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March 2004
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Baggage notes

We've got quick tips on how to choose the right bags, pack sensibly, and other baggage handling advice.

hand reaching for luggage

Today's new procedures in travel, such as luggage searches and increased security mean more "baggage wrangling" for travelers than ever. You'll want luggage that's light yet sturdy, as well as easy to move and manage.

Look for luggage that's durable. Nylon fabric held up best in our tests. Wheeled carry-ons and garment bags may topple if additional luggage is strapped on, so for better stability choose a large upright bag.


Two important tips when packing are to travel light and pack smart. Choose lightweight, no-wrinkle, washable clothes, and pack travel-sized toiletries. Wear your bulkiest items when traveling and try to only take two pairs of shoes--one casual and one dressy. Avoid wearing clothes that may interfere with the metal detector. When packing a carry-on, include only personal necessities, valuables, and perishable or breakable items.


Changes in screening technology may ruin your vacation photos if you're not careful with your film. Always pack your camera or camcorder in your carry-on as well as undeveloped film, since high-dosage airport security scanners will damage undeveloped film in checked baggage.

Always carry on your laptop, and make sure you never leave it unattended. Laptops may be hand-inspected as well as x-rayed, however, airport security scanners won't harm computer hard drives or floppies.

Find out about baggage allowances, checking your luggage, and airline-baggage liability in our full report (available to subscribers).