For many of us, travel abroad has been on the cards for the first time in two years. But recent holidaymakers have had to battle long security wait times, flight delays and cancellations due to staff shortages (with over 3,300 flights cancelled across 26 major UK airports in recent months), and some airlines are even reporting there’s no food on board flights due to supply issues. Gone are the days of glamourous and easy travel where you can swan into a cosy airport lounge and enjoy a few cocktails pre-flight, yet despite these recent challenges, Brits still cannot wait to jet set away to glamourous locations.
In 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), only 1 million people in the UK were going abroad which was 95% fewer people than pre-Covid travel numbers in the same quarter. In March 2022, passenger traffic was up by 76% compared to the previous March, which was 41% down from the pre-pandemic levels but these passenger levels are steadily rising. We may not be quite at pre-pandemic levels, but many of us look forward to getting our bags packed and stepping on a plane for the first time in a while.
However, you may find that baggage restrictions may have changed since the last time you got away as many cabin bag sizes have shrunk, which means you may need to jump through yet more hoops and may, ultimately, need to replace your past go-to luggage. Here are some luggage ideas that won’t break the bank.
What am I allowed to bring on board?
As many of you will know, most airlines restrict you to one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal item. Personal items include handbags, briefcases, laptops, and small backpacks. You can also bring on board a coat, something to read, a small bag of food, and mobility devices like wheelchairs and walkers.
However, always check with your airline because budget airlines like Ryanair (based in Dublin), Easyjet (based in Switzerland), and Wizz Air (a Hungarian low-cost carrier) restrict you to the personal item only included in the price of your flight and an additional carry on item costs extra. Norwegian airlines also charge extra for carry-on bags. If you’re jet-setting across the US, American internal flight companies that also charge extra for carry-ons are Allegiant, JetBlue (Blue basic fares), United (basic economy fares), Frontier, and Spirit. These bag prices range from $10-$75 extra, so you’ll need to budget accordingly, and JetBlue and United do not allow add-on baggage on basic fares. Often, these budget airlines do not allow large personal items or the larger size carry-on suitcases, so if you’re planning a budget flight, be sure to grab your tape measure before flying and ensure you’ve paid any extra carry-on fees or you’ll be charged a small fortune at the check-in desk.
What size should my carry-on bag be?
Across all airlines, we have found that you will be safe on most airlines if your carry-on is no bigger than 55 x 35 x 25 centimetres (21.5 x 13.75 x 9.75 inches). Some airlines do allow bags with larger dimensions but even some of the most common carriers do not allow larger carry-ons anymore. Also, to be safe, you’ll want to pack no more than 7 kg (or 15 lbs) in your carry-on luggage.
For example, Jet2 allows some of the largest carry-on bags where you can pack up to 10 kg in your case with the dimensions of 56 x 45 x 25 centimetres; however, another popular holiday provider, TUI, allows the same 10 kg but the dimensions of the bag must be no more than 55 x 40 x 20 centimetres.
What size should my hold or checked luggage be?
The most common hold or checked bag size is around 78 x 48 x 26 centimetres, give or take a few centimetres, and with up to 23 kg (or around 50 lbs) in weight with the option of purchasing extra weight in 3 kg units up to a maximum of 32 kg per bag (around 70 lbs). However, some airlines have reduced these numbers. For example, popular holiday package retailer TUI allows only 15 kg of luggage (33 lbs) in each hold bag with some holidays allowing up to 20 kg of weight (44 lbs) but you can buy an additional allowance. As you can see, that allowance is a lot less than the usual 23 kg allowance. Jet2, on the other hand, allows you to book up to three pieces of luggage per person (for extra fees, of course) but with no piece of luggage weighing more than 22 kg per bag (48 lbs).
Top tip: be sure to check your airline’s weight allowance and baggage dimensions!
All this is to say that to be safe, you’ll want your hold bag dimensions to be on the smaller size and you’ll want to check your airline’s specified suitcase dimensions for both carry-on and hold items and specified weight allowance. Some airlines only specify a weight allowance for hold luggage which means you can travel with any sized suitcase but others have recently shrunk their allowed size.
For example, I recently bought my husband a bright, new suitcase set from IT luggage that was hard-cased and in red. I thought it would be easily visible and my husband would fit all of his items as he is a notorious over-packer (he packs about three outfits per day and also for every eventuality), and that he would relish a new set. Who doesn’t like new things? However, when I got it home, my husband checked the allowed dimensions on our airline for our recent holiday to Kos in Greece and it was about 2 cm too large, so we had to return it, which was rather sad! So, I know from personal experience that you want to check your airline and grab the tape measure and ensure your current luggage still fits.
Budget-friendly luggage ideas
There are many retailers that you would think of when you’re in the market for luggage and maybe some you wouldn’t.
These retailers offer luggage at reasonable prices. Have a look.
- Matalan: Matalan offers IT Luggage in various matching sets ranging in price from £40 to £70 per suitcase. IT luggage is often lightweight and comes with a 10-year warranty. After recent travel, it also seems to be the most popular luggage of choice with many passengers having these luggage sets, but thankfully in different colours and styles.
- Argos: Argos offers various brands of luggage including IT Luggage, Featherstone, American Tourister (Samsonite’s sub-brand), and others. Their products range in price from £25 to £80 per suitcase.
- The Range: The Range offers holdalls for around £15. The brands they carry include JCB, Constellation, Swift, Aerolite, Rock, and others. Their carry-on luggage starts around the £35 price point, so it makes this retailer on the economy end like Argos. The individual suitcases go up to the £50 mark and you can even buy a two-piece luggage Astro Luggage Nesting set for £90.
- Luggage Superstore: The Luggage Superstore, as the name suggests, can meet all your luggage needs! It has hard and soft luggage at various price points and carries a range of brands like Bric’s, Caribee, Dakne, Horizn Studios, IT Luggage, Tuscany Leather, Samsonite, Ted Baker, Victorinox, Delsey Paris, and many others. If you want something unique, this is the place to go. The prices range from £20 for holdalls to around £40-50+ for carry-ons up to £1,200 for luxury leather three-piece sets. They also have everything you’d need for packing including packing cubes, travel adapters, travel pillows, and more.
- House of Fraser: Another retailer that might not be your go-to for luggage is House of Fraser. They offer luggage from £30 to £620 and boast a large selection of brands.
- Sports Direct: This retailer (the owners of House of Fraser) offers children’s luggage and regular luggage at various price points from £30 to £200.
- TK Maxx: TK Maxx has various luggage sets that range in price. Plus, they offer a wide variety of brands including IT Luggage, Steve Madden, Beagles, Qubed, Dune, Bon Goût, Rock, Portland, and others. The prices range from £35 to £90. You can even get Nickelodeon-era slime lime green from Portland! You definitely won’t miss this suitcase on the carousel!
- M&S: M&S offers various luggage options including stylish weekend bags in brands such as Porto, M&S Heritage collection, M&S ultralight collection, and more. Their prices range from £45 to £250 per bag but they also have three-piece luggage collections like this Jasper set of three soft suitcases for £175.
- John Lewis: John Lewis has various choices from their own brand products to American Tourister, Briggs & Riley, Delsey, Eastpak, Joules, Mulberry, Samsonite, Sara Miller, Ted Baker, Thule, TUMI, and more. So, if you want a more designer flair, this is the retailer for you! The prices start at around £39 and range up to a whopping £1,195 for high-end TUMI luggage.
These retailers offer many brands of suitcases. The choices are endless and you can get a variety of price points, styles, and sizes. Just be sure to check what your specific airline requires.
One little tip that can help with packing more in your case is using packing cubes like these ones from Robert Dyas. Packing cubes allow you to organise your suitcase items and maximise your packing area. And don’t forget to complete your Tria 4X hair removal cycle before you go away and before you apply your self-tanner!
Are you off somewhere exotic with brand new luggage or are you sticking to your old favourites? Let us know on our social media what your favourite luggage brands are and if you’re off to anywhere nice this summer!