Selecting Luggage – Having appropriate luggage can make a world of difference. It may mean the difference between carry-on and stowed (which may mean the difference between lost and not lost!), health or a hurting back, and damaged vs. undamaged belongings.
Note: This section assumes that you are packing for a plane flight; travelling by train, bus, or car may be slightly different.
Garment Bags – Garment bags can be exceptionally nice for short business trips. Most airplanes have little compartments with a bar that you can hang them on. Be advised, however, that those compartments fill up pretty quickly, and you may have to jam it into an overhead bin, wrinkling your suits and dresses.
However, garment bags are not particularly easy to carry if very full or for a great distance.
Wheeled Luggage – If you must take heavy items (like, for example, six computer manuals and a replacement power supply), seriously consider some sort of wheeled contraption. One can purchase carts that can fold up and go inside the suitcase or suitcases that have wheels and a handle built in.
Suitcases with stiff, center-mounted racks are much more manageable than suitcases with “leashes”. The leashed suitcases have a tendency to wobble, tip, get stuck, fall over, etc. The leash is always too short for your height, so you end up walking hunched over anyways. Leashed luggage is exceptionally ill-suited for those lovely, picturesque cobbled streets that your charming little pensione with no elevator is on.
A good, hard-sided suitcase with a rack can be a bit pricey. However, consider that this is much, much cheaper than back surgery.
Cheap Luggage – On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should remember that it is not mandatory to purchase a special valise for carry-on items. A few sturdy garbage bags can work just fine.
You can also put things in boxes. Be sure to wrap them extremely securely with glass-reinforced tape, and recognize that they will get very rough handling. Furthermore, the airlines will not take responsibility for damaging anything in a cardboard box. You take your chances.
Duffle Bags – For long-term, low-end travels, your personal luggage of choice is an old, beat up, blue nylon duffle bag. It is large enough to take a week’s worth of clothes (if you are not too fussy) and small enough that you can’t fill it fuller than you can easily carry. It fits in the overhead compartment and it weighs practically nothing.
Furthermore, it does not scream “Wealthy Tourist!!”; you could just be returning from figure-skating practice or something like that.
Backpacks and Camping Gear – You can ship camping-style backpacks as well. Some airlines will put them in large plastic bags to help keep things from tearing off. Otherwise, make sure that anything that you have attached to the pack (sleeping bag, tent, roll) is securely fastened. And, as with packing in cardboard boxes, airlines will not take responsibility for damaging anything in a backpack. Do not pack the good china in the backpack.