Have you recently switched jobs to one that requires you to travel on occasion? When I made the decision to move to a more travel-friendly career, the idea of packing a week’s worth of clothes and supplies and heading out on the road came into play. Unfortunately, I didn’t own any luggage outside of a few very budget pieces that are all right, but nothing you could easily move from place to place or use to keep a decent amount of gear. Facing my first real business trip, I knew that I needed to get a decent bag that was capable of holding my clothes and electronics without requiring me to check the bag at the airport.
Unfortunately, bags made for travel can be extremely expensive. Prices for a decent carry-on bag can range from around $50 to well over $500, depending on the brand and features. If you’re really looking for the best of the best, you might find yourself dropping an amount that reaches into the four digits.
So, how do you find a good bag on a budget? Here are a few tips.
Avoid Pricey Brands
Having a brand or a logo on anything that has an inherent function or purpose is useless. Let’s be honest: the only people who care about the brand of your bag are the same people you really don’t want to work with or befriend in the first place. Stick to the simple rule of function over form. The material, capacity, protective elements, and modular extras are far more important than a brand name. Bottom line: you are wasting your money if you check the tag for anything other than specifications or price.
This rule doesn’t always apply. For example, if a certain brand plays to your particular tastes in terms of features and function, then that is a different scenario altogether. LockerGnome’s Jake Ludington likes Tom Bihn bags because they each share a particular set of useful features. Some may prefer mil spec gear for its durability and modular features. Pouches can be readily added and removed from mil spec bags, allowing a single bag to work in multiple situations. This is a matter of personal taste and needs, and not a case of chasing a name brand that doesn’t actually bring anything useful or unique to the table that you can’t find in an off-brand product.
Thrift stores are a great place to find quality luggage. You can normally find luggage along the wall of a thrift store, and you might be surprised at how often you can pick up a complete set for pennies on the dollar. Luggage is one of those items that is either used until it falls apart or is rarely used by its owner. Families donate luggage all the time when they find a new set or no longer have a use for them. Their loss could be your gain; just make sure to check each bag carefully before bringing it to the register.
When it comes to second-hand products, few are as functionally reliable as a good piece of luggage. If a bag is built to last, it will last, no matter who is using it. Also, if you want to chase a name brand, you’re likely to find a great deal here.
Are you in a situation where you know you need to travel, but aren’t certain you’ll be doing it very often? There’s a good chance you have a family member or friend that has a set sitting in their closet, collecting dust. Luggage is one of those things that a lot of people have, but not everyone needs. A friend or family member will likely be willing to let you borrow theirs during a rare trip of your own. If anything, it gives them a chance to clean out that closet of theirs and discover a pair of 20-year-old shoes in which they suddenly have a renewed interest. Hooray!
Luggage is sold at a premium during the travel season. Summer and holidays are big when it comes to selling travel gear. Consider holding off on your purchase until the off seasons. Stores will often mark down luggage in order to make room in their inventory for the next year’s stock.
Big sales holidays such as Black Friday and Labor Day are also great times to find good deals on the bags you need.
Have you considered signing up for coupon services such as Groupon? You might be surprised by a really good deal on a set of luggage from a store near you. You can also check your local newspaper for coupons that offer a percentage off of your next purchase. This would be a great opportunity to buy something big, like a piece (or set) of luggage.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to find a better deal on the bag (or bags) you’re looking for. Luggage is an important consideration when leaving the comfort of your home for business, pleasure, or a mix of the two. It’s important that you maximize on functionality while keeping aesthetics in mind.
Those are my tips; what are yours?