How to Buy a Suitcase

Do you have problems with your current suitcase or do you just need to buy a new one? A suitcase is a valuable item that everybody should have but if you have the wrong one, things could go terribly wrong.


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    Think of how you travel.
    • If you almost always take planes you might want to avoid the new charges for checked baggage and go with a carry on and extra bag. If you travel otherwise, you might want something like a backpack with wheels.
    • How and when will you need to reach for documents? How easy is it to get travel items (things you want while you’re in transit like food, water, napkins, computer, book, documents, etc.)? Do you need a special compartment size for an oversize item? Do you want a pocket inside to secure things to make them difficult to get to by others? Will you be traveling where roll-arounds don’t roll easily and it will be easier to “backpack” it with shoulder straps?
    • Consider the physical make up of the luggage. Will it have to be watertight, hard shelled to protect something inside, or foldable down to a small flat size for transport or placement in another bag, box or for shipping.
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    Next, look at other pieces of luggage for ideas of what features you want. An ideal way is to do window shopping on the Internet. You’re here already, take advantage of the ease of research, lack of time consuming travel and dealing with sales people. Here are a few keywords to use singly or in any combination: “luggage, roll around, reviews, features”.
    • Look at the different features they have, the placement of exterior openings like zippers, flaps, attachment loops, pockets, wheels, type of handle, etc. Think about each feature from the standpoint of how you travel. Mentally pack for a normal trip given the ideal features you would have and their ease of access.
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    Learn to pack and travel light. The reason most people have over sized luggage is because they take too much with them. The less you take, the easier the luggage will be.
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    Next consider the normal and over packed dimensions. You want to make sure it will fit the airline requirements and take full advantage of their dimensions. You may have to wear your coat while boarding, but want to tie it on when you roll around the airport. Can you easily and securely put your extra bag on it?
    • Here are two things to make sure of.
      • First, the extended handle must be high enough for me to grasp comfortably without having to bend over while I’m pulling it.
    • Second, you want something VERY sturdy from the handle to the wheels that I can sit on as a seat when waiting in long lines at airports, customs, and other stops I’m forced to endure.
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    Don’t try to plan for every situation. Travel is a sequence of “adventures”. Be flexible. Make sure you have a written list of the features you want in the order of their importance.
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    As you shop online or in stores use your list to narrow down your choices. As you get to final selections consider cost, appearance, weight, and consumer ratings. Metal zippers are far better than plastic ones (metal is almost always better than plastic in all parts). An odd color may not look chic but it is easier to identify as yours or track down if lost of snatched. Make sure the wheels are NOT too small. There will be times you roll over a crevice or door jamb or platform gap and don’t want trouble getting across. Try to get good quality, but understand that price is not always a good indicator of quality.
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    Finally, once you decide on the piece consider what you can do to tweak it a little by adding tie down loops, extra attached cords, a waist strap if you have a backpack type with wheels, a stitch on exterior pocket for bottled water, or other things you might want.


  • Ask somebody else to come and help you do all of these steps. This could result in your decision being much simpler.
  • If you had a suitcase before buying a new one, base your choices on that one. You then know what you definitely like and dislike.


  • Don't feel that you need do this all in one day. Take your time or you could find yourself regretting your decision.

Things you'll need

  • A friend (optional)
  • Some money (choose a budget to avoid overspending)
  • Some paper
  • A pen
  • Some shops that stock suitcases

Article Info

Categories: Travel Packing