How to Pick a Suitcase?

Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage

by and - last updated on 4/3/2024

When we decided to replace a hard-sided clam-shell suitcase, we did quite a bit of research as to what features would be nice to have, we researched what the most effective size of luggage, as well as the thought that we wanted luggage that was ruggedly built and something that would remain usable for years to come.

As avid travelers, we’ve gone through several pieces of luggage; we've tried various brands and styles & types including; soft-sided, hard-sided, backpack style, clamshell-style, etc. Some were better than others, some had good features and over time, we began to see what kinds of features we found most useful.

When it comes to choosing the perfect suitcase, several crucial factors should influence your decision. Consider the nature of your travels, how often you travel, and your personal preferences, in addition to the key bullet points outlined below.

Quality Construction: Over time, we've discovered the critical role of robust construction in withstanding the rigors of travel. From torn-off wheels to handles and punctures, durable luggage is key to preventing damage during your journeys.

Storage and Organization: Efficient storage is key when traveling. In our experience, the ability to access essentials easily without unpacking the entire suitcase is crucial, especially during frequent hotel changes. Look for luggage with built-in features like a bathroom bag and wet storage compartments to handle potential leaks. Consider designs that include hanging spaces for clothes, even if you don't always bring garments that require hanging. Having designated areas for dirty clothes or items you plan to wear in the next few days can significantly enhance accessibility. We've learned that overly spacious suitcases without built-in organization can lead to a chaotic mess during travel.

Hard Side vs Soft Side: There are different views on hard-sided vs soft-sided luggage. We had a hard-sided, clam-shell style bag for a few years. It held up well, however, our major complaint was due to the “split” construction. The bag zipped down the middle which opened into two large clam-shell sides. This was extremely unhandy because it didn’t fit on luggage stands. In cramped European accommodations, this design proved especially impractical. Stuff would also spill out of whichever side was on top when we’d open it up. Only one side had a zipper compartment. Due to these issues, we went back to soft-sided luggage that easily fits on luggage stands and allows accessibility from a zipper at the top of the suitcase.

Carry-on vs Check-In Luggage: What size luggage should you go with? Choosing the right size of luggage matters, and manufacturers clearly distinguish between carry-on and check-in options. It's crucial to note that a 25-inch length typically falls into the check-in category due to size constraints in overhead storage compartments on most aircraft. Stick to a 23-inch or smaller bag for a carry-on. Some travelers prioritize the convenience of carry-on luggage, avoiding the wait at baggage pick-up and steering clear of checked bag fees. On the other hand, individuals like us find the prospect of navigating airports with luggage, ensuring compliance with security regulations, and competing for overhead storage space stressful. For our longer trips spanning 2 to 3 weeks, requiring at least a week's worth of clothing, we often opt for checked bags. Celeste's stuff can fit snugly in a smaller carry-on, but Terry's clothes and shoes require a larger space.

Price: The cost of luggage is undeniably a crucial factor. If you're a frequent traveler seeking a durable, long-lasting piece, investing a bit more is often justified by the value it provides over the years. It becomes a wise and enduring investment. On the other hand, if your travel is infrequent and you simply need something functional for occasional use, opting for a more budget-friendly option may suit your needs.

Which Size is Right for You? Consider the following
  • Avoid waiting for luggage upon arrival.
  • Save on checked baggage fees.
  • Comfortable with carrying your bag through the airport and security.
  • Strong enough to stow your bag in the overhead compartment.
 Checked Bag
  • Don't mind waiting for your bag upon arrival.
  • Prefer not to worry about liquids or other security restrictions.
  • Need the space for a week-long trip's worth of clothes and shoes.
  • Don't mind paying for the convenience of a checked bag.
  • Enjoy the freedom of dropping off your bag without lugging it around the airport.

OUR PICK: We picked the Travelpro Platinum Elite 25 Suitcase and love it! 

The Travelpro Platinum Elite 25" Check-In Spinner Luggage in Rich Espresso | Travel Suitcase emerged as our top choice when we sought a replacement for our hard-sided large checked bag. It not only met but exceeded our selection parameters, offering essential features and additional bonus features!

Our selection criteria:
  • Soft-sided
  • Checked bag
  • Must fit on luggage rack in hotel rooms
  • Quality construction
  • Spinner wheels with sturdy extension handle
  • Separate storage for liquids and other bathroom items
  • Large enough for a week or two of clothes without going over the 50 lb weight limit restriction

In addition to ticking all the boxes, the Travelpro Platinum Elite 25 came with some impressive additional features:

  • Built-in, fold-out suiter that keeps clothes wrinkle-free during travel
  • Integrated TSA lock
  • USB Port
  • Stylish and good-looking with multiple color options

The robust construction features high-density ballistic nylon fabric with dura guard coating that helps to prevent stains, abrasions, and even resists water. It has corner armor and skid guards, ensuring a shield against daily wear and tear.

Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage
Some of the selection criteria that we utilized for new luggage

The wheels are a standout feature, with durable wheel housings that are visibly robust and designed for smooth navigation over various terrains like escalators, sidewalks, etc. The smoothness of the wheels was noticeably different than our old suitcase and we observed its exceptional rolling capability in both flat and tilted modes. For perspective, these are 50mm wheels within an 8-wheel spinner set, surpassing many others in this price range.

During our recent 23-day trip through Europe, the Travelpro luggage performed admirably, surviving frequent check-ins, bumpy taxi rides, and cobblestone paths without a scratch. Compared to our last five bags, its construction has truly impressed us.

Perfectly sized for our needs, it strikes a balance between spaciousness and preventing overpacking. With the 50lb weight limits imposed by most airlines before having to pay additional fees it’s desirable to stay under the weight limit and this suitcase makes it fairly easy to stay within the limit. The dimensions, including wheels and handles, are H: 28 in. x W: 18.50 in. x D: 11.75 in., weighing 9.8 lbs with a volume of 97 L.

This suitcase has a great set of storage options, including a removable very large wet pocket, perfect for shampoos and other bathroom articles, and a built-in fold-out suiter which provides a nice way to place clothes on hangers in their own compartment. In addition, there is another pocket along the back of the base for keeping private items tucked away and two mesh bags that snap together forming both a nice separator and a way to secure items in the middle of the main compartment. You could consider using the space above the separator for things you need over the next few days, while the lower part could be for items you don’t need every day or even to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones.

Notably, Travelpro stands behind the luggage's durability with a lifetime warranty. The limited warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship that negatively impact the functional performance of the product, including:

  • Wheels
  • Zippers
  • Extension handles
  • Carrying handles

If you register your product within 120 days they will enhance the limited warranty by: Covering shipping costs to ship it to one of their repair facilities and covering the cost of repair for damage caused by an airline or other common carrier. They also offer a 100 day trial. If the luggage fails to meet your expectations for any reason, you can return it for a full refund.

While Travelpro may not be the cheapest option, if you're in the market for quality luggage that stands the test of time, it's worth considering. We Love ours and plan to get the 21-inch version for Celeste soon!

 More Info for Travelpro Luggage 

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