Traveling with the wrong bag is like hitting the road with an incompatible companion. Where you want capacity, it comes up short. Where you need functionality, it offers flash. Where you demand versatility, it's one-note. Before you settle on a suitcase, consider not just your trip but your traits as a traveler.
The bags below are available from eBags, where AAA members receive a discount of up to 20 percent (visit www.AAA.com/etravelstore). Some are also for sale at AAA Travel Stores.
THE SUPER SHOPPER
Shopping is the activity on your travels, and you sometimes hop a jet just to get a little retail therapy in a new locale. For you, the ideal travel bag is big so you can lug home the booty. Good looks are key, too—style maven that you are, you can't be seen with just any old bag.
Your best bag: International Traveller Dots 26.5" Expandable Hardside Upright. Expands three inches with a zip. The polka-dot pattern will set it apart at baggage claim, and its polycarbonate shell is ultralight. $133.
Runner-up: Ricardo Beverly Hills Superlite 28" Expandable Upright with Scale. $180.
THE ROUGH-AND-READY ROADIE
No fuss is the name of the game. You toss a toothbrush and a change of clothes into a bag and you're out the door. You're just as likely to travel to the backcountry as the big city. You need a rugged, versatile bag that will serve you on a Eurail excursion or a car-camping trip.
Your best bag: Eagle Creek Exploration Systems Switchback Max 22. A hybrid bag that you can wheel or carry on your back. Bonus: a detachable daypack for forays away from base camp and to make both components meet carry-on limits. $290.
Runner-up: Travelpro Xtreme Lite Rolling Duffel 26". $100. Also available at AAA Travel Stores in Oregon and Idaho; call (877) 422-2359.
THE PERSNICKETY PACKER
You're organized, and you expect your suitcase to be the same way. You want to know exactly where your socks are and you journey with clothes that need to be hung. You're looking for a logical travel system with dedicated pockets, specialized storage compartments, and an integrated garment bag.
Your best bag: Travelpro Crew6 22" Expandable Rollaboard Suiter. This carry-on features antiwrinkle padded straps, a hanger hook, plenty of pockets, a hamper compartment, and an attachment system for a briefcase and the like. $200. Also available at AAA Travel Stores in Oregon and Idaho; call (877) 422-2359.
Runner-up: Atlantic Graphite Lite 21" Carry-On Spinner. $140. Also available at AAA Travel Stores in Oregon and Idaho; call (877) 422-2359.
Photography by Marc Simon
This article was first published in March 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.