So, you’re going on a big trip abroad. You have a lot of stuff to pack and you would like to have that stuff arrive at the destination undamaged. You also want to feel comfortable handling your luggage throughout your journey and not have to buy a new suitcase in a foreign country because your first one fell apart.
There is a whole bunch of factors to consider when choosing the type and make of luggage for your international travels.
Traveling internationally puts extra strain on your suitcases. The more transfers you have, the more shoving and throwing around your luggage will have to endure. There’s more handling by the airport crews, as well as more carrying and rolling around on your part. In addition to that, it’s one thing for the suitcase itself to remain intact and functional, but it also has to keep your belongings safe from harm. A soft bag is less likely to break, but it won’t save your precious things when another hardcase is dropped on top of it.
When flying internationally, you may face more stringent security checks than on domestic flights. What does that mean for your luggage? It means you need to be able to open it, unpack it, pack it again and close it. All of that without the zipper and locks breaking.
Next comes the question of comfort. What kinds of wheels will your suitcase have? Does the handle extend and retract properly?
Taking all this into account, let’s look at some examples.
The obvious advantage of a hardcase suitcase is its ability to protect its contents from damage. Baggage can take a battering at the airport, so if you plan to pack a lot of fragile valuables into your check-in baggage, you may want to look into getting a hardside one. An important precaution though is to make sure you buy a high-quality suitcase if this is the option you go for. Hardshells may crack and break under stress. The general rule is that the lower the price point, the cheaper (and weaker) the materials, so it makes sense to invest in a higher-end model.
Of course, these types of cases are heavier than their soft counterparts, so it’s better to have a four wheeled model than a two-wheeled one.
A good example of a much-praised hardside luggage is the Samsonite Winfield 2 28-Inch Fashion HS Spinner. It’s tough and durable and although the surface may get scratched in transit, this bag will likely survive many trips abroad.
Soft cases are the other option. The main advantage of a softside is their small weight compared to a similarly-sized hardside counterpart. In addition, it is somewhat stretchy, meaning you have the possibility of squeezing that one extra sweater in them even if they are packed full. The fabric of a softside luggage can absorb shock better than some hard plastic – fabric won’t break into bits – but it also means your belongings may get damaged more easily.
When it comes to the material of the fabric, there are a few choices as well.
Polyester is the cheapest material that is commonly used for making suitcases. Naturally, it’s also the one that’s most likely to tear.
If you are looking for a reasonably good and affordable suitcase, then perhaps the polyester American Tourister Ilite Xtreme Spinner 25 would be a good option for you.
Nylon is considerably more durable than polyester and is also a bit lighter. Nylon suitcases allow for a bit more stretch, which may be a benefit if you like to pack to the brim. Expect to pay a bit more for a nylon softside luggage, but also get a more long-lasting and back-friendly suitcase.
If this is the direction you think of going, then you might like the Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Softside 25 Inch Spinner. Samsonite is well-known for making high-quality nylon suitcases.
A different way of looking at luggage is the number of wheels it comes equipped with – the numbers are typically either 2 or 4.
Two-wheeled luggage needs to be tilted in order to move. This means that some of the weight will be placed on your arm. This type of suitcase needs to be dragged along – you can’t easily roll it at your side or push it in front of you.
On the other hand, two-wheelers often have considerably sturdier wheels, as these are attached directly to the frame and don’t have to spin to change direction. It’s one thing to roll your luggage around the airport terminal, but if you expect to spend a lot of time with your suitcase on the city streets, then this sturdiness is something you will appreciate.
In addition, given the same external dimensions, a 2-wheeler is bigger on the inside than a 4-wheeler because its wheels do not protrude as much.
Have a look at the Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 25 Inch Expandable Rollaboard for a lightweight suitcase featuring two wheels.
For more comfortable travel you might want to consider buying a 4-wheeler. This kind of luggage stands on its own and can be rolled around without putting any unnecessary weight on you. It can be pushed or rolled at your side.
The spinner wheels will not behave as well on tougher terrain, such as cobblestone walkways found in many European cities. Though a 4-wheeler may be tilted and used as a 2-wheeler if needed, you need to keep in mind that these wheels were not designed for this. They will keep trying to spin if the surface is uneven and may break more easily.
Other than that, a 4-wheeler is definitely much more comfortable to travel around with and has become probably the more popular option these days.
There are many excellent four wheeled suitcases out there. One very well-received model is the Samsonite Luggage Inova Spinner 28
If you are a light traveller, then even for international trips you may be able to pack into a single cabin bag and use it as carry-on luggage. Other than avoiding check-in and baggage reclaim queues, one nice thing about carry-on is that it doesn’t get handled by the airport crew – only by yourself. It also doesn’t travel in the cargo hold, but in the rather civilized overhead locker compartment. This means you can buy a lightweight fabric carry-on suitcase and not worry about the safety of your belongings.
There are myriads of cabin luggage options out there. As an example, the Travelpro Maxlite3 International Carry-On Spinner is both elegant and durable.