High Durability Baggage For The Frequent Traveler And Why It Pays Off To Invest More Money In Luggage

by -
15 Comments

Everybody no matter if you’re a frequent or leisure traveler is confronted with the situation to purchase a new suitcase or carry-on every few years and the prevailing dilemma is usually how much to spend.

Obviously someone who travels less frequently can get away with purchasing a less durable item than a frequent traveler who travels daily/weekly/monthly and would like to keep his bag longer than a few months.

It’s no secret that as far as baggage is concerned you can go extreme on either end of the spectrum and travel with a $10 sports duffle or a $2000 luxury brand item.

My opinion is that there is a purpose for every one of these products but if you want a practical item as a frequent traveler then you should invest a little bit of money into durable products because in the long term. They not only last properly and are more likely to withstand the rough treatment at the airports but it is also much easier to fix a proper brand named suitcase if something is damaged to a repairable degree.

Just last week It so happened that I had to check in my rollaboard Tumi suitcase and when it arrived the lower part of the zipper was completely ripped open. Nothing was missing but the bag was on obvious need of repair. Leave aside the dispute with the airline (China Airlines) that initially claimed zippers aren’t covered which I argued in the way that this is not a normal zipper damage but the result of a rather rough treatment on a pretty expensive bag and as a Business Class passenger I expect them to at least repair it.

To get an impression, here is how it came off the belt (tape wasn’t mine):

I insisted on having it repaired rather than the suitcase replaced because it’s an older model that isn’t sold in retail anymore and not only is it light but has a very good capacity for stuff. I can take this bag on a week long trip without any issue. I also doubt that I would get very much in compensation for a 5 1/2 year old bag despite it’s good condition so a repair was the best way to handle it.

TUMI has both their own factory repairs where you can also get warranty work done (Tumi has a 5 year warranty on their products) and there are professional, licensed baggage repair shops that also work with the airlines. My bag was picked up on Monday and by Saturday it was delivered with a new zipper which I dare to say is pretty good work.

It would be very hard to have a repair shop handle a non branded, low quality suitcase since most of the time the repair is more expensive than just replacing the suitcase entirely.

I’ve purchased a good number of TUMI items over the years but also bought products from Rimowa, Briggs&Riley, Hartmann and Samsonite. Many of these were expensive and accompanied me on my trips for many years until they finally got replaced due to aesthetics after heavy use.

I believe there is a good middle way for everybody. Would I suggest expensive brands to someone like my parents who travel maximum twice a year to some beach location? Absolutely not. In fact I just bought them a Samsonite luggage set that is very well done and just over 300 EUR for 2 larger suitcases and a carry-on. I think Samsonite still makes some of the best mass market products as far as baggage is concerned and I have fond memories of my Oyster II Samsonite I took on my first trips. I just found it in our basement a few months ago and that good old beast went through everything in it’s way.

What I’m trying to get at here: You don’t have to spend a massive amount of money to have a good product they will be on your side for many years and proves to be reliable. I love the fact that standard brands like the ones mentioned here can be fixed pretty much anywhere in the world as long as it’s not a total damage like a cracked hull. Something like that is usually the death sentence for any suitcase.

Conclusion

Before purchasing your new suitcase do some research and figure out where to get a good price. Rimowa is traditionally the cheapest in Germany and you can even get a tax refund as an overseas visitor. Samsonite Travelpro is very reasonable in Europe and North America, TravelPro is often available for a good price in the U.S. and keep an eye out for TUMI Outlets or online sales.

It’s not necessary to spend $500 or more on a suitcase under any circumstances unless you like the product for it’s aesthetics or other reasons (brand) that would always lose the argument against best price/value.

If you enjoyed this article, get our blog updates for free!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  • Neal

    What a bizarre post. Perhaps loyalty lobby’s lead complainer should stick to his area of expertise (cheapness, compensation and racism).

  • Ian smith

    San this is raking things a bit too far.

  • Nick Hevelian

    So he’s in dispute with China Airlines now?

    I wonder if there’s a single company in the world he isn’t in dispute with.

    • Ramitran

      I laughed out loud!

  • Jamo

    Tumi have an email mailing list which is worth being on. About twice a year they have a major sales and last year, one of these sales was 50% off. We wait for this and replace about one bag a year in a sort of rolling cycle.

    The Tumi outlets in both Premium Outlets in Orlando are both very good and have 90% of what the main Tumi stores do. If you’re visiting from Europe and the exchange rate is good at the time (not been for a while), you can get an absolute bargain during these sales.

  • JC

    I bought Victorinox suitcases with a life warranty at Macy’s about 10 years ago. Amazingly they have been repaired or replaced with a newer model ever since. All I have to do is bring them to the authorized Victorinox repair shop in my city and pick them up about a month later (it does take a long time). It has happened occasionally that a particular repair was not covered, however overall the life warranty makes a $300 or $400 suitcase an outstanding value. I fly about 300,000 miles/year and usually check my luggage. BTW when I go to the repair shop the owner tells me Rimowa is the most frequently damaged brand, he always has a pile of their suitcases that look damaged beyond repair.

    • Flyboy

      Frankly the fake ‘Rimowas’ available in various places in China are sturdier than the original. I call mine “Riwowas” .. !

  • Malcolm

    I volunteer at my local airport and witness the state of some of the luggage on the belt. Rips, patches, duct tape and broken zippers are very common and most of the damage is not caused by the airline. I am surprised that the airlines do not tell passengers with seriously compromised luggage that they are not accepting any liability.

    • Gary

      Many years ago, I worked for a handling company, which amongst several other airlines, staffed the counter for ATA, American Trans Air (aka. American Trash Air). At that time there was a flight from LAX to ORD, for $99. You wouldn’t believe how many passengers showed up with “luggage” that consisted literally of two plastic garbage bags, tied together to form what looked like droopy “Glad” barbells.
      When we explained to them that the airline couldn’t be responsible for any damage to their “luggage”, we’d always get looks of bewilderment!

  • Flyboy

    There are many bags that simply cannot be repaired anywhere because that model/brand is not sold at that country. I had an American Tourister bag that had its wheels ripped off on one flight. The airline agreed to repair it and I was in Vancouver at the time. But when I brought it to the repair centre, they said that the brand isn’t available in Canada but that they will try to repair it. They did in the end, but the wheels were of the wrong size and the bag is sort of lobsided though it will roll, it is not properly fitted. So no use complaining to say China Airlines when the bag you have needs to be replaced and the city where you’re at just cannot get it done. What you might think is a simple case is really quite complicated.

  • Christian

    Excellent post. Thanks.

  • Gary

    No doubt the airline purposefully damaged little Sebastian’s bag because of his history of complaining and demanding points from them.

  • I think buying a high-quality luggage (not necessarily a high-priced one) is worth it, even if you travel infrequently: You don’t want to spoil your x-thousand $, once-a-year vacation because your $49 luggage spilled all your stuff all over the baggage claim or you have to carry it, because a wheel broke off. Checked luggage is treated pretty roughly, but I still have fully functional Samsonite Oyster as well as a soft-side Samsonite check-in luggage, both have lasted for years.
    I also had a Tumi carry-on for almost 15 years, then gave it away because it was oversized. I’ve replaced it with another Tumi that I also expect to last for a long time.
    But there are also inexpensive brands that are very good quality, for example eBags. I have an eBags backback as carry-on that has lasted through countless trips with few signs of wear! I’d recommend that over a no-name luggage from the discount rack any day!

  • Brock Marshal

    There is only one luggage brand worth anything.

    Pelican.

    I had airlines chew up my luggage so fast I had to press a Pelican case into service that I used for photo gear as I had nothing on hand and no time to buy a new one. 9 years later and 80-100 cities and beaches later it is perfectly good. Bears many scars from attempts to destroy it but has not caved in and will never cave in.

    I wore the bearings out on this after 9 years of dragging it around, and Pelican just mailed me replacement wheels for no cost. No receipt, no nothing just here have some new wheels. I use a Pelican Storm case which is a bit lighter than the heavy duty Pelican main line.

    It is waterproof and floats as it is airtight.

    The Pelican carry-on case you can sit on and use as a chair, and it will stop shotgun blasts. As well as being waterproof, watertight and floats.

    I have saved thousands of dollars in replacement luggage.

    Oh not to mention that whatever you have in these cases is not going to get smashed, mangled or destroyed in transit.

    After Pelican, everything else is a toy.

  • Gaijinsan

    I really like TravelPro myself, but getting work done in Asia isn’t easy. If you’re not in a rush, I have had them send me parts from Montreal for free a couple of times and did repairs myself, but for the most part, warranty repairs seem to need done in the US. The good thing is that most of the parts are very easy to swap out with little mechanical skill, something I can’t say for the older Samsonite products I had years ago.