Eight tips to choosing smarter luggage

Flight passengers wait during a warning strike at the airport in Hamburg, northern Germany, on April 22, 2013. German airline Lufthansa said it has cancelled most of its domestic, European and long-haul flights at six German airports due to strike action by ground personnel and some cabin crew.     AFP PHOTO / MALTE CHRISTIANS / GERMANY OUT

Luggage is such a vital aspect of travel, and yet too many travellers leave it until the last minute to organise what they will transport their belongings in.

But how you take your belongings with you, knowing the rules at airports and understanding the role of airlines with regards to your luggage can be the difference between a stress-free holiday and an emotional one fraught with security problems.

Paklite’s brand manager Anton Botha says many Aussies aren’t travelling ‘smart’ because of the last minute thoughts on luggage.

“Travellers need to research luggage options, weight allowances and security requirements to ensure their trip is as stress-free as possible, leaving more time for the important things – relaxation and adventure,” Botha said.

In the interest of smarter travelling, Paklite has come up with eight travel tips to ensure your luggage doesn’t become unwanted baggage on your upcoming holidays.

Choose vibrant colours

“Despite the options available on the market, the majority of Australians travel with black luggage,” Botha explains, citing this is as the reason many travellers struggle to identify their bags in a crowd or on an airport carousel.

The longer your case sits on that carousel, the more likely it is that someone else has taken off with it, with Botha suggesting brightly coloured luggage to deter thieves, as they are less likely to steal an item that attracts attention.

Don’t check in your valuables

If you can’t live without it, pack it in your cabin luggage, especially when it comes to personal information.

Any information that identifies you and reveals your hotel or contact details should be carried in cabin bags only. If your luggage does get into the wrong hands, thieves cannot track you or steal your identity.

Your name and flight number on your luggage tags will be sufficient for airline crew to track you down if you and your luggage are separated.

Choose a case with TSA security locks

TSA locks meet the high standards of the US Transportation Security Administration. These locks enable security staff to access your luggage for inspection, as airline security at all US and UK airports hold a universal key.

Security staff have the right to break non-TSA locks if inspection is required, often rendering the luggage defective.

Make claims against damage within 24 hours

Most travellers don’t realise they may be able to make claims against luggage damaged in transit with their airline – even without having travel insurance.

“Be sure to make the claim immediately. The airline is less likely to resolve the issue if you’ve waited more than 24 hours or have already left the airport,” Botha said.

Research costs for large check-in items

Check that your airline allows you to check in prams, surfboards and other large accessories free of charge. Some airlines do charge a fee, but even if they don’t, make sure they’re not charging you more elsewhere – such as in the overweight baggage fee.

Check luggage weight limits and costs

It’s easy to get caught out and pay unexpected fees for overweight bags. For long-haul travel, be sure to check weight allowances and costs across all your interconnecting flights, as limits vary between airlines.

“Children are often given the same weight allowance as adults – take advantage of this and store any excess items in their luggage, if needed,” Botha said.

Pack priority items close by

To save time checking-in, ensure all electronics are placed at the top of your luggage as these must be removed before passing through customs.

It’s also a good idea to keep any documents you need at the top of your bag, as well as necessary items for your destination such as a raincoat or jacket.

Tailor your luggage to your destination

Hard cases are the most stylish and durable option, ideal for air travel. They keep belongings safe when being thrown around in aircrafts, and will still look the part at a five-star resort.

However if its train travel, buses, or lots of narrow spaces you’re trekking through, soft cases can be a bit more forgiving.

An example is Paklite’s Flightweight range, which can fold completely flat for ease of storage. If you are keeping your luggage with you most of the time – such as when backpacking or during adventure travel – duffels and backpacks are the most comfortable option.

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