My all-time most horrific travel memory was getting off the plane in Vietnam.
The airport in Vietnam very loosely resembles a renovated shed… ok warehouse but still, it was hot crowded and very basic, there were hundreds of people waiting around the baggage carousels and the noise was nearly deafening. I was on my own because I was meeting hubby at the hotel (we came from different directions) and really now that I think about it I cringe. I had this lovely little sun dress on, white … can you imagine and my carry on bag was one of those giant purses. It looked ever so chic but to be honest, I only had 1 hand free and a dress on that I couldn't bend over in. I bet you have this lovely picture in your head now ....
So my suitcase comes around and I go to grab it … one handed of course and what happens …. The handle pulls off into my hand. Oh yes, imagine it now, thousands of people one small opening and I missed it, dodging through people lugging my oversized carry on, I was desperate to get it before it goes back into the hole …. I miss it.
So find myself another little hole in the crowd and wait for a second try. Of course the second option is actually picking it up not from the top of the suitcase, because that handle is now at the feet of a sea of bodies but on the side of the suitcase.
One handle breakage I can totally understand but at the point the second one also came off in my hand I have to admit …. I started to panic. How was I supposed to get this 20kg suitcase off the baggage carousel? Remember at this point I also had hold of my carry on luggage that looked great but totally died in the practicality stakes because I couldn’t even get the thing over my shoulder, and there was no way I was going to put it down. Obviously a very traumatic start to the holiday but even worse ... I had to carry this bloody suitcase around the the rest of my two week trip varying between dreading and cursing the bloody thing every time we had to move destinations.
Now I’m sure you realise at this point my suitcase was woefully ill suited to international travel, what people don't realise is that it can actually damage your enjoyment of your holiday.
So what to look for in a suitcase. Here is a picture of mine and I agonised over the following before buying.
Brand - Obviously it doesn't need to be designer. Actually although designer looks amazing I personally would be so worried about people damaging it "in transit" I wouldn't want to take it away so .... my tip NOT designer but also NOT cheap. Anything that has a 10 year warranty would be my preference. This means its going to be well made.
Wheels - Suitcases are heavy and what you need to remember is that its going to be a hell of alot heavier at the end of your trip so try try try to find something with wheels. 4 wheels that swivel is the best option, it means instead of lifting any weight you are just pushing and trust me, with airports getting bigger and bigger you will thank me later.
Size - it is all to easy to busy a suitcase that is too small and then just say you will buy another smaller one later if you need it. Firstly, try walking through an airport with two pieces of luggage and carry on .... not cool. Spend the money up front on something bigger so you can fill it if you need. While we are on size also try and get the lightest option you can, the less it ways the more you can carry!
Hard or Soft - People swear by hard suitcases and in some ways I agree but to be honest, there will come a time when you have to try and squeeze a suitcase or two into the boot of a car too small and the difference between hard and soft could be 20 kilo's on your lap. So for me soft is best but make sure the material is hardy enough to stand up to the rigours of travel.
Handles - Pay attention to the handles. Sounds silly but these little things will need to be capable of lifting potentially very heavy weights and if they fail ... you will not be a happy little chicken! Personally I like the handles actually incorporated into the design instead of a separate piece - these have minimal potential to fail which is what you really want.
Price - The thing is a good quality suitcase doesn't have to be really expensive. Get organise, plan ahead and look out for sales. I got my suitcase 6 months prior to my last trip, it was a 50% off sale which saved my hundreds of dollars. Ultimately only buy what you can afford but try to realise when putting together a budget that a suitcase should last for more than one holiday .... it should last you at least 10 years and it should actually be suitable to all sorts of holidays while still being pretty.