Long trips are fun. You get to spend weeks in a new place enjoying yourself, but only after you’ve gone through the tiring experience of getting there. And long trips usually mean more than one suitcase even if you’re a pro at packing.
You’ve either seen or been one of those people at the airport with three different suitcases and a carry on bag, trying to hold the passport and boarding ticket with their teeth. All of that can easily be avoided if you just attach all those different bags and suitcases together, so that you can maneuver them with one hand!
This detailed guide will cover all the basic ways of hooking luggage together, as well as some tips on how to get creative if your favorite bags don’t have those convenient luggage straps.
When I was younger, I would get the biggest purse I own and throw all of the items I needed handy in it. And that was fine, until I had to juggle the bag, the suitcase, the coffee and the passport. The main issue was that my favorite bag for travel wasn’t actually meant for travel, so it didn’t have a luggage strap in the back.
Bags that have a luggage strap in the back are a must when you’re travelling with multiple pieces of luggage. You just pull that strap over the retractable wheel handle, and the bag is secured to the top of your bigger suitcase. Now you’re juggling two pieces of luggage with one hand, and your other hand is free to hold your phone, coffee, passport or whatever.
But what if none of your travel bags have a convenient luggage strap in the back? You can always get creative and make one yourself! You need a wide strap of durable fabric, a sewing kit and just some basic sewing skills. Alternatively, you could use a belt or just some basic rope to secure the bag on top of your suitcase and make your travels a bit more comfortable.
This depends on the exact make and model of a particular bag, but usually you will see luggage straps in laptop bags, underseat bags, smaller duffels and even some backpacks. Samsonite’s Guardit backpack is a great example of this, with a convenient luggage strap in the back that doesn’t interfere with the feature you would use on a daily basis.
Also, a backpack doesn’t necessarily have to have a dedicated luggage strap for you to attach it to a suitcase. Take the Osprey Porter as an example – instead of a luggage strap, you could use the two compression straps on the front of the backpack. Secure those to the luggage handle and you’re all set!
Keep in mind that it’s important that the smaller bag not be overpacked or too bulky. If it’s too heavy, it’s likely that it won’t sit on the top of the suitcase because the weight is not balanced. And if you have an overpacked carry on, you’ll need a whole lot more than a simple luggage strap to keep it from sliding all over the top of your suitcase when you make a sharp turn.
If you usually have an issue with overpacking smaller bags, I would recommend you look into underseat bags. They are spacious and usually have a rigid design that doesn’t really let you cram too many items inside. Plus, their shape makes them perfect for sitting on top of a suitcase, since the weight gets distributed evenly.
Also, some smaller carry on suitcases have a luggage strap in the back and they can be a really convenient option if you need more than just a simple bag. In most of such bags, the strap is mounted vertically, meaning you have to turn the suitcase horizontally to attach it to a larger suitcases. This is so that the weight gets distributed more evenly, which in turn ensures that the smaller carry on won’t fall off the bigger bag.
Attaching two, three, four and even five or more suitcases together is possible, but only if they are spinners. It’s not a breeze to manoeuvre all that weight, but at least you can juggle around five suitcases with just one hand.
The easiest solution is to just buy a suitcase that has built in hooks for additional luggage. These are usually called ‘add-a-bag’ straps, so that’s exactly what you need to look for if you want this feature in luggage. You can also look for ‘trolley sleeves’ – it’s the same thing and some European brands are more inclined to use that phrase. Some Travelpro suitcases some equipped with these features, and I’ve also seen in it some Tach hardshell suitcases.
IT Luggage used to have a similar system for their bags, but I think they ditched it with the newer models. If you can get your hands on some of their bags that feature the ‘carry tow’ system, your life could get a lot easier.
The upside in all this is that you can always buy a dedicated luggage strap for $10-20 and use it to attach several suitcases together. You can even to this with a classic belt or a rope, provided you have one that’s long enough go over all the luggage. The basic nylon straps work in the same way – you’re supposed to pull them through the handles of luggage and secure them all to the largest suitcase.
But, bear in mind that this only links the luggage together. If you want to make the bags really compact for even easier travel, it’s not a bad idea to tie some more straps around their bodies. This way they’ll all behave as one massive bag, and it’s much easier to manoeuvre them.
Depending on the exact type and amount of luggage you usually travel with, there are a few different types of luggage straps that you might find convenient. It’s great that we have so many different options now, since everyone can really find something that suits their travel habits!
There are the basic nylon straps that are means for hooking suitcases together, and those are available in a myriad of different colors and lengths. Some of those even come with a TSA friendly lock, but that’s a waste of money honestly. You can cut through most of these straps, and unless they are made from steel mesh, a TSA lock will do absolutely nothing for you.
You can also get luggage belts that are designed to hold smaller bags on top of large suitcases, which can be pretty convenient if your favourite carry on doesn’t have a dedicated luggage strap. There’s a few different versions of these, from a proper belt that secures the bag properly to the suitcase, to a small nylon strap that you just pull through the handles of your favorite purse.
Large backpacks are a good alternatives to checked suitcases, especially if you need something with huge capacity. A lot of the bigger backpacks will include a smaller daypack with them that you can either wear on its own or attach to the belly of the bigger backpack.
I know that Osprey does this often – their Daylite backpack has hooks that let you attach it to some of their larger bags, and you just have to look for pack that is Daylite compatible. They’re not the only brand that does this – Deuter and Roamm also have a variety of such bags.
The upside of these backpacks is that you have ultimate versatility when it comes to travel. If you need a carry on in-cabin, just detach the smaller backpack and use it for the items you want easily accessible. You can also wear the smaller backpack kangaroo-style, so that you have easy access to all the exterior pockets while you’re still at the airport.
The smaller packs also get you about 20-30 liters of extra capacity, so you get to bring more stuff to your trips.
In addition to that, you can attach backpacks together even if they aren’t specifically designed for that. You just need a bag with MOLLE cut outs on the front panel and a couple of nylon straps to hook the two bags together.
If you’ve already looked at bags that you can secure to the top of a suitcase, you probably noticed that some have a luggage strap and others have a luggage sleeve. So, what’s the difference?
Well, luggage straps are usually thin, whereas luggage sleeves tend to be thicker and usually feature one or two zippers. I prefer luggage sleeves to straps, especially the ones we often see in travel totes. They usually have two zippers, so you can easily turn them into an extra pocket when you’re not using them as sleeves.
Also, they feel more secure because they are wider. Luggage sleeves and straps are both seen in everything from travel totes and laptop bags to carry on suitcases. A simple strap might be less versatile, but it’s more convenient if you’re worried about the weight of your luggage. The extra zippers and fabric add more weight to the bag – we’re not talking about an extra pound here, but when have to stay under a specific weight limit, every single ounce counts.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.