Consortium for International Education & Multicultural Studies
Your suitcase is your single most important travel item. It should be lightweight, practical, and preferably not brand new. You should be able to carry it loaded with no great difficulty.
Regarding the hard vs. soft bag debate... Hard is best if you'll check your luggage, soft is best if you'll carry it on the aircraft. Most airlines allow one piece of carry on luggage, sometimes two if the other is a purse, camera, or briefcase. The average storage area under seats is 9 x 14 x 22 inches.
If you have a large suitcase and expect to be walking alot at the airport, then a set of wheels on the suitcase or a luggage stand on wheels makes sense. But sometimes wheels can be awkward, inconvenient, and just not useful. They don't go up stairs, over curbs, or onto buses easily. You may want to take two small bags, with shoulder straps, rather than one larger one if you think you'll have to carry them a lot.
Couples or friends traveling together should bring separate suitcases, but pack a few of the other's clothes in the suitcase in case one of you loses your bags.
Soft gym bags, large cloth shopping bags, and net bags are also handy for day trips, the beach, shopping in the markets, etc. plus they can be easily packed into your suitcase.
Label your luggage both inside and out with your name, address, telephone number and destination.
Photograph each piece of luggage, write its color, manufacturer, and other identifying notes on the back of the picture. Carry the photos with you when you travel - and be ready to deal with officials when your second suitcase never arrives.
Lock your bag (it might help to distinguish your bag from similar ones and discourages pilfering). Tighten and tuck in loose straps, or remove them temporarily. These may get caught in baggage-handling machinery and cause your bag to be delayed, misrouted, or damaged.
Remove any old airport/train or bus claim tags. If the baggage agent misses removing an old tag, your bag may be lost or misdirected.
Check your new claim tags when you receive them. It's easy for a harried ticket agent or curbside baggage agent to put the wrong airport-coded tag on your luggage. Keep your stubs; they are proof that the airline took possession of your bags.
If practical, make an inventory as you pack and keep the list with you. This will help you get more accurate compensation from the airline if your bags are lost. Take necessities such as medicine, etc, in a carry-on.
Always plan ahead. Just in case, and if there's room, pack a change of underclothes and clean shirt/blouse in your carry-on.