Five Things You Must Know Before Buying a Suitcase
Buying suitcases that will last and do the job is easy if you keep these five things in mind.
- Where and why - Where are you going? Adventure camping in New Zealand, cruise in Alaska, party-girl in Las Vegas or strictly business? 3 days or 3 weeks? What’s the temperature, what’s the activity schedule, who (if any one) do you need to dress to impress? Are you willing/able to rinse out some laundry ? Answering these questions will help you decide not just what to pack but how — in a garment bag for dressy clothes or suits, in a duffle bag or knapsack for adventures, or in a suitcase for a combination of clothing types. Don’t forget that you will need a carry-on bag for your valuables, medicines, cameras and other in-transit needs. This might be a backpack or shoulder bag that you can use during your trip, or if your travel is for business, a brief bag, or a tote that matches your suitcase and can hold your purse.
- When - When will you be traveling and how often? By car, by airplane, by motorcycle? Do you pack light and leave room to shop? Do you pack everything in your closet? Remember that the heavier your bag, the more often it will end up on the bottom of the baggage handlers’ pile. But a lightweight bag that is always checked needs to be more durable than a bag that travels only in your car trunk. You do get what you pay for. More money means better components. Better components stand up to abuse better. It is not true that “the luggage handlers can destroy everything, any way.”
- How - How is your suitcase warranted? What kind of protection does the manufacturer offer you? Airlines cover fewer and fewer damage claims. Know how the manufacturer stands behind their product. But that’s a flexible definition depending on the quality of the luggage and the dependability of the company. Some brands ( Briggs and Riley, Boyt, Swiss Army, Tumi, Eagle Creek, Titan) insure against structural or functional damage caused by travel. Other manufacturers warrant against manufacturer’s defects only and do not cover travel damage. Check with your sales associate to make sure what kind of coverage is offered.
- What - What will your suitcases be made of—ballistic nylon, cordura nylon, polyester, cotton, leather, polyethylene? What kind of frame does it have? Honeycomb plastic, steel, wood? Every material has positive and negative attributes from weight, to color, to durability. Size and weight are more important than ever. Knowledgeable sales associates should know the benefits, the restrictions, and all the ins and outs of travel today.
- Who - Who should you buy from? A good good specialty luggage and travel store can provide you all this information and much more. Its sales associates will know everything that will make any and every trip more fun, safer and more comfortable. They will go to bat for you with manufacturers in the event of a problem. A specialty luggage store may offer free monogramming, gift wrap, repair and other services. It will have a better selection at a variety of prices. And its sales associates will be more interested in helping you find the bags that are right for your travel plans, no matter what you are interested in spending.