Choosing The Right Luggage

One very important factor when travelling a lot as I do, is the right luggage. My backpack is fine when I’m doing the south east asia thing, jumping on and off boats, buses, trains etc, trekking and so on.

But when it comes to hitting an urban centre where you just know that you’re gonna be:
a) bringing a lot of stuff with you and
b) buying a lot of stuff there, then it’s the big guns to which you turn.

Hard luggage. Spinner trolley cases.

Leopard luggage

Back in 2011 when I was looking around for new luggage, here is a list of traits I looked for:

Size

  • It’s got to be BIG! When I hit Japan, I hit the shops, and boy, there’d better be room for all of it.
  • I also tend to take a lot of clothes, shoes and accessories to Tokyo, US etc, as I know I’ll be doing a lot of socialising and clubbing.
  • Hence I look for the biggest I can find – and the one I ended up with is 71cm x 51 x 34 – with 151 litre capacity
  • You may not take as much stuff as me, so only get one that suits your average trip’s needs.

Expandability

  • Not only has it got to be big to begin with; it has to be able to get bigger .
  • You WILL be carrying more back than you brought when you arrived, so it’s a basic principle really. My last case and this new one,  had zippers that expanded the size – this one by 7.6cm – which gives me 25% more.

Lightness

  • This is a tough one, as it’s a trade off with size. Some luggage is the size you want but ends up being too heavy.
  • Remember, many airlines only let you carry 20kg (though most will let you go a little over).
  • Mine is 5kg, which is probably the maximum I’d go for.

Durability

  • I like hard-shelled luggage because it’s TOUGH! It can take the knocks, and your stuff inside is safer too.
  • It does depend what you’re going to pack, but I often take hats, for example, that are a bit delicate, and if I stuff them with soft clothing and place them in the centre of the bag, then the hard shell generally protects them from being dented and squashed. This saves me from carrying them on in my hand luggage.
  • Oh, and check the warranty – mine is 10 years.

Flexibility

  • The case needs to be able to swing in all directions – and that means 4 wheels, that rotate fully – aka a “spinner”.
  • If the wheels only move forward, there’ll be times when you’ll get stuck and have to lift it. There are times when you need to swerve (like in Shinjuku or Shibuya crowds) and the 360 movement is invaluable here if you don’t want to get stuck mid-crossing.
  • The case should be able to move sideways, ie not just on the narrow side but roll easily on the wide side as well.
  • It should roll easily whether just on 2 wheels or 4 wheels.
  • It should have a strong handle for those times when you DO need to lift it, such as getting onto the train to/from the aiport.

Call me shallow about this next one but…

Good looks

  • You want luggage you can be proud of, and that expresses you, right?
  • You also want luggage that is distinctive..so you can spot it at 20 paces when it looms into view on the carousel.
  • I’ve got a thing for leopard, so when I spotted my new one in the store, it was love at first sight. Only, it was a bit more than I wanted to pay, which leads me to…

Price/Value

  • I do think it’s worth paying for good luggage, if you travel a lot. Like any staple item of clothing or shoes, if you work out how many wears you’ll get out of it, the price can become a lot more reasonable.
  • That said, when you spot your prey, bide your time, as it may just go on sale and then you can POUNCE!!
  • In my case, it was $349 to start with, but after several months it went down to $245, which is when I nabbed it.

So which model did I choose?

The  Dallas 1141 Limited Edition Metallic Gold Leopard hard shelled spinner. Yes, the big daddy in the range you see below.

 

Gold-leopard-luggage-range

And here’s a peek of the inside:

Luggage-inside

LuggageopenThe side view shows how it expands:

Luggagethin Luggageexpanded

Now sadly, I can’t see it for sale anywhere anymore, but I’m very glad I got it. The stick handle did snap off a year or so ago…but I just took it to a luggage repair shop in Mascot (Sydney, Australia), to get a new one. If you have luggage you love, it’s worth it!! I could possibly have sent it somewhere as it was under warranty, but I wanted it back within a week.

I’ve now had it for over 4 years, and while it’s battered and bruised, it’s still going strong. I think of it as my old friend. And today I’ve started packing for the next trip, which sees me head to Hawaii, Portland, New York and Tokyo, so ole Leopard is going to be travelling again soon!.

What properties have you looked for in your luggage? Or did you just go with one that had the look you like?  Is there a brand you’d recommend?

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