Suitcases- 2 vs 4 wheels

What do you think of 2 versus 4 wheeled cases? A quick google search showed opinions that 4 wheeled "spinners" are great in airports, but tough on cobblestone in Europe because the wheels are smaller. The opinion I read said that 2 wheels are preferable in Italy because the wheels are bigger than the 4 wheeled cases.
Any thoughts? Thank you.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12893 posts

Absolutely. We don't use any wheeled luggage in Europe because of poor sidewalks and crowd conditions. However, that is also personal preference. But if you are going to use wheels, bigger is better. Little wheels tend to get caught in every small crack in the sidewalk or street. When we incorporate a cruise in our travels we do take one wheeled carry on and that has two wheels about the size of a roller blade skate wheel - maybe two, three inches.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

My wife is a wheelie, I think she likes it because you can stack the little bag on the handle and march along. I don't think you could do that with the four-wheeler upright and make much progress. Actually, people I've seen hauling butt in airports seem to have the thing reared back on its hind legs. Anyway, she was messing with one in the store a while back and the darn thing went topsy turvy when she hit the bump where the hard floor meets the carpet. She put it back.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5878 posts

I prefer the two-wheel bag, easier to maneuver over uneven terrain. My current bag has a side handle so I can carry it like a suitcase, but I never have.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

I just returned from a trip where I used a 4 wheeler for the first time. I will say it works great in an airport. I did find myself tipping it forward and pulling it behind me on two wheels up the slope of the jetway - I imagine any uphill climb would be easier on two wheels than 4. Foe me - I will stick with my 2 wheeler - especially on uneven pavement or cobbled streets.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
862 posts

I use a 4 wheel spinner for domestic travel (the baggage guys love it apparently). Tried it in Florence - what a dud. Now I only take a two wheel suitcase with large (3") semi-recessed wheels. Having the wheels semi-recessed keeps them from being broken off in the baggage handling hell of the airport's bowels. Make sure the handle is long enough for you to drag it behind you if you are tall.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
1066 posts

We were looking in a luggage store here in our town, and the owner told us he had complaints from customers about the 4 wheelers - for just the reason you mention. He recommended two wheels.

Posted by Thomas
Hermosa Beach, CA, USA
115 posts

We used a 4-wheel spinner for a trip all around southern England last year with a lot of loading/unloading to stay at B&Bs. On our last day, one of the wheels broke as we were pulling it across London. I flipped it over and used the two good wheels on the other side to get us to the plane. As mentioned, it was great in airports and anywhere with smooth surfaces. I don't think we'll ever go back to 2 wheels unless we take a RS tour.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4140 posts

Several years ago, my MiL announced she had purchased new spinner luggage for our trip to Europe. I may have momentarily blacked out; I pictured having to now carry that blasted thing all over Europe. Turns out, the back wheels were larger, 'regular-sized' 2-wheeled luggage size. Whew. That's pretty much all I've seen in the 'spinner' market since then. You get the best of both worlds. Having said that, I have no problems with my 2-wheeled RS bag in airports...but I always carry a backpack in Europe. All wheeled luggage looks kinda yucky in Europe (cobblestones, tons of stairs, buses/trains/trams), but those 4-tiny-wheeled ones look REALLY yucky. I'd say go for a bag with 2 large/2 small spinner wheels, or 2 regular wheels. Whatever you choose, be sure to pack it and try it out first. Some tip over, some won't hold a smaller piece on top, some don't roll smoothly fully packed. Happy Shopping!

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I bought the 4 wheeler a few days ago, and am going to play with it around the house first, and compare it to my old two wheel. (wheel size, slopes...) Haven't decided yet. It does seem convenient for airports, but seeing as I bought it specifically for this Italy trip - it might be getting returned.
Big Thanks to everyone, you make planning fun!

Posted by Bev
Decorah, Iowa, USA
273 posts

I just bought a 4 wheeled suitcase for our trip in a few weeks. I have planned to pack it to compare the space between it and my other 2 wheeled suitcase. I wish I had read this post before going to the store yesterday. I will check out the wheel size as part of my comparison. Thanks!

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

I began using two wheelers in the dark ages when they first came on the market. Last year we switched to 4s. love them. We are both in our 60s and it is great to not have any weight on us. We are strong enough to lift the luggage over a few seams. We seem to plan our trips so we don't do marathons on cobblestones.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12893 posts

I think it is interesting that CAT bought the 4 wheeler and then came here and asked our opinion about buying 4 wheels. And then seems surprised by the mostly negative comments about 4 wheels. As I use to tell my students, "If you are not prepared to accept any answer, then don't ask the question."

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Hi Frank - glad you find me interesting ;) I'm actually very appreciative to receive all feedback from everyone on here, it has greatly helped to shape many aspects of my trip planning I truly couldn't have done alone! *
I bought the 4-wheeler prior to posting this question. Post-purchase, I considered it may not be ideal for Italy, as many have confirmed- Especially since it has 4 small wheels as opposed to 2 large, 2 small. I am able to return it, that's why I inquired. Anyways, just for the record, I'm beyond grateful to everyone that has responded.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1574 posts

I lived in Europe last year and traveled a lot on trains, often with suitcases.
It is true that 4-wheelers (which I had) don't function well on cobblestones, or uneven or hilly sidewalks, so I just used it as a two-wheeler. But in large train stations or airports with flat surfaces, they work great and I was glad for at least some opportunity to use the 4 wheels, and get a respite from the weight of my luggage. You can use it either way, why not have both options?

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7927 posts

I don't think anyone mentioned that four wheels are usually heavier. Some carriers have weight limits for carry-on luggage as well as size limits. Buying the lightest bag possible leaves you some allowance to carry something inside your bag.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1574 posts

My polycarbonate 4-wheeler is extremely lightweight.