Grit Blogs > Travel With Marilyn

Luggage to Withstand Airline Handling

Marilyn JonesI travel a lot — usually one international destination a month. So I am always on the lookout for the very best in packing tools: the right luggage, packing cubes, RFID totes, and so forth.

My beautiful, hard-sided luggage was, shall we say, a little mistreated by several airlines this past year. With each trip, little by little, cracks began to appear until there was a hole in one corner. Not good.

Planning for a trip to South Africa, I was in need of a new piece of luggage. Not only had my last suitcase become a victim, the suitcase I was using before it had turned up on the baggage claim conveyor belt with a big dent in it the very first time I used it.

What’s positive about hard-sided luggage is obvious: it protects what’s inside, including your precious souvenirs. I love to shop in foreign lands and often fill every nook and cranny with my purchases.

So what’s the answer? I’ve seen rips and tears in soft-sided luggage as well, and the protection isn’t there, so I decided to do some research before deciding on the next piece of luggage.

My conclusion? It’s about the “bones” of the piece — material and zippers. I know that may sound too simple, but there are vast differences in all three. After reading a lot of reviews and descriptions, I found three I felt would serve me well:

Briggs & Riley Transcend 24" Expandable Upright

suitcase 1
Photo courtesy Briggs & Riley

The North Face Longhaul 26"

suitcase 2
Photo courtesy The North Face

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior AWD 26

suitcase 1
Photo courtesy Eagle Creek

All three are excellent choices, but I chose the Gear Warrior AWD 26, mainly because my Eagle Creek backpack has served me well, price and design. When it arrived I knew I had made a wise choice. It is made out of the same durable material as my backpack and has all the features I was looking for.

Although I chose a soft-sided piece, I packed all my South African purchases in between clothing to the center of the luggage or carried items in my carry-on. Everything arrived home safe and sound. And so did my suitcase!

If you travel by air, it is worth the research to find a good quality piece that will serve your needs. Once you check that bag, it’s out of your control!