If you’ve read this blog for any period of time you know that my advice is to always buy the best carry-on you can afford. There are relatively affordable brands in different price points, but if you’re going to be on the road a lot then you need a bag that can take the abuse.
Today, my advice is a little different.
I’ve had the zipper on bags literally break apart on a trip, requiring duct tape and a prayer to get my stuff home. So I don’t take this lightly! But there are times that buying a less expensive suitcase is the more prudent option.
When to spend as much money as you can afford comfortably
If you’re upgrading your suitcase to get a new one similar to what you currently have, don’t be afraid to spend money. Most business travelers plan to carry-on as much as possible, so generally they’ll be getting the same size. If you’re just trying to add more features don’t be afraid to spend money.
When to buy a cheaper suitcase
If you are changing something major about your suitcase, buy a less expensive version first. For example, if you’ve always carried-on and now you’d like a larger suitcase you can check–don’t spend $400 unless you know you’re comfortable with the new size! A reader recently dropped almost $500 on a new 26-inch suitcase for a two-month trip. She thought surely it would be the right size, but it was just too big. Now she doesn’t want to use it for her next long trip.
Here is a 28” suitcase for $100 similar to one I got a few years ago. It’s only gone on a handful of trips but it’s held up fine. I get wanting a high-quality suitcase that you’re going to use frequently, but this is a good way to check out a different size first.
Another major change–moving from soft to hard sided or vice versa. There are plenty of suitcases in the $100 range that will give you a good taste of a hardside (like the reader favorite Delsey)–don’t spend $450 the first time out!
When it could go either way
One scenario that could go either way is if you’re changing to a spinner from a two-wheel suitcase. Almost everyone I’ve talked to has been thrilled with their spinner, but there are a few readers who end up going to back to their old suitcase.
The most important thing is to do as much as you can to simulate your travel activities before your actual trip. Fill up your suitcase, wheel it around your house, bump it up and down stairs, try lifting it, etc. Obviously there is no way to get the complete experience without traveling, but it may help you realize what you bought is not going to be a good fit–before the return period is over.
As always when buying a suitcase, there are a number of things to consider. But spending the most money up front is not always the best plan.
Readers, what do you think? Is it good to buy a cheaper suitcase first to test out a major change? Or should you go all-in and hope for the best?
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