Here’s (Almost) Everything You Need To Know About Luggage (Updated 2021)
Did you know that the English language is so complex and I just recently found out that I can never say “luggages” because I would be committing murder to the non-count nouns? Yes, you heard that right. Somehow it feels like wearing low-rise jeans in 2020 and you’re getting called out for bringing back a trend that should strictly stay in the past.
Luggage is considered both singular and plural and there are only rare instances where adding a shapeshifting tool -s to non-count nouns can be considered proper. If you want to indicate plurality, it’s best to use synonymous words e.g. “suitcases” or “bags”. Another option is to define it with words such as “piece” or “set” i.e. “pieces of luggage” or “a luggage set”.
This is a big-brain trivia no one would actually bother knowing but here it is. Nevertheless, it’s still good for an ice breaker or when you’re just competitively spewing out random facts.
Table of Contents
Unpacking #1: Luggage vs. Baggage – Are they one and the same? Let’s settle the debate.
Continuing on the narrative (or should I just say complaints) of the complexity of the English language, here’s one to seal the deal: Are luggage and baggage synonymous?
Technically on some nuances, they are not synonyms rather they are called near-perfect synonyms— that is, baggage has additional meanings which luggage does not share. This is a rare occurrence in the English language which has always leaned on distinction and difference over sameness and redundancy.
Luggage and baggage both share the suffix -age which is derived from the French language meaning “action, process, result of”.
Baggage is a much older word that originated in the 1400s which originally came from English and then borrowed into French then back to English. Though there are no written records to establish its official origin, it’s commonly associated with the word bag which means “a sack to carry things in”. It’s originally used in the military context.
On the other hand, luggage comes from the word lug which means “carry laboriously” in the Middle English language from a Scandinavian word which means “to pull by the hair”. It shares the same military usage as to how Shakespeare utilized it in his works in Henry IV and Henry V.
But here is where the difference lies: baggage can also be connected to the middle French word bagasse meaning “contemptible woman or prostitute”. In the works of Shakespeare, he also uses the same references in The Taming of the Shrew and My Fair Lady.
Aside from that, baggage is also used in intangible things like “emotional baggage” or “political baggage” whereas luggage is never used in that context. We never really say “emotional luggage” because that just sounds awkward.
So what really is a luggage by definition?
According to the dictionary, luggage is defined as cases, suitcases, trunks that contain a traveler’s personal belongings for his/her journey.
It is interchangeably used with the word baggage even in airports and it’s more of a location context. American English speakers use baggage and associate it with suitcases with content while luggage are empty suitcases. Luggage is more commonly used in British English.
Unpacking #2: Different Types of Luggage
A bit of a history slice, luggage was used primarily for food and supply storage during travel. In the 19th century, it was referred to as trunks, the heavy steamer, and sturdy types, as travel during that time was in the form of steamships and stagecoaches.
Moving forward to the 20th century, commercial flights became popular and luggage was called suitcase – a case packed with a suit. In the 20th century, the wheeled luggage was introduced but not everyone was excited about this practical innovation.
Men who were seen carrying these were often labeled as “sissies” or “women”. By 2000, the lightweight luggage was introduced to the market – a luggage made out of polycarbonate which usually weighed just around 6 to 8 pounds – designed for extra ease in transport.
Here are the 4 most common types of luggage:
A wheeled luggage by design is used primarily by traditional travelers – those who rake in-flight miles, and either travel due to personal reasons or business trips.
They are capable of withstanding any type of luggage transport system especially rough ones because we have to admit it: some don’t just bother caring for our belongings especially in airports.
The wheels on a luggage or suitcase are credited to Robert Plath in 1987. A Northwest Airlines 747 pilot and tinkerer, Plath reinvented the suitcase by affixing two wheels and a long handle which rolled the suitcase upright.
This practical innovation has made wheeled luggage a convenient and easy way to store and transport your belongings from one point to another.
It comes in different sizes but as a general rule, a luggage ranges from 18 to 32 inches high with internal storage roughly around 36 liters to 103 liters. This range enables luggage to either be checked in or stored in the overhead cabin on the plane.
They are usually made out of weatherproof and PVC-free materials which make the bag sturdy and at the same time easy to clean inside out. Nowadays, companies are further innovating in terms of materials and are constantly reinventing luggage to suit the needs and preferences of their consumers.
For the features, a luggage is generally a big storage space which provides mesh compartments for smaller items and are not really equipped with higher organization features.
There are two main types of wheeled luggage based on material:
1. Hard side luggage
This is highly recommended with travelers who have sensitive items that would need extra shield or protection. This extra layer of protection is the champion feature of hard side luggage and what most consumers really come after.
There are different materials or fabrications for hard side luggage:
100% Polycarbonate – As mentioned earlier, lightweight luggage is made of polycarbonate material which is also very durable owing to its high degree of hardness and impact resistance, flexible, and resilient. The good thing about polycarbonate materials is that scratches (which are inevitable during travels) can be easily camouflaged into the suitcase preventing it from ruining your luggage aesthetic.
Polycarbonate composite – If you’re looking for polycarbonate material but do not have the budget for it, a blend like a polycarbonate composite can do the job while staying under budget. Note though that since it’s a blend, durability in terms of scratches and cracks may not be as high performance compared to 100% polycarbonate.
ABS or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – As the name says, ABS is a blend of three different plastics which makes it a strong candidate for luggage material. Acrylonitrile provides chemical and fatigue resistance as well as melt strength and hardness. Butadiene serves for good impact resistance while styrene is for heat resistance, processability, and color. Together, these three make a luggage impact resistance, easier processing in terms of shaping, high heat distortion temperature, and gloss property.
2. Soft side luggage
Though soft side luggage does not provide that extra layer of protection, it compensates on its expandability which most consumers love about it.
Since it’s a soft material, they’re also easier stacked and it goes great with packing irregularly shaped items. Also it offers exterior compartments which can be used to stash away any last-minute item.
Here are the two best materials when it comes to soft side luggage:
Nylon – Nylon leans more on the expensive side but is highly recommended for soft side luggage for its high durability and abrasion-resistant finish. There are different types of nylon-like Cordura nylon and ballistic nylon which both rank higher than usual nylon in terms of durability but offsets in weight since with its durability comes a heavier weight and also a hefty price tag.
Polyester – This material is definitely cheaper than nylon and lighter as well though durability wise, it does not perform as well as nylon. But this can be compensated in denier. The more deniers, the more durable the material is so for polyester luggage, it is recommended to get at least 800D to compete with nylon’s durability.
There is also another innovation in the wheeled luggage which is the Roller Spinner. Instead of the usual two-wheeled luggage, the roller spinner is equipped with 4 wheels designed to rotate in 360 degrees and to achieve a smooth glide which adds to the comfort and ease of transport. But with every innovation comes sort of a caveat.
This amazing glider can be less durable in rough terrain than your usual luggage and is also more prone to damage than their two-wheeled counterpart. Also, its wheels stick out so you would be losing a bit in packing size.
If you’re looking for top tier convenience, then carry-on luggage is your best and smartest option. It’s designed to fit the airline’s overhead cabin size which is usually 22” x 14” x 9” at the largest though airline sizes can be quite different.
It’s best for light packers and mobile individuals and who are saving up by not paying for the check-in baggage fee.
These usually range from 18 inches high to 22 inches high with 30 to 100-liter capacities. They can be your best partner whether for just a short weekend trip or a week-long vacation. Usually made with a polyester-nylon combination or hard shell ABS, carry-ons are a very durable type of luggage.
Innovations in design have also put them at the forefront of luggage choice with heavy-duty wheels, internal storage pockets for small items that need to be secured, external compartments for easy access items, and compression straps to secure your items inside.
The wheeled backpack is designed for the adventurous travelers who need a combination of convenience of a wheeled bag for ease of transport and with the functionality of a backpack that you can easily throw over your shoulders for hikes.
The backpack option also provides another way of carrying the luggage which makes it a versatile piece.
As a backpack, some may doubt its storage capacity compared to the previously mentioned types of luggage but that is definitely not the case. They’re usually 17 to 21 inches in height and a storage capacity of 40 to 42 inches which can hold a lot of items.
It’s equipped with more or less the same features as your carry-ons which are more reasonably priced than traditional wheeled luggage or carry-on. That is considering that it adds more convenience with the same features and quality.
It’s also very sturdy and reliable made from materials like polyester and nylon which as mentioned before are very good materials for luggage. Since these are made for adventures, you are assured of the quality and security of this type of bag.
Duffels are weekender bags meaning they’re your perfect partners for a short weekend trip and have a room for extra days. It’s lightweight with one large opening sealed with heavy-duty zippers and strong straps so that it would be easier to carry around (but there are wheeled duffel designs in the market as well which provides extra carrying options).
Aside from that, they are also usually equipped with a large main compartment and smaller mesh compartments for organization.
Economically, duffels are your best options because it’s definitely cheaper than most luggage with the same carrying capacity. They are also available in many different designs and colors which you can choose from so you can go from the basic black or neutral colors to more bold ones or something that looks high fashion to travel in style.
But what makes duffel a good choice among its type competitors is that it’s easy to store since it has no rigid side. Moreover, some duffels come in a foldability feature which has been very popular among consumers.
If you’re looking to explore more on duffels, you can read more on our weekender bags.
Unpacking #3: How to Maintain Your Luggage
As in most aspects of our lives, we’ve always been adept in researching the best features of items, what to look out for, and everything that happens before and during buying a product. But what we always fail to do so is proper maintenance or the process after purchasing and using the item.
Luggage are expensive items and we wouldn’t really recommend putting the price before quality when choosing one. The durability of the material is one factor to make luggage last a lifetime of travels but proper care and maintenance also play a big role here.
Here are some tips you can do to ensure that your luggage is always in top shape to deliver the best travel experience for you.
Pack properly. This is one of the most underrated forms of luggage maintenance basically because we depend too much that the material can hold the capacity and it’s durable enough to resist wear and tear. As much as packing properly can make your life easier in terms of efficiency and organization, it also helps extend the life of your luggage. As much as possible, make sure that you don’t fill it up to the brim and cram all of your belongings inside. Save enough room when traveling so that in case you would want to bring home some souvenirs you wouldn’t need to aggressively fit them inside the luggage.
If you’re sitting on your luggage to bring it to a close, you haven’t really packed properly.
Make sure to safely package all sharp objects to prevent them from damaging the interior of the luggage.
The same goes to any liquid that may leak, package them properly to avoid damaging the luggage, and ruining your outfit. The cover is usually waterproof but the inside is not.
Clean your luggage. Especially during this pandemic, extra safety measures wouldn’t hurt and it will also extend your luggage life. Also, making a habit of cleaning your luggage will make it look new despite serving you for years in travel!
For the interior, you can easily clean it with the use of a vacuum to suck out any dust and dirt that has accumulated inside the luggage. You can also try taking out detachable parts of the interior and wash them separately either by hand or machine – but before you do, check the label. For polycarbonate surfaces, you can clean them with a wet cloth and soap. Let it air dry after cleaning.
For the exterior, cleaning can be quite more complicated which is why it’s best to read the luggage guide or manual. But you can try these generic tips for your next cleaning session. For hard side polycarbonate surfaces, clean it with a damp cloth dipped in diluted gentle dishwashing soap. Any extra stains that cannot be easily removed by wiping can be scrubbed off using a toothbrush. Aluminum cases which are the most expensive ones can be cleaned with warm water and store-bought metal polishes. For soft side luggage made out of nylon, a regular vacuum with a brush attachment is already good since the only issue with this type of material is dust.
Store them properly. You might be exhausted after a trip and after unpacking your things, you simply stow them away in the storage under the stairs or in a cupboard. But try to make a conscious effort to not do these things. Instead, after unpacking, make sure you properly and securely zip your luggage to prevent insects from damaging the inside of the luggage. Then store it in a cool dry place away from sunlight to keep the color as vibrant as possible.
Use your warranty. Good and reliable companies manufacture durable luggage equipped with a lifetime warranty or at least a 10-year warranty. Make sure you know what damages are covered by the warranty before trying to repair your luggage.