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Favorite (affordable) luggage recommendations...

Looking for recommendations for luggage....possibly around $200 range?? 4 wheels preferred but for sure something that will last over cobble stones.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
1078 posts

Ronda,
All the Rick Steves bags are within your price range, especially when they are on sell (which is fairly often). I've used them for over 10 years and had good luck with them. I really like how they back up their warranty if the bag is defective.

You have a lot of good choices. I would focus on an established brand. Examples: Samsonite, travel pro, osprey, ebags, eagle creek, Delsey, Rick Steve, Eddie Bauer, LLBean.
$200 is a generous budget. Focus on size, weight, features.

Posted by
14098 posts

Do compare weights of bags you decide to look at and go for the lightest weight one especially if you are pulling over cobbles and on/off trains. If you live where there is a Kohl's they sometimes have good sales and I'd start trolling your local TJ Maxx/Marshalls.

What size do you want?

Posted by
2613 posts

I finally decided it was time for a hard-side suitcase last year and spent a good hour in TJMaxx inspecting various brands-- Calpak suited me best because I liked that each side of the suitcase was completely enclosed with a zipped partition, and had elastic straps in each side, instead of the many I saw that only had straps, or maybe just partly open partitions. $100, about 8 lbs empty, 4 wheels, 25" so it's my checked bag, performed well trundling on streets & transit in Edinburgh and London.

Posted by
4744 posts

I also liked shopping for my recently purchased luggage at TJ Maxx, with their variety of brands, sizes and styles. In December, our store had an influx of inventory, with brands that included Samsonite, TravelPro and many others, often in matched sets. I brought a luggage scale and and measuring tape and bought a 3 piece set for $230.

Posted by
6698 posts

I like my TravelPro Maxlite 5 spinner carry on. It's very lightweight (only 5.4 lbs), very durable and easy to maneuver; whether you are at the airport or walking over cobblestones in Europe. I've been using TravelPro luggage for years (my brother was a Delta pilot and told me about them) and I've always been happy with them. Prices are reasonable and the quality is good. But the fact that it's so lightweight is a bonus for me.

I just noticed you did not specify a size. Keep in mind that anything bigger than 21" will have to be checked. Also, you should decide if you want a softside or hardside suitcase. Mine is softside, which I like, but others prefer hardside. Every luggage manufacturer usually sells both.

Posted by
11302 posts

When you go shopping for luggage, take a luggage scale with you.

Posted by
4970 posts

And a measuring tape! Don't just trust the advertised measurements. And be sure to count both the wheels and handles.

Posted by
11302 posts

I have had a TravelPro and also a Rick Steves bag
for many years. I’ve taken them both around the world. Rugged!

Posted by
4232 posts

Like Mardee, I am a big fan of my TravelPro MaxLite spinner. I think she has a soft side and I have a hard side. I did have to get used to packing a clamshell style bag when I made the switch.

Posted by
6698 posts

TexasTravelmom, I've been curious about that. Do you think that the clamshell design gives you more flexibility with packing?

Posted by
5 posts

Flight attendants use TravelPro. This should be a major clue. Even if it's a little over your price range, it'll last a lot longer.

Get a quality bag and the wheels will be fine. Go cheap and the wheels become risky. (And, yes, 4 wheels are better than 2.)

If you want to save money, both short- and long-term, buy international-sized bags. Can get the dimensions from any Euro or South American carrier's website. They're a little smaller, but you won't really notice (if you do, start packing less.) They'll cost less because they're smaller. And if you buy the bigger US bags now, you'll have to also buy the smaller international bags later. Buy once.

We have soft- and hard-sided bags. I strongly prefer soft-sided. They're lighter and easier to pack/unpack, especially the front outer pocket. No less durable if a quality bag. And they don't get dented or scuffed.

The problem with clamshell bags is: most are too big for hotel luggage racks. They'll sit on the rack, but good luck opening them completely. So you'll have to do all of your packing/unpacking either on the bed or the floor. Smaller ones can work OK (if they're small enough that both halves can lay on the rack when open), but full-sized ones won't.

Posted by
747 posts

Another vote for Travelpro. I have the soft sided, 2 wheeler and love it. I've had mine for over a decade now and it looks brand new! I always carry on and have never had a problem with the size.

Posted by
848 posts

We’ve had two of RS’s Ravena Rollers for 9 years now and they’ve been great. My only complaint is that if I over pack, the pull up handles get stuck. I think the fact that we mostly do carryon has added on to their longevity. It seems when we do check them that is when they get beat up. So next time I may go back to a TravelPro hard sided.

Posted by
331 posts

If you live near a Nordstrom Rack check them out as they often have Travelpro carry-on size bags at half price - around $125. I was in the downtown Seattle Rack on Sunday and they had several styles - including (I think) the maxlite, my personal favorite.

Posted by
44 posts

Wow! You all have such great ideas! Thank you so much for your suggestions & advice!

I really appreciate you! :)

  • Ronda
Posted by
4232 posts

Mardee, nope. It’s just different. It was inconvenient my first trip, but I have a system down now. My packing cubes work well on the side not enclosed by the mesh with zipper and the mesh side holds things like shoes and things not clothes.

I paid about $120 for my 21 inch expandable carry on but it looks like they are about $140 on Amazon right now.

Posted by
678 posts

I prefer two wheeled luggage. I think it rolls easier over cobblestones and rougher pavement. Airlines do not always treat baggage well and I have seen many a 4 wheeled bag coming off the conveyor belt with a wonky or dangling wheel. Wheels on two wheeled bags seemed to be better protected by the design of the bag. They are more set into the frame of the bag. I also like soft sided luggage as it is more pliable and flexible. Make sure to consider the weight and go as light as possible. And if you plan on traveling with carry on only, which many of us do, make sure your new bag fits sizing requirements. This is especially true on many European discount airlines, where size requirements are strict.

Posted by
6698 posts

Well, given the number of travelers who like their spinners (and the number of recs on this thread), I would question the above statement. 😊 I have never had a problem rolling my bag over cobblestones nor have I ever had my suitcase wheels get wonky or dangle (and I usually check my bag). FWIW, my last TravelPro lasted over 15 years. I finally gave it to my daughter a little over 3 years ago and she's now using it. I have a new one (the Maxlite) that I love.

Posted by
346 posts

We've been very disappointed with Travelpro. My husband purchased a 26 inch Maxlite 5 with two wheels from JCPenney in July of 2021. Last fall one of the feet broke when we were on a trip. He had only used the bag 3 or 4 times, but it was out of warranty. On their website they have a parts catalog, the needed part was in there, so I figured we just had to order the part and we'd be all set.

I contacted them and requested the part. They replied saying that it was unavailable, they didn't know when it would ever be available, but here's a discount on a new suitcase. The kicker is that they're still selling the identical suitcase. So presumably the part I need is available somewhere in their world or they wouldn't be able to build the suitcase.

I went back and forth with them multiple times but they wouldn't budge. Luckily my brother-in-law has a 3D printer and was able to create something close enough to replace the part. I would never buy another Travelpro suitcase.

Posted by
15380 posts

So presumably the part I need is available somewhere in their world or they wouldn't be able to build the suitcase.

They might not be making new suitcases but trying to sell their current inventory.

Posted by
5609 posts

I have a new Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rollaboard (2 wheeler). It replaced my Maxlite version 1 which is 14 years old. The old one still works fine but it is a bit beat up and weighs 2 lbs more than the newest version. When I got the new one, it was clear how they saved the 2 lbs. The new one has less robust zippers, a less durable fabric, the wheels aren’t as rugged, it doesn’t expand as much, and it is missing some of the features of the original one like real handles on the bottom and a zipout water bottle holder. I don’t expect it to last as long as the first one. Still, I love how light he new one is and it is really easy to pack.

The more expensive Travelpros (e.g., Platinum Elite) are definitely better made than the Maxlite but they are also several pounds heavier. You sacrifice some durability in exchange for a lighter weight.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you all so much for your advice & recommendations!

We spent all day going to several stores luggage shopping today. There are some really nice pieces out there, but ultimately we decided on TravelPro. After our trip, I'll mention how they held up in my travel report!

Thanks so much!

  • Ronda
Posted by
9733 posts

And, yes, 4 wheels are better than 2.

If that's your preference.

It's not empirically true, however.

However many wheels a person prefers on their suitcase is better than suitcases with more or fewer wheels.

Posted by
6698 posts

I wholeheartedly agree, Kim! I love my 4-wheeled bag, but will fight to the death someone else's right to prefer a 2-wheeled bag. Isn't that what the US was based on? No taxation without representation, liberty and justice for all, and the right to carry the bag of your choice. 😊

Posted by
206 posts

So glad I found this thread-thanks Ronda!

Mardee, I sprang for the Travelpro Maxlite 5 compact carry-on spinner. Several things sold me on it: weight of 5.1 pounds, 38L storage, soft sided, handle looks comfortable and sturdy, the color (whatever the item, it should be blue whenever possible😁) and the sale price. It will be my first spinner. My Ciao bag is too darn small for my upcoming trip.

Posted by
500 posts

Well, you all did it again! After following this post for a while, I broke down and bought the Travelpro Max Lite with 2 wheels. I got a few others off Amazon and ended up returning them because although I checked and rechecked the specifications before hitting purchase, when I actually had them in my house and measured them, it was so close that I didn't feel comfortable taking the chance (I've learned to fix the things I can fix in advance so I save all my worrying for things I can't fully control). I've got a trip planned next month, so I'm looking forward to the extra space it provides over the backpack I usually carryon.

Posted by
44 posts

Just sharing for those who are interested in the TravelPro, MaxLite 5...... Good for price comparing, if nothing else.

KOHLS has TravelPro, MaxLite 5, Softside luggage right now for 40% off.

Wheeled Tote is: $155.99,
Wheeled Underwater is: $179.99,
21" Carry On is: $203.99,
25" Spinner is: $263.99, and
29" Spinner is: $299.99

Online and in-store.

Posted by
106 posts

Thanks for all the recommendations. I’d been looking at the TravelPro Maxlite 5 online for a while. Price usually hovered around $150 on Amazon. Went to TJMaxx today and lo and behold, there it was, a 2 wheel roll aboard for $90! Two wheels is new to me, but I roll my 4 wheel on 2 wheels often. Non-black (a plus for me). Score!

Posted by
500 posts

Priscilla, I got mine on Amazon, but I’ll have to check the local discount stores before I take the tags off. I think mine was 144$.

Posted by
4232 posts

I have nothing more beneficial to add, but I do love my TravelPro MaxLite! $90 is a deal! However Kohl’s prices seem high.

I have also been delighted with the spinner aspect for the last 6-7 years. Sometimes I pull it on 2 wheels when necessary - I suspect this, more than anything else, may affect its longevity. But I traveled about half the year the last 2 years and mine is holding up just fine. I probably don’t need it to last for another 10 years before I am tired of it and want a new one. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I do have 2, that I alternate depending on length of trip: the 21” carry on expandable that I take on long trips and the 20” non expandable that goes on 2 weeks or shorter trips. When I am going to be gone for 2 months, I check so I don’t worry about the carry on measurement accuracy.

These are my first hard-sided and I wouldn’t argue hard vs soft, but I have had a couple of occasions where I was very glad I had my hard side in the rain. Not regularly enough that I would base a decision on that. Whether or not it protects contents more I don’t know, but it feels like it ought to.

And yes - anything blue gets bonus points! Ha!