SAN ANTONIO – Luggage has come a long way.
Nowadays, probably your biggest luggage-buying decision is whether to buy soft side or hard.
Thanks to modern plastics like polypropylene, ABS or polycarbonate, hard-sided luggage can be durable and light.
Aluminum luggage is likely the most durable, but a bit heavier. The strong construction makes it harder to slit and locks are usually built in.
"They're also a good option for traveling with more fragile items, which can crush easily," said Consumer Reports money editor Nikhil Hutheesing.
Aluminum luggage also guarantees a no-bulge fit in the overhead bin -- as long as you buy the right size.
But there are some drawbacks.
Aluminum luggage lacks flexibility and taked up more space than soft-sided bags.
Soft-sided suitcases are more flexible, work well in cars and can compress into overhead bins. They have extra pockets, which may mean more organized packing.
"But soft suitcases can be vulnerable when it comes to security and ripping," Hutheesing said.
If you buy a soft suitcase, make sure its made of strong materials, like nylon or polyester, with a higher denier or D rating -- an indicator of thickness and strength, Hutheesing said.
A denier rating of 600 is common. The higher the number, the more wear and tear it can take.
Also pay attention to the wheels.
Suitcases with four wheels are more ergonomic and can spin in different directions.
Suitcases with two wheels only go forward and backward, but roll better on sidewalks or uneven surfaces.
The right luggage may not make travel totally stress free, but it can help.