There's a confusing variety of luggage on the market, coming in all different shapes and sizes. Furthermore, it might be hard to visualize the luggage's size while shopping online. Hence, it's not surprising that a question we get really often from friends and customers looking to purchase a new luggage is "What is the size of luggage I should get?" or "What is the most appropriate luggage size for my trip?".
To be honest, this is a really difficult question to answer because it's dependent on so many factors, from the travel destination to an individual's travel style. More often than not, the best answer is "It depends!".
Nevertheless, let's talk about 3 considerations to help you decide amongst the 3 most common luggage sizes: 20" (carry on / cabin size), 24" (check-in size) and 28" (check-in size). These dimensions in inches generally refers to the height of the luggage.
1. Travel destination and duration
The type and amount of clothes you bring is mostly dependent on the number of days of you are travelling for, and the season of the destination country. You could probably get by with a 20" cabin luggage on a short weekend getaway to a summery beach, but an extended 2-week trip to Finland over Christmas would require something way bigger - even though we've heard of amazing business people who live out their globetrotting lives on 18" suitcases everywhere (here are some tips!). For regular folks like us, a 28" luggage will comfortably fit a week's worth of clothing and 3-4 sweaters and scarves, and a pair of boots for one person on a Winter holiday. A 24" luggage could work as well, if you don't intend to do much shopping and don't mind doing laundry along the way!
For travellers on budget airlines for a long weekend vacation, 20 inch carry-on luggage is perfect, just keep in mind the 7 kg carry-on limit!
For spring/summer holidays or to tropical regions like Southeast Asia, 24 inch is a good size for a week of travel.
For longer holidays, especially to the Americas or Europe, we recommend 28" (it would be a waste not to visit the Premium Outlets!).
2. Airlines baggage allowance and regulations
If you are planning to bring your luggage onboard, a 20" luggage is probably the maximum allowable on most airlines. Anything bigger will have to be checked in. Do note that there are weight limits as well. These regulations vary by airline and flight routes, and are subject to changes. Wikipedia has a well-summarised table of different airline baggage regulations for quick reference. However, make sure you check the relevant airline's regulations for the most accurate information prior to purchase and travel!
3. Storage space at home
This is probably the most obscure consideration when you are busy planning for a trip! However, as most of us might have experienced before, the unpacking is always more dreadful than the packing - especially when you can't find sufficient space to store your luggage in. Here, we find that stacking is the key! Luggage that comes in a set is designed to be nestled together just like Russian dolls (i.e. 20" fitting into 24" fitting into 28"), so the overall space taken is essentially the size of the biggest piece. You could do that with luggage of different designs too, as long as you check each dimension (LxWxH) for compatibility.
You could even vacuum-pack all your bulky sweaters and squeeze them into the smallest luggage before stacking everything together. And guess what - you are all ready to plan for the next trip!