It's a snap to spot the amateur travelers just by looking at their luggage.
There is the woman with the sevenpiece matched set of Gucci cases bulging at the seams with clothes she will never wear but brought along "just in case."
There is always the frail girl trying to drag across the floor a gigantic suitcase, which weighs more than she does. And there is invariably someone trying to close the overstuffed suitcase with its broken hinge by sitting on it.
You can spot the business pros, too. Speed and efficiency and avoiding the extra effort and frustrations of travel are their constant preoccupations. Chances are you will find them in front of the terminal, where they ditch their bags at the curbside checking station.
Whether they are headed to Osaka or Omaha, there is that streamlined look that tells you planning went into their trip. It starts with selecting the right luggage. Like the airplane itself, a business traveler's bag must be well-built, strong but light, and designed to carry a specific load. Avoid the soft-sided cases if you are going to turn them over to the brutality of baggage handlers.
Those delicate and outrageously expensive bags with designer's initials can't take the punishment of modern, automated baggage-handling techniques. Rigid, molded luggage stands the best chance of survival.
Bags should always be locked before checking. Each latch should lock separately, preferably with combination rather than key locks. Be sure to select easy-to-remember combinations.
It is rare that a frequent business flyer carries more than the allowable limit of luggage. Yet it is a good idea to keep these limits in mind when buying suitcases, and planning your trips.
According to Eastern Airlines, at present you are allowed a maximum of three bags on domestic flights. The weight of any one bag should not exceed 70 pounds. The overall size, figured by adding its three dimensions, should not exceed 62 inches. The other two bags should not be larger than 55 and 45 inches, respectively.
The rule of traveling with no more luggage than you can comfortably carry youself for a reasonable distance applies particularly to the busy business traveler, but it's also good advice for the vacationer. You should also consider a collapsible luggage cart, particularly if you travel often with heavy sample cases. Generally, however, you are better off lightening the load and hand-carrying your luggage if you are trying to move fast.
If you do invest in a luggage cart, buy the heavy-duty variety with wheels four inches in diameter or larger.
If you want to speed up airport processing, you should travel with luggage designed to stow easily in the cabin. You will need a bag with all three dimensions less than 45 inches. The height, when the case in on its side, should be no more than seven inches.
Folding suitbags with extra space for toiletries and accessories are excellent for carry-on duty. You are never really certain before boarding how much space you will have for luggage. These bags provide the option of being hung up in a coat closet, laid out in an overhead bin, or folded and stuffed under the seat.
Planning the travel wardrobe is essential. Obviously, you must dress appropriately for your business meetings, but no one expects a traveling executive to be a "clothes horse." Many business travelers keep a checklist of items to be packed for the trip.
Your travel wardrobe should be versatile, lightweight and resistant to the ravages of your voyage. Garments should be of fabric that resist wrinkles and are suitable for many occasions.