4 Ways the Wrong Luggage Can Ruin Your Trip

Tourist with backpack walking in the mosque arch near Taj Mahal in Agra

Written by Shannon O’Donnell on

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008 and has lived everywhere from Southeast Asia to Barcelona, where she now calls home. She travels slowly and supports responsible tourism along the way, winning numerous awards for her work advocating for the communities impacted by travel and tourism.

Tourist with backpack walking in the mosque arch near Taj Mahal in Agra

A good bag can make your trip effortless, while a lousy one can absolutely ruin your day(s). The the best luggage makes your soul happy—let’s make that happen. Here’s the lowdown on common luggage complaints and solutions for the age-old question: What luggage should I get?

Any traveler worth their salt knows what a “good” bag looks and feels like:

● It’s tough (remember that one time it fell off the luggage rack of that jeep in the jungle during monsoon season?).

● If it’s wearable, it’s comfy; and it looks good.

● It represents you, whether you blinged it out with sew-on patches or a pins from every place you’ve visited.

Whatever it looks or feels like, the perfect luggage is your old faithful.

But then there’s the “bad” luggage, the kind that absolutely wrecks your trip because it is unwieldy, uncomfortable, or starts falling apart the first time you strain the zipper a bit.

Don’t buy that luggage.

Let’s take a close look at the warning signs that your luggage is—quite frankly—not up to the task keeping up with an adventurous world traveler such as yourself. I’ve been traveling the world for more than eleven years: Think of these as my hard-learned lessons on all the ways the wrong luggage can make you miserable—as well as equally hard-learned tips for choosing luggage that will make your next hundred trips a breeze.

1. If it’s Not Sturdy Enough for the Job

There is nothing—NOTHING—so frustrating as when a bag can’t stand up to its intended use. This is especially true for travelers taking long trips to somewhere far away—a leaking suitcase or backpack can be an irritant that totally fogs your awesome memories.

Your Luggage Solution: What you want is something tough, with high-impact features like puncture-resistant zippers, Bi-Tech™ Armor fabrics, oversize treaded wheels that aren’t going to go cock-eyed on you if you step off the pavement, and overall durability. Double bonus points for bags with a No Matter What™ Warranty. For epic trips where anything could happen, a great bet is the mack-daddy trunk that is the Yonder Rolling Trunk, which features ultra-durable weatherproof Tarpaulin.

2. If it’s Not the Right Size for Your Body

Travel-types come in all shapes and sizes. When I set out on my first round the world trip, I witnessed firsthand the power of a great fitting backpack. My cousin met me abroad for what an epic four months backpacking across India and Nepal. I carried my trusty 65L women’s backpack by Eagle Creek. My 5’11” cousin, however, had found a discount backpack at a local outdoors store—not only was it not contoured to her body, but it lacked adjustable suspension. Bad choice on her part. Within weeks, her shoulders were killing her and we ended up swapping packs—she used the adjustable suspension feature on my Eagle Creek backpack to make the bag fit her torso, and I slogged through our remaining weeks huffing through the mountains of Nepal with the wrong pack (oh, the things we do for family!).

Your Luggage Solution: What you need is a bag fitted to you, one that contours to your curves and leaves you effortlessly mobile and dexterous. Look for a carry-on with multiple fit options, adjustable straps, and extras like hip-belts—these features will ensure that the bag is never weighing heavy on your back and shoulders. The Expanse™ Convertible International Carry-On is both a backpack and a wheeled bag with great capacity that suits travelers of all sizes!


Older luggage has the tendency to be high on the bulk and heft, making it awkward and back-breaking to carry around. If you can’t sprint for a solid two minutes with your bag, then it’s just not up to the task of keeping up with an adventurous traveler. Travel is all about handling the unforeseen, and if your bag is too heavy (and the actual weight limit you should carry depends on your size and strength!), then you may miss a flight or bus all because you chose the wrong luggage.

Your Luggage Solution: One key advantage of choosing newer luggage is that it is designed with kinesiology in mind, so it evenly distributes weight and has cutting-edge lightweight features in the place of old-school brass corners and handles. Plus, today there are so many more size options that you can choose a bag that is exactly the right size for your needs, and not a pound more. Take a look at the Migrate Duffel, which comes in five different sizes and sexy, sexy colors, so that you have a bag precisely as big as you need, that also looks totally fly while you’re carrying it (have you seen that Sueños Andes print?!).

4. If it’s an Organizational Nightmare

Growing up, the suitcases my parents had were rectangles with one zipper and an enormous, unorganized singular compartment in which small articles sank to the bottom and got lost two seconds after you packed them. Ask backpackers using hostels about their number one pet peeve in shared dorms: Unorganized travelers rustling plastic bags in giant suitcases fit for backpacking during their parents’ era of travel. Don’t make enemies of your fellow travelers, choose a bag that makes organization a breeze.

Your Luggage Solution: You need not worry anymore about disorganization with a weekend bag that provides ample storage, including easily-accessible zippies for your 3-1-1 containers and earbuds, as well as multiple pockets (pockets are a must in any great bag!), and the capacity to Add-a-Bag to easily stash even more treasures. Organizing is made even easier with packing cubes that help you compartmentalize shoes, a clean/dirty cube, and multiple graduated storage sacs for your underwear, socks, and electronics.

A great bag with the right features can make or break your trip: Explore the possibilities now.

Related Links:

Infographic: Why a Life of Travel is Worth the Price

Here’s How to Pack an Organized Duffel Bag

How to Pack for 2 Weeks in a Carry-On