How to Choose the Right Suitcase for Your Trip

choosing a suitcase

Whether you’re traveling for the first time or simply need a new piece of luggage, choosing the right suitcase can be a little overwhelming. Our Philadelphia Airport parking members have a few suggestions for you:


Size is an important thing to consider when choosing your luggage. While a big suitcase may fit all of your belongings, it may be difficult to carry or may end up weighing too much when it’s filled. Choose a piece of luggage that’s good for your height (including the handle). You also want to consider if you’re going to be checking your suitcase or carrying it on. This can determine what size you buy.

To give you a better idea, here are average airline size regulations (by height):

  • International Carry-On: 18″-20″
  • Domestic Carry-On: 21″-22″
  • Medium Checked: 23″-24″
  • Large Checked: 25″-27″
  • Extra-Large Checked: 28″-32″

For many airlines, the larger the checked bag, the more money it will cost to fly with you, so keep that in mind.


These days, you can find plenty of luggage with helpful features such as a waterproof exterior or interior, wheels, a piggy-back clip (which allows you to clip a smaller suitcase on), zippered expandable areas, a telescoping handle, tie-down straps (for keeping your belongings in place), and more. Before you choose a suitcase, determine what features you want to have.

In addition, we recommend choosing a suitcase with a unique pattern or color. This makes it easier to spot in baggage claim and reduces your chance of someone else grabbing your bag by mistake.


While it’s easy enough to buy a small padlock and key and lock your zipper pulls together, it’s actually quite simple to break into a zippered bag with this kind of lock. If you’re traveling internationally or you just want to keep your belongings safe, look for a suitcase that is either zipper-free or has a built-in TSA-approved lock.

Hard vs. Soft

These days, there are both hard-shell suitcases and soft-shell suitcases available for travel. Hard suitcases are often made of a lightweight material that not only makes them easier to transport, but can also help you meet checked luggage weight requirements. They also help protect your belongings and can come in handy if you’re transporting fragile items. However, hard suitcases don’t mold as easily and may be difficult to fit into overhead compartments. If you’re looking for a suitcase for carry-on purposes, you may want to stick with a soft fabric one.