-theft backpacks. They are slightly more expensive than the standard backpack, but many people believe that it is worth paying the extra. With these the zips are hidden, and they also have features like anti-cut boards fitted inside.

Travel Garment Bags

Again you will see a lot of these today. These used to be exclusively used by travelling business people. However with many weddings happening abroad, these are now more popular than ever.

There are a few varieties of these for suits, dresses and other garments. You can get extra long ones that will cater for bridal wear.

They are not too expensive and they do keep your garment protected. Most of them are breathable which is important to prevent any risk of a musty smell happening. their main purpose though is to reduce the amount of creasing if the garment was simply stored inside a suitcase.


garment-bags

Business people mainly prefer to have a better made bag that will not only hold their business attire, but will also hold their laptop etc. You can get these as a carry bag or as a wheeled bag. Many of these come as designer bags for those who want to impress

Travel Accessories

There is a wide range of travel accessories available that can help make your traveling life a great deal easier. There are any number of gadgets and useful accessories when it comes to traveling. These include pillows, kettles, RFID wallets, portable luggage scales, packing cubes and more. We have listed some of the popular options just below.

Packing Cubes

These have in the last few years become a very popular choice for many travelers. They are in their simplest form a set of lightweight packing cubes that fit inside your suitcase. They are used for different purposes:

  • Some buyers use them to separate out clothes for each member of the family
  • Some use them to pack different clothes for different locations on a holiday trip
  • Some use them to separate out the different types of garments

They are a great choice for people who like to be really organised. The good news is that these are not that expensive and they do help you stay completely organised.

G4Free Packing Cubes Value Set for Travel

These serve two main purposes:

  • They keep your suitcase more secure and stop it from bursting open
  • They help to quickly identify your luggage when waiting for your bags to come off.

There are lots of these to pick from, and you can even get those personalised, for even easier identification. If you have ever stood at a baggage line and wondered if the case rolling around is really yours, then having a different type of strap on it makes your life that little bit easier.

Luggage Scales

It is always a very good idea to have a set of luggage scales, so as you can figure out the exact weight of your luggage. Many airlines are very restrictive with their weight allowances.

If you arrive at the airport with overweight bags, then the rates you are charged per Kilo over, are pretty harsh.

The prices vary from airline to airline, but expect to pay on average £12-15 for each Kilo that you are overweight.

The price shocks many people. Avoid all of that by checking at home, even with a normal set of bathroom scales.

We would recommend owning a lightweight, but tough set of luggage scales, so as you can check on both the outward journey, and the return journey. They are not expensive, accurate and can save you money and also give you some peace of mind.

FREETOO Luggage Scale Portable

RFID Wallets

These have become a very important thing for all travelers to consider. Rather than carry cash on a holiday, most travelers prefer to carry a credit card or a debit card. Scammers and fraudsters are known to try and use some form of radio frequency to scan your cards.

As a result of that RFID wallets were introduced to prevent this from happening. Many travelers are now using them to protect their cards from these despicable people.

Best RFID Wallets for Men

Pet Carriers

Although not strictly luggage there may be times when you have to bring your pet with you on a flight.

The recommended way of doing that is to use an airline approved pet carrier.

There are many different types of these and we have done a complete article on exactly what is available.

You can read that by clicking on the link below.

Petown Soft-sided Pet Carrier-pet Carriers Airline Approved with Foldable and Washable

Hopefully you have found my luggage guide very helpful. There is a lot of different bags and suitcases to pick from. The UK market is packed with many different luggage brands and types of luggage. In the main though picking the right luggage will always come down to how much you can afford to pay and how often you have to or want to travel.</p>