Correct luggage can save money

Even bargain hunters sometimes find they’re wasting money — me included.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I have been checking my bag every time I take a weekend plane trip.

It was originally not a question of money but of convenience. It seems the TSA guidelines change so frequently that you have to review them almost every time you fly. I’ve had three pairs of “dangerous” hygiene scissors confiscated in the past, but now they’re permitted in a carry-on. Plus, I don’t keep on hand those travel-size bottles of shampoo that meet the 3 oz. regulations for carry-on.

This week, however, I ran the numbers. Delta charges $46 round-trip to check a bag online, $50 at the airport. That means a $200 carry-on, as expensive as it seems, will pay off in about four trips. And I can keep a pack of ready-to-go, travel-sized products to throw in.

Thus began my search for the carry-ons with the best value. No matter how much or how little you travel, there’s a bag for you that’s a steal.

The infrequent flier

The absolute cheapest rolling bag I could find was the Personalized Rolling Pilot Case from Walmart for $28.74. Intended to be a substitute for a bookbag, this option is not for serious travelers. But it does have a retractable handle, wheels, and will fit into overhead compartments. If you only fly one to two times a year, this overnighter, complete with a 60-day warranty, could do the job.

The occasional explorer

Samsonite luggage is known for dependability, and the prices are a bargain for someone who travels every two months or more. A Samsonite Aspire GRT carry-on will run you only $89.99 on sale from Samsonite.com. For $107.99 you will get the same model with spinner wheels for better maneuverability. If you choose Samsonite, buy directly from its website. You’ll get the best base prices; plus they run great sales.

The veteran jet setter

If you’re a seasoned traveler who flies once a month or more, you have to go with Briggs & Riley. This company guarantees its luggage for life — even if it’s damaged by the airline. The site offers free shipping for orders over $99, but value is the name of the game. A Briggs & Riley carry-on will cost between $209.25 for the 19” International Upright to $449 for the 20” Carry On Business Upright. The bottom line: you won’t have to buy luggage ever again.