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Luggage recommendations
Old 03-20-2011, 09:28 AM   #1
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Luggage recommendations

DH and I need new luggage. The Samsonite set we have now is more than 20 years old. It was top-line Samsonite when we bought it, and it's held up well, but it's starting to look really worn, inside and out.

So, we're ready to buy new, hopefully to last the next 20 years. What would the well-traveled ER folks recommend?

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Old 03-20-2011, 10:02 AM   #2
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I don't think the make them like they used too....If you are going to buy new I'd stick with Samsonite. We prefer to travel with at least one hardshell suitcase and can't really beat Samsonite in that style, they are not as sturdy as they used to be, but are still better than the competition.
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Old 03-20-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
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So, we're ready to buy new, hopefully to last the next 20 years. What would the well-traveled ER folks recommend?

LadyPatriot
It depends on your type of travel. If it's mostly car/bus trips (no air), then a good soft-sided piece will suit your needs.

However, if you are traveling by air, be aware that the modern baggage handling systems do promote abnormal wear/tear, IMHO (especially in CDG - Paris).

A hard-shell would be better for air, but then again you are going to give up weight (hard-shell vs. soft-side) and it may impact your weight restrictions and additional weight charges for the trip - especially if it is for an extended time.

So the first question is what kind of traveler are you?

I mentioned CDG since my DW's luggage (actually mine, a good rip-stop, soft side top of the line Samsonite) was trashed upon her transfer to a flight to Cairo this past November. Also, I wor*ed in France so I would travel through CDG quite often. Most of the folks I traveled with had the same problem with their "system". When I wor*ed/traveled internationally on a monthly basis, I usually "retired" my luggage after a year or so. Again, the key to suggestions are the use that you forsee for the luggage.

As for my DW? She's more attuned to the inside "packing facilities", such as waterproof pockets, dividers, hanging garment bag inserts, and so forth (luggage has really changed in this place over the years, as you will see when you shop). Also, for her the ability to have "expandable luggage" is a must. That's where you have a separate zipper along the outside that allows you to stuff the inside, then sit on it to zip it shut to compress the contents.
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Old 03-20-2011, 10:58 AM   #4
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Yes, it depends on the type of travel you do. For long or international trips by air, my preference is a Samsonite hard shell. I have a big one that rolls and swivels and a little (carry on) one, also on wheels, which actually holds a lot. They stand up to a lot of abuse. For one night, or for car trips, I use a variety of softsided bags.

The Briggs & Riley brand has been recommended because of their lifetime warranty, but they are expensive. If you travel often, the life cycle cost is what matters.
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Old 03-20-2011, 11:37 AM   #5
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So, we're ready to buy new, hopefully to last the next 20 years. What would the well-traveled ER folks recommend?
Spouse and I have found a way to not have to care what kind of luggage we buy: garage sales.

It's amazing what people will put out on their driveway for $5-- if a piece of a matched set is damaged or lost then they'll sell the rest of the set. If a bag gets dirty or dingy or scuffed or loses a piece of trim then they'll sell it. If it's just not working out for them then... they'll sell it.

Another advantage of a cheap used bag is that we don't worry about it getting dinged or torn up (we only have to worry about the contents). Minor repairs can be made by a couple layers of duct tape. It doesn't look tempting to TSA or baggage handlers, either.

So now we have a half-dozen roller bags of various sizes & brands that represent a total investment of under $25. Maybe we'll spend $5-$10 every other year or so, but I think it's been less. We've had a couple of them for over five years. One only lasted about four years before its inner plastic shell fell apart. Last year we sent our daughter to college with three of our others. She was able to sell two of them to classmates, so she actually made a profit from the trip. If a roller bag gets seriously broken or holed then we just throw it in the trash-- because by the time we're done with it, nobody else will want it.

The biggest challenge is remembering what luggage we've checked so that we can recognize it on the baggage carousel. For that we use big floppy yarn balls or colored ribbons.

The point isn't frugality or expenses. The advantage of cheap used luggage is that we don't have to spend a lot of time finding exactly the retail bargain that we'd want, we don't have to spend a lot of time taking care of it, we don't have to get frustrated if it's being thrown around by handlers, and we don't have to worry about it if it's starting to fall apart.
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Old 03-20-2011, 11:53 AM   #6
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I bought an Eagle Creek bag that converts to a backpack and fits in the overhead compartment. That, along with a flyweight duffel bag that I stuffed the tent and sleeping bag into and checked when traveling by plane (otherwise they were strapped to the backpack) got me around the world. I'm still using it 15 years later. I had to replace a plastic buckle that fell off, but I found a perfect match at Joanne Fabric. That said, you have to know how to pack light, and wear clothes that can be washed in the sink and dry overnight. Wheels add a lot of weight so I won't have them on my luggage until my knees are truly toasted.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladypatriot View Post
DH and I need new luggage. The Samsonite set we have now is more than 20 years old. It was top-line Samsonite when we bought it, and it's held up well, but it's starting to look really worn, inside and out.

So, we're ready to buy new, hopefully to last the next 20 years. What would the well-traveled ER folks recommend?

LadyPatriot
Frequent or infrequent travel? By air or by ground mostly? Domestic or international mostly? Not trying to be difficult, but you should buy a little higher quality (spend more) if you're going to use it often and rely on airport baggage handlers a lot. If it's mostly riding in the trunk of your car and the occasional short hop flight, you don't need anything fancy, just shop deals on Samsonite or whatever.

My luggage is well traveled, I have a few pieces of http://www.travelpro.com/ & http://www.atlanticluggage.com/ luggage, based on online reviews and by paying attention to what commerical pilots and flight attendants own so I know it's functional, durable and cost effective. More costly than Samsonite, but you can find deep discounts if you look/are patient. Whatever else, watch out for cheap wheels or handle assemblies, luggage is a real pain when either fail. Best of luck...
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:33 PM   #8
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The point isn't frugality or expenses. The advantage of cheap used luggage is that we don't have to spend a lot of time finding exactly the retail bargain that we'd want, we don't have to spend a lot of time taking care of it, we don't have to get frustrated if it's being thrown around by handlers, and we don't have to worry about it if it's starting to fall apart.
But, my God man! What will the bellhops at the resort in Gstaad think?

I used my sea bag until the honeymoon - the Princess put her foot down and said I had to buy a real suitcase.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:37 PM   #9
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Have Hartmann luggage which has stood the test of time, and use, for us.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:58 PM   #10
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I cant recommend a brand or type, but I'd advise getting a color that's different. DW has black and so does everyone else - I always have a hard time finding it in the baggage area even though she puts pink ribbon on it, etc
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:59 PM   #11
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I would never go back to hard shell luggage again. I have two Samsonite suite cases from 45 years ago. They're in excellent condition but they're heavier empty than my soft-shell is when packed.
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:38 PM   #12
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I use rolling duffels from LL Bean. With their lifetime guarantee, I feel more like I'm renting than owning. I like all the pockets to keep stuff organized.
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:14 PM   #13
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I travel a lot by air (15-20 trips per year, about half overseas). I buy a Samsonite nylon wheeled case about every three years when a wheel breaks off or a zipper won't close. Observations:
-- Anything in a light color will look bad after the first trip. Brown or black with distinctive accents (so you can spot them) work okay.
-- Trying to make a fashion statement with luggage is crazy. I can find a good Samsonite roller for about $60 at TJ Maxx or other discount spot, and it will last for years. I haven't checked Goodwill or garage sales, but I'm sure Nords is right about the bargains there. I suspect that going with an ultra-cheap brand (e.g. 10 nested pieces for $29.99) might be false economy as the wheels and handles are unlikely to last long. OTOH, I sure don't "get" why anyone would pay $500 for a designer brand with fancy embroidery or leather just so it can be destroyed by the conveyors/handlers.
-- Depending on where you are going, watch the weight of the bags. European air carriers sometimes have lower max limits per bag than US, and an overweight bag incurs a very big fee. (Rant: There's a nice business opportunity for anyone wanting one. Go to the airport in Berlin and sell cheap nylon luggage for $25 each. Travelers are charged about $75 for an overweight bag, but only $25 for an additional bag. I saw a lot of folks pay this $50 extra for want of another piece of luggage. I would have fashioned a piece of "new" luggage on the spot with a pair of jeans and three twist-ties (or burned my dirty laundry right there at the ticket counter) before I would have given in to this extortion from Air France. But I'm over it now . . .)
-- None of the "regular" brands are as well made (or as heavy) as they were 20 years ago. I've seen some really flimsy bags with the American Tourister logo, I think they allow any manufacturer to use that name. Samsonite still has some quality control. It only takes a few seconds to see how well a piece of luggage appears to be made, I would buy an unfamiliar brand if it looked solid.
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:14 PM   #14
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So the first question is what kind of traveler are you?
We're mostly road travelers, but we do fly occasionally...maybe every two years. Next year we're planning a two week trip to Great Britain. This summer we'll be driving up to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

I like idea of "expandable" luggage! And wheels! Seriously, DH is really fit for 60, but no space goes to waste when I pack, and those cases can get really heavy. So it's got to have wheels.

Thanks for all the information and ideas!

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Old 03-20-2011, 02:51 PM   #15
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One of my favorite bags is the eBags Weekender. In spite of the name, I use one of these for 1-2 week trips. The backpack configuration works pretty well, with good shoulder straps and belly band. I've used this for air travel as well as train, bus, and subway legs of trips. It's NOT for cross-country hiking.

I should probably note that I'm more in the Rick Steves school of packing, although I've packed a carefully folded suit from time to time.
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:05 PM   #16
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But, my God man! What will the bellhops at the resort in Gstaad think?
Well, they've already seen the way I'm dressed so they're not expecting much. I tip big just to enjoy the expression on their faces.

We haven't actually stayed at a Houston hotel yet, either. Too many VRBO.com and AirBNB deals. Right now we're scoping out big places within walking distance of Rice for graduation week 2014...

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I used my sea bag until the honeymoon - the Princess put her foot down and said I had to buy a real suitcase.
I still have my 1978 white canvas edition, with my SSN stenciled on it and everything. My daughter turned up her nose at it last year, but we'll see how she feels someday when she tries to cram a piece of hard luggage into her stateroom...
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:52 PM   #17
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Here's some eaxmples to peruse.
Amazon.com: Rolling Luggage

I have problems with my hands, so wheels and a pop-up towing handle (with a larger diameter and/or cushioned hand grip) are a must. The wider the top section of the hand grip is, the less likely it is to tip back and forth. Integrated wheels versus higher profile (sticking out from suitcase bottom profile) wheels will survive the tender touch of the luggage handling crews.
I like the expandable dual zipper type, because it gives you a little extra room for items you may buy on the trip. I pack the suitcase unexpanded.
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:09 PM   #18
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I picked up a set from Wenger (the Swiss Army logo, not quite sure that is still the official name) several years ago, and they are fantastic. Sturdy and functional.
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:25 PM   #19
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It really does depend on what sort of travel you want to do. As seasoned world travelers we've learned the freedom of traveling light, and also that we can spend months traveling in Asia or Central America for what many folks spend for a couple of rushed weeks in Europe.

For anyplace in the developing world, or traveling lightly by public transport in Europe for that matter, forget about rolling luggage and go for a lightweight, carry-on size soft-sided backpack. Check out the Rick Steves online store or Eagle Creek for options. With 2-3 pairs of high-tech (Patagonia capilene or Ex Officio) underwear and socks and versatile travel clothes you can spend months on the road with a 20-30 lb. backpack (we spent 5 months in Asia a few years ago and easily kept our packs under 23 lbs. each - and wished we'd brought less). Rolling luggage is terrible on broken pavement (or no pavement) and weighs a lot before you even put anything in it.

Check out "The Practical Nomad" by Edward Hasbrouck for a lot more info on this kind of travel if you're so inclined.
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:35 PM   #20
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I cant recommend a brand or type, but I'd advise getting a color that's different.
Amen!

I have two lovely pink (yes, pink!) suitcases - I can see my luggage out the window at my connections on the luggage carts - so I know my luggage made it onto the next plane. Easy to pick out - the only other person I have ever seen with the same suitcase is my mother (yes, we bought them at the same time) I've got at least 25 RT flights, plenty of trunk road trips - even a few train trips - and still going strong!
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