High-quality luggage certainly helps make packing and traveling easier. But to be sure your equipment can withstand the wear and tear of luggage corrals, bumpy streets and crushing trunk space, check for these signs of quality materials and construction:
- An inner-frame made of lightweight fiberglass, aluminum or molded plastic. Read the luggage tag, which should list the frame materials.
- Ballistic nylon, or for a less expensive alternative, Cordura nylon. Steer clear of tweed or brocade fabrics; they look good but aren't durable and can be slashed by sharp objects. Most nylons will be waterproofed; the label should indicate this. Solid (or full-grain) leather that is made of one continuous piece of animal hide is durable, but too heavy for convenient hoisting.
- Sturdy zippers and seams. Zippers should have large, hefty pulls and a layer of reinforced cloth that connects the zipper to the bag. Seams on the outside of the luggage should be covered in nylon piping or an extra layer of material to help them stand up to additional wear and tear [sources: Fodor, Steele].
Once you have the proper gear, consider your packing techniques. Even if you're able to fold T-shirts like a mall employee at closing time, this skill just doesn't translate when it comes to suitcases.
One space-saving technique is to roll your clothing. Either roll individual garments or, to help prevent wrinkles, create a giant jellyroll by rolling them up together. To do this, place the items most likely to crease on the floor or another large, flat surface -- think dress shirts and blouses. Top them with cardigans and T-shirts, smoothing wrinkles and folding the sleeves toward the center of the garment as you go. Lastly, fold pants lengthwise so the legs are atop one another, then fold them again to resemble a rectangular shape. Place the cuff of the jeans atop the hem of the shirts and start rolling as tightly as you can. Just be sure your suitcase is nearby (and open) so you can place the rolled up bundle inside [source: Klurman].
Next, add your shoes to the suitcase and place your undergarments in lingerie bags packed into the nooks and crannies of your suitcase, along with extras, like a travel umbrella.
If you're traveling by air, remember to wear your largest pair of slip-on shoes to the airport. This way, they won't take up valuable suitcase room.