As a frequent traveler or travel addict, you must willing to pick the best travel suitcase on your budget, so that you can enjoy 100% hassle-free journey; in fact, any passionate travel does the same and it is very important too. Undoubtfully, a perfectly built suitcase offers a tension free travel experience owing to several reasons; as for example, you’ll have a worry-free check in to flight where size and weight restrictions matter a lot, tension-free travel into the cruise where all luggage dump in a cabin, never to think about the inside stuff during a monsoon road trip, availability of easy to carry options and so on.
Based on my personal research and experience, I have created a refined list of the best travel suitcases that are available at a moderate budget. You may check the list from the link below.
But, before that read this article thoroughly to understand the list of parameters you need to consider for selecting a suitcase, even at a moderate price.
Purpose of a Suitcase: What Do We Expect?
Suitcases are one of the most essential objects for every traveler. Although you can head for a weekend trip with a small backpack, suitcases are obvious for long trips. However, if you travel with an infant or baby, you still need a suitcase on a weekend trip (from my personal experience).
When planning to buy a suitcase, most of us generally focus on the following criteria:
- The suitcase may be used in multiple purposes (actually in all-purpose).
- Easy to carry.
- That must be durable and can be used for a long time.
- Scratch and water resistant.
- Affordable price.
These are the major criteria for the best suitcases for travel. say alternatively, if you are looking for the aforesaid criteria, you have to search for the best suitcases in the market.
To fulfill all these criteria you may need to spend a bit extra bucks; if you are ready for that, you getting the best suitcase. Just read and follow the steps below, you’ll understand why I am saying so.
How to select The Best Travel Suitcase?
Above, I provided a glimpse of the reasons behind choosing a perfectly built suitcase, especially for long trips. In this section, I shall discuss the exact parameters that need to consider for choosing the best travel suitcase.
First of all, let’s explain the major points you should take a look before buying a suitcase.
If you are a travel lover or you need to travel frequently in a long or short flight. Nowadays airlines are very strict about the size and weight of the baggage. So, you need to be careful about the luggage criteria for the airlines. Although the size criteria vary from airlines to airlines, and from international to domestic flights; still you can outline an average size for your check-in and carry on suitcases. For some idea about free baggage allowances in some airlines, you can check the following articles.
- Baggage allowance details in USA
- Airline Luggage Regulations – Indian Flights
- Baggage Size in Airlines – Africa
- Airline Luggage Size Restrictions – Chinese Airlines
Airlines normally allow 1-3 bigger size suitcases as checked-in luggage (depending upon the class), and 1-2 smaller size suitcases as cabin luggage or carry on luggage. If you have a general idea about the suitcase size and weight limit, you can avoid the excess baggage fees in airlines.
You may need to travel by plane, road, train or cruise. Rather than purchase 3-4 different type of suitcases, we recommend you to choose one or two general sized suitcases which can be utilized for any purpose.
If you are traveling with your partner or family you have the option to divide your luggage into 2-3 suitcases. However, older kids can carry his/her own tiny suitcase to reduce luggage pressure from you.
In measuring a suitcase we shall focus on the parameters of airlines because airlines are most strict about luggage size and weight. In other cases, you can manage the matter somehow, but in airlines, you have to pay for excess luggage or have to cut out the weight which is irritating enough.
In most of the international airlines, carry-on luggage dimension limit is 115 cm or 22 inches linear. Linear size means length + width + height of the suitcase (including handles and wheels). That means, (23 + 36 + 56) cm = 115 cm. Alternatively the dimension should be 23 x 36 x 56 cm (22”x 14″ x 9″) as height x length x width.
For Checked-in baggage, the average linear size limit in international flights is 158 cm (62 inches). This may vary airlines to airlines as few airlines allow a bigger size.
Hard case or soft case
Now let’s discuss the shell of your suitcase. There are certain advantages and disadvantages for both hard case and soft case.
Hard cases commonly made by polycarbonate, Polypropylene or ABS plastic and rigid in nature. Samsonite is a famous company for hard case suitcases. For flight and cruise journey hard shell suitcases are the better choice because they often stack your luggage under a pressurized condition.
For the best knowledge about the hard case, you can see the following article,
The Advantages of Hard Case
- Shell is rigid and hence offers better protection especially for fragile materials inside.
- More waterproof than a soft case.
- Hardshell suitcases are difficult to break down, hence offers better security.
- No external pocket available (commonly), so nobody can insert some unwanted/illegal material in your suitcase.
- Very hard in nature, so you can use it as a seat if you, your spouse or your kids are standing for a long time.
The Disadvantages of Hard Case
- Some glossy and cheap quality hard shells get scratched easily.
- Cheap hard cases may crack.
- Commonly hardshell suitcases are not expandable or compressible, you have to load within the limit.
- You can’t squeeze it, which is required under certain circumstances, such as to keep it under the train seat or back of the car.
Softshell suitcases are much flexible in nature and nowadays few among those are offering waterproof nature too.
The Advantages of Soft Case
- Relatively lighter.
- These are expandable and you can add some extra stuff (i.e, extra clothes, purchases in your trip).
- Relatively flexible, hence these are manageable to fit into tight place (i.e., back of the car, below the seat of the train).
- No need to worry about cracking or breaking issues.
- Often soft shell suitcases contain external pockets, which are very useful during travel, especially in the train. In the external pocket, you can store the items of your frequent needs and you need not unlock the main chamber repeatedly.
The disadvantages of Soft Case
- Not as secure as a hard case. Stealing things from the soft case is easier.
- Less protective; fragile materials inside the soft case are not fully safe.
- Not waterproof in most of the cases (Nowadays few companies producing waterproof softshell suitcase).
- External pockets are not good for international travel. Unsafe people can put some unwanted/illegal materials into it, and you may be harassed by the checking authority. (wish nobody face such incident)
Now you can choose the best shell type which suits you well.
This is a must-have feature for your travel suitcase as nobody likes to carry packed luggage nowadays. You should check the durability and smoothness of the wheels and also check the tested run time.
There are two types of wheel systems in different suitcases, two-wheelers or rollers, and four-wheelers or spinners. Depending upon your general travel type you should choose the suitable one.
Two-wheelers can roll to forward or backward direction by tilting the suitcase. These are a better choice for uneven surfaces (bumpy road within the town, staircases). Two-wheelers are stable in a standby condition, you don’t need to lay it down repeatedly whenever you stop. However, the disadvantage of two-wheelers is, it can only be dragged in forward or backward direction, you always have to give an extra effort to pull it whenever you need to move on.
Four spinner wheels at the bottom of the suitcase allow it to move seamlessly through 360 degrees of motion. These are the perfect choice for a smoother surface such as the airport, hotel lobbies, shopping mall, etc. You don’t need to pull out the retractable handle every time, i.e., for short move. On rough surface, you can tilt the suitcase to roll on two wheels instead of four (see the image below). There are certain disadvantages too. The wheels at the bottom of the suitcase are normally attached externally, so a chance to break down is relatively high. Secondly, these are not stable in standby condition; you have to hold on or lay it down to stop its movement.
Suitcase Handle features
Nowadays all suitcases come with the retractable handle, and among those few come with more adjusting features. That means you can adjust the length of the handle as per your requirement. We recommend you to choose one having such an adjustable feature.
Besides, you should check the smoothness of the handle, steps of retraction, the maximum height of the handle, etc.
The double-strand handles relatively stable than a single strand and easy to use. Moreover, the double-strand handle can support your backpack or laptop bag if you keep those on the top of the suitcase during your movement through the airport lounge or road. We recommend you choose a suitcase with a double strand handle.
This is a major area you should look after. If the belly of the airplane or cruise gets wet somehow, the waterproof feature will save your stuff inside the suitcase. However, heavy rain can moist your stuff during the long run by road if you keep your luggage on the rooftop of the car. A waterproof suitcase is a must pick to avoid such unwanted situations.
Good quality hard case suitcases normally come with waterproof features. Nowadays you’ll get some soft case suitcases too with such features.
If you are a frequent traveler, you love to travel, or you have to travel frequently for your job, a suitcase is an important part of your life. So never negotiate with quality. You’ll get what you pay for; generally, low-cost items must be prepared with cheaper material. So you must check the quality very well to avoid an unwanted breakage in the middle of the trip.
So, it is better not to compromise with the quality for some extra bucks, though you must not spend beyond your maximum capacity.
We suggest you spend money for durability rather than external looks. A fashionable item will attack people and also thieves, but a durable suitcase will not betray you.
Normally top brands always offer the best durable quality within certain price ranges. Though sometimes unfortunate things may happen as the term ‘fortune’ is applicable to everything, from sophisticated electronics to big machinery. But big brands always pay you the cost of their fault, at least within the warranty/guaranty period.
Other parameters to be noticed for picking the best travel suitcase
Other than the above-mentioned major criteria you can put your attention over the following matters before buying a perfect suitcase.
- External Compartments: Sometimes external compartments in your suitcase become useful to keep things for your frequent use, such as toothbrushes, pests, liquids, towels, slippers, etc. But you need to be cautious about the external pockets as the reason mentioned in the earlier sections.
- Color: Black or any other dark colors are preferable for a suitcase because often you need to move through hasty and nasty places. For white color, it’s a big No-No.
- Warranty: Remember, top and expensive brands always offer you a reasonable range of warranty or guaranty, which you may not get from a cheaper item. When you are spending money on your suitcase, you must check for the warranty/guaranty. In an unfortunate breakage, you’ll get a smooth service/replacement.
- Weight: Besides the restrictions for baggage size, all airlines have certain rules for baggage weight too. If your suitcase is too heavy in the empty condition it may be difficult for you to manage the staff to maintain the baggage rule. So, always choose a suitcase of lightweight (within 3-5 kg).
That’s all the things you should focus on before buying a suitcase. As mentioned at the top, based on my personal research and experience, I have created a refined list of the best travel suitcases. You may check the list from the link below.
Dr. Suvankar Das is a scientific advisor by profession, associated with a CRO organization. He pursued his doctoral degree in Chemistry in 2015. Later, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher & scientist in a couple of institutes/companies.
Besides his scientific journey, Dr. Das is also a passionate traveler and travel blogger. He loves to share all his travel experiences with other travelers so that everyone can enjoy hassle-free holidays with their own tour plans.
He believes, the most beautiful thing in this world is the WORLD itself. so there is no way to live like a clock; rather live it like a compass!