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What Are Different Types of Suitcases?

Suitcases come in a multitude of colors, weights and sizes.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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There are many different types of suitcases to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. Not only can one choose different types, but one also can determine whether the structure is hard, soft, or semi-soft.

Large suitcases, sometimes also called Pullmans, are of three varieties, and can range in size from 2 to 3 feet (0.60 - 0.91 m) per side. They are often equipped with wheels. Large, hard-sided ones are the heaviest, but also provide the most protection for breakable items one might need to transport.

Soft suitcases offer more flexibility for stuffing it a bit beyond capacity. Semi-soft large ones tend to offer a little more flexibility than hard suitcases, and a little more protection for delicate items. In most cases, large suitcases cannot be carried onto a plane and must be checked.

Generally, one does not pack suits in suitcases, or dresses that are likely to wrinkle. Instead one would use garment bags, which usually come with a hanger and can be easily hung as needed. They also may need to be checked, depending upon size, and don't always work as carry-ons.

Carry-on suitcases are often ideal for a couple days of travel. These are usually soft or semi-soft. They almost always have wheels and measure less than 22 inches (55.88 cm) in length. One may want to check airline requirements, because an overstuffed carry-on bag may actually be too large for overhead storage as a carry-on bag.

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Business cases often hold items like laptops, legal files, or memos. These types may have zippers or may more resemble a briefcase. Just in case one must check a business case, be certain that zippers or locks can secure any items inside the case.

Duffel bags are suitcases that come in a variety of sizes. They tend not to have wheels and are usually soft. These may actually be ideal for wrinkle-proof clothing and for kids’ clothes. Smaller duffel bags can usually be used as carry-on luggage.

In place of suitcases, one might instead choose a backpack for short trips, or a tote bag. Backpacks and tote bags are usually carry-on items, unless one has an exceptionally large backpack. Tote bags may not have zippers, so one should not carry items that require secure placement.

Consumer advocates suggest that one not spend a lot of money on luggage, especially when it must be checked. Very expensive, designer suitcases are a beacon for those who might potentially steal items from them. Travel worn or inexpensive ones are considered less apt to tempt those with light fingers. However, regardless of expense, all bags should be in good repair prior to traveling.

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