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suitcase recommendations

I'm in the market for a new suitcase - any suggestions in addition to those provided in the packing section on this site? Am thinking of something up to 30x18x10 size but no bigger.

Posted by
8716 posts

Since most of us are people who carry-on, we would ask why you need a suitcase so big? If you are traveling on trains or public transport, you will regret it. That is a really big case.

Posted by
410 posts

I don´t generally do carry on as I mostly travel for work, but that seems a very big case.

Weight is the main issue - empty suitcases can vary a lot when empty, depending on what they are made of, wheels, frame etc. The bigger the case, the more it is likely to weigh empty and full - many international airlines have a 20kg limit in economy and the budget airlines can be lower still.

I generally go for simple soft sided cases with no or few external pockets, wheeled and light. Not black in colour. One internal zipped pocket (generally under the lid, and where I keep work papers etc)and that is it. I don´t spend a lot of money as cases get trashed by airlines and I don´t find the expensive ones last any longer than the cheap ones.

Sorry - I realise that doesn´t necessarily answer your question satisfactorily.

Posted by
606 posts

I travel a lot (lucky me!) and usually carry-on one 21-inch suitcase (the carry-on limit size) and a small day pack. I usually check nothing.

The MOST I would ever take would be a daypack that I carry on to the airplane, and check 2 21-inch carry-on-size suitcases. This way I can manage all my luggage easily by myself, wearing the pack and pulling a small suitcase with each hand.

I use the Rick Steves 21-inch Roll-Aboard, not because I'm a Rick Steves fan (though of course I am), but because I looked all over and, at just 7 lbs., these are the lightest suitcases I could find that meet the maximum allowable carry-on size of the airlines.

Posted by
12 posts

I'm looking more for different brand names of suitcases which are durable and helpful with efficient packing. A co-worker recommended Eagle Creek or Briggs and Riley but the latter seems a bit pricey.

Btw, am leaning toward something a bit bigger than the carry-on RS recommends cos our trip is partially on our own and part tour (30x18x10 is the size limit). Am thinking that it works out well so I don't have to buy another suitcase to send purchased goods home.

Thanks for responding!

Posted by
8716 posts

Brandy, I suggest you go to a local luggage store and see just how big the size of bag you are suggesting is. It's huge.

When you say travel on your own...how will you be traveling? I'm a former tour director and I've seen my share of big bags. However, trying to manage with bags of that size is very difficult on certain types of transportation. There are no porters on trains in Europe. You have to lift them on an off the trains.

Rick Steves has two rolling bags that are 24 and 26 inches but shaped exactly as his 21 inch rolling bag. He doesnt' sell them on this site but you can find them on the net at such places as Ebags. The bag is also expandable by 2 inches. Ebags has their own line of luggage and they are very good quality. I believe you'd be better off with a bag that expands if necessary rather than starting with a big bag.

Remember also that airline weight limits for checked bags are limited and if you go over you pay extra--and it's not cheap. It could be in the hundreds of dollars.

But if you want brands...Delsey makes excellent bags. Skyway makes good bags and they aren't too expensive. Bags you get at discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target may fall apart.

Again, I'd suggest an expandable bag over one that starts out at the max.

Posted by
2023 posts

A 30 inch bag is huge--don't know if British Air(and others) will allow that size--they have some restrictions on size/weight. My current bag is a Kenneth Cole "Reaction" that I bought at TJ Maxx for around $80--it is light weight and easy to handle. I do have to unzip the expander zipper at times.

Posted by
4555 posts

Brandy....I can just add my voice to those suggesting that a 30" suitcase is far too big! That's 5400 cubic inches of space...you could travel for six months with something that big, and never have to do laundry! ;) As someone has suggested, see how big it actually is....it's probably almost half your height....pretty unweildy to move around. And fully packed, it will weigh a ton! As a comparison, my usual travelling suitcase, at 19x14x8 holds 2128 cu.in. and I can usually get it to about 20 pounds or less. Depending on what and how you pack, that would put the weight of your case at 50 pounds!
Check this website here and here, and ask here on the helpline about tips for packing light. Most people find they won't use half the clothes they pack, and make use of sinks and laundromats for "unmentionables."

Posted by
1003 posts

Someone posted on here a while back about the Landor & Hawa Sub-0-G line. I checked it out and just got the 21" carry-on size, it's 4.8 pounds empty and seems sturdy. They make other sizes too.

Posted by
4555 posts

Susan brings up a good point. American Airlines, for example, now allows 50 pounds, max, for checked luggage, with a $50 charge over that. It also allows for linear measurements (length plus width plus height) of no more than 62 inches. The case you mention, Brandy, totals 58 linear inches...if you don't stuff it.I assume that, by posting it in this section, you are travelling to Italy. Alitalia's limit for checked baggage is 27.5x16.5x15.75, so you may have to pay a extra charge with them. Their Skyteam partners, Continental and Delta, have the 62 linear inch/50 pound maximum that AA has.

Posted by
41 posts

Brandy, I was a lifelong heavy packer, but learned to pack light before my month-long trip to Europe, one with lots of moving by train from city to city. I used Rick Steve's wheeled suitcase and and a LeSportSac purse, both of which are expandable. I packed a zippered tote bag in the bottom of my suitcase to use as a laundry bag. On my way home, I packed my gifts & art purchases in my suitcase & carried it on, then checked the tote bag (with luggage lock) full of clothes. Having one suitcase & one purse made it soooooo much easier to get on & off trains, walk to hotels, & fit in the TINY hotel elevators (or go up steep, narrow stairs). I saw people on those trains with massive suitcases, & none of them looked very happy to be manhandling them.

Posted by
106 posts

Hi Brandy,
My husband and I are traveling to Italy in late September and going from city to city by train. We each purchased a Samsonite 25 inch soft side with four wheels (bought it at Kohls on sale for a great price) to allow us to roll it sideways if necessary to get through narrow spaces such as train ailes. It should hold more than enough for each of us and still leave room for gifts etc. We will also each take a day pack with us to carry on the plane. Good luck and happy shopping.
Terry

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone for your comments. Yesterday I did as Frank suggested and went to check out luggage...ended up at a discount store and picked up a very nice 24" expandable Swiss Gear case for just $70!! The 30" was too big as you all state but the 21" seemed so tiny (I guess 3" is a big difference at least mentally!). To be honest this is my first extended trip without a backpack and my first tour. Am a bit nervous about a tour and the confinements of it but know it will be a beautiful trip so long as I keep an open mind. Btw, Frank, thanks for the tip on the ebags site - loved it! and they currently have a 20% off back to school sale so I was able to pick up RS packing cubes with a nice discount! Much cheaper than buying cubes at REI.

Gail, I love the idea of bringing an extra bag to check on the way home for dirty laundry - brilliant idea! On a side note if you're from IN I am a HUGE Joshua Bell fan! :-)

Thanks again to all who contributed here! I appreciate your time and thoughts.

Best wishes,
Brandy

Posted by
50 posts

Have any of you used the vacuum storage bags to compact your items in your suitcases? I suffer from chronic pains and wanted to see if I could take my pillow with me.

Posted by
8716 posts

Brandy, you should be fine with a 24" expandable. You'll be amazed how much it will hold especially using packing cubes.

Don't worry about your tour. It will be fine. As I mentioned, I'm a former tour director so if you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

Posted by
106 posts

Regarding Joseline's question about the vacuum bags, I have purchased a set each for my husband and myself for our upcoming trip. I hope they work as well as I have heard. I tend to pack way too much and since this is the longest trip thus far, I am nervous about taking more than I need and not being able to manage my suitcase on the trains etc. As for packing the extra bag for dirty laundry on the trip home, this has been something we have done many times and it is a GREAT spacesaver so the gifts/souvenirs can go into the suitcase!

Terry

Posted by
20686 posts

I personally think the vac bags are a waste of money. A two gal, zip lock, freezer bag can achieve the same thing for a tenth of the cost. Second the compression bag just allows for more weigh in the same space. Which is the opposite of what you should be trying to achieve. However, if you believe that you need that much space, then take two bags. Two bags weighing 20,25 lb each are far easier to handle than one bag weighing 50 lb.

Posted by
1000 posts

Brandy I have to agree with other posters that a 30" suitcase is huge. You will not want a suitcase that big especially for train travel. Our family of 4 usually has a rental car when we visit Italy or any other place in Europe and we still only take 21" suitcases. I recently returned from 3 weeks in Italy--a trip with my 2 sisters, my son and my niece, both 18 years old. and we traveled by train. We each had a 21" suitcase and am glad we had nothing bigger. Hoisting even a 21" suitcase up the steps into the train and then up above your seat (you will not always find baggage storage at the front of the train)is not easy and we are not that old either--49,50, 51. We worked out a system getting our bags on and off the train with my son doing most of the hoisting. Imho when you see travelers with massive bags they look kind of silly. Pack your bag and then take out 1/3 of your clothes as you will not end up wearing them all. If you are only going to wear something 1x then don't pack it. I also do what Gail mentioned above and pack a tote bag in the bottom of my suitcase to fill up with clothes to check for the trip home and filling up my suitcase with goodies.

Posted by
1000 posts

Brandy if you live near a TJ Maxx or Marshall's, you may want to check out their bags. They get lots of different ones in and their prices are great.

Posted by
1449 posts

Brandy, after your trip (and especially after the part where you're on your own) please come back to this site and give advice. You'll be one of the people who can attest from 1st-hand experience what it is like to wrestle large suitcases over rough surfaces, up stairs, and onto public transit.

Posted by
225 posts

Brandy,
You mentioned this is your first trip without a backpack. Any reason you don't want to use a backpack? Just a thought. Anything you pack in a suitcase will fit in a similarly sized backpack.

Posted by
2 posts

Do the trains and buses not store the suitcases in a separate luggage area? Do I have to lug my bag into the seating area of the bus or train?
May have to rethink my packing strategy....

Posted by
8716 posts

On most trains, you either store your luggage above your seat, if it is small enough, between seats if they are facing away from each other, or on luggage racks at the end of the cars. You do not "check" your luggage on a train. You are responsible for it.

Most buses store your luggage in the luggage compartment under the bus. However, at stops, you need to make sure no one takes your luggage. Smaller items can be taken on the bus.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks Frank. Definitely time to rethink my strategy. We are taking a bus from Rome to Siena, then train from Siena to Florence, then Florence to Bologna. I'm not going to fight with a big bag....

Posted by
1568 posts

We each use the Rick Steve's 21: Roll Aboard for 8 week trip. It also expands about 3 inches which was very nice. It seem to grow as we went.

It has the large nice rollers.

I may add we each had a day back pack 15 X 19 that also expands. Plenty of room for any trip. Plus I use a PacSafe StashSafe (fanny pack) 200.

Posted by
31030 posts

Brandy,

You mentioned that this would be your first trip without a Backpack and your first tour.

As someone else asked, why are you not using the Backpack this time?

Also, what type of tour will you be taking?

Posted by
11 posts

I am so interested in this - we leave Friday for two weeks - Chicago to Palermo on Alitalia and then home from Rome. We are in Sicily for a week, ferry to Naples, train to Rome. I first bought a 25 inch suitcase that my husband and I would pack and then pack a 21 inch. Then decided this was crazy - we needed something we could carry. So now we each are packing our own bag (21 and 22) and then will carry on a rolling back pack and reg back pack.

Freaking out about Alitalia and lost luggage. I just dont see that I can pack a 20 inch with my stuff to carry on. And I realize that it is one carry on in Europe for our flight from Rome to Palermo. I will pack shorts, bathing suit, underwear and t-shirt to take on board in case I dont see my checked luggage. Is this a plan I should stick with or try and get my 20 inch to hold my stuff and carry it on?

Posted by
8716 posts

Janet, you're going to get mixed results. Some here always check luggage and think it's ridiculous not to, and others, follow what Rick Steves suggests and take carry on only. I'm a carry-on person.

Many of us who have traveled a great deal keep trying to make our luggage lighter and lighter. My packing list gets whittled down after each trip. When you first start traveling you believe you need more than you do. Or pack "just in case" because you're not sure if you can get things there (you can.)

Rick Steves uses a line to help you decide if you should take something. Ask yourself: "Will I use this enough to warrant packing it. Not will you use it, but will you use it enough."

Could you take a little less clothes and just sink wash a little more often? Could you do without big size toiletries and just get enough to fit in the 3-1-1 bag and replenish as you go along? Are there items that you really don't need but are taking because you "might" want to have it?

The less you have to take with you, the happier you're gong to be on the trains, ferries, public transport, etc. And you'll be less of a target for thieves.

Posted by
283 posts

The Rick Steve's Backpack/Suitcase. Please, not another noisy "I'm A Tourist" suitcase on wheels.

Posted by
1170 posts

I used a case that size on my first trip to Italy. Never again. It is very tempting to try to fill a suitcase that size and therefore it will be a very heavy one (extra baggage fees) and it will be very difficult to get on and off trains, etc... My last trip I used a 24" case (wearing my clothes at least 2 days) since I would be staying for 3 weeks. I barely got everything in it. The size you take will depend on how long you will be there and whether or not you will be attempting any laundry while there. If you stay for 2 weeks, you could probably get by with a 22", again depending on the laundry situation. Others can do it with a carry-on, but it is beyond me how they do it!

Posted by
252 posts

Two things: the smaller the better, and the lighter, the better! Some trains have luggage storage areas near the doorways, but not all. And then, they don't fit very many suitcases. Many people on one train I was on had to stow their luggage in the aisle, and we sat on ours once. Some overhead storage areas are fairly good sized, but not all (my carryon barely fit overhead on one train). And, some hotels/bed and breakfasts/etc not on the ground floor don't have elevators and you have to lug your things upstairs on your own. One more thing: hotel rooms, etc, there are not the roomy sized ones we have here in the U.S. and finding places to stow your luggage in the room can be challenging.