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.
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.