In September 2022, I bought this teal/green coloured suitcase from Walmart for $59. Since then, I have travelled more than 20,000 miles – by plane, train and automobile. This suitcase has held up AMAZINGLY.
Why is this important? A few reasons:
First, I spent the majority of my twenties travelling for work. When travelling for work, we had luggage that work provided us because we needed our suitcases identifiable and kept in groups when we were travelling through airports. Those suitcases we were given were premium. Sometimes we had Samsonite, and sometimes we had other brands. They weren’t Louis Vuitton, but they definitely weren’t cheap.
The suitcases we were using were awful. Not only did they seem to have awkward sizing on the inside, but they were constantly breaking down. We would lose wheels, or zippers would break, and the locks wouldn’t unlock. There were so many issues that came up, especially while we were in the middle of a trip. Numerous times we had to go out and buy a suitcase for someone while we were on the trip because the work-branded suitcase wasn’t going to be able to make it home. Essentially, I’ve seen how “the expensive ones” hold up.
Second, this cheap suitcase holding up so well is important to me because travel is expensive, and can at times be incredibly overwhelming when you think about costs adding up. A lot of people would like to make you believe that if you don’t have something expensive, you’re getting crap and it’s not going to work. Right now, a lot of people are pushing a brand called ‘Beis’, which, aesthetically, looks beautiful. Functionally, it looks nice. From a cost perspective, it’s not something I can justify. The carryon alone is $266, and the full-sized suitcases are $400 Canadian. While I’m sure they’re very nice, why would anyone want to spend $400 on a suitcase if they don’t have to?
With my history of travel teaching me what to look for and what to avoid, I went to Walmart needing a suitcase, and what I got was remarkable. Since purchasing this suitcase, I’ve travelled more than 20,000 miles. I’ve been to four countries on two continents, boarded a dozen or more planes, been on road trips, and even went on one train trip. I’ve been to the ocean, the mountains, the city and the forest. This suitcase has seen a lot of land in a short period of time.
While it’s a little dirty in the photos – I took these photos after unloading it, before I washed it down (all airports are dirty and at the very least you should wipe down the outside of your suitcase with a damp cloth) – it’s still looking pretty, pretty good.
The wheels are showing wear, but they’re definitely not wearing down. They wheel through the airport like a dream. There are a few scuff marks on the outside, which I know that some people hate, but I actually love it because it shows I make use of my suitcase. The zippers are holding up nicely – I have had zero issues with the zippers.
The inside of the suitcase, as you can tell, is pretty basic. There’s a mesh zipper on one-side, and the buckle stop on the other. The mesh side is pretty much just so that your suitcase doesn’t explode when you open it after getting to your destination. There’s only one true pocket, so to speak. But I’ve realized that, because I use packing cubes, I don’t need pockets inside. That’s what my packing cubes are for.
I’m thoroughly impressed with how well this suitcase has held up and how good it looks after how much I’ve travelled in the past six months. To me, it serves as a glaring reminder that you don’t need expensive, you just need functional. At least that’s one of my rules for life.
If you’re ever in the need of luggage, here’s what I recommend (as someone who’s been to 34 countries on four continents):
- Choose a hard-side suitcase. They hold up better when getting bashed around, because whether they’re being thrown into the bottom of the plane, or thrown into the trunk of a car, they’re going to get bashed around.
- Choose a suitcase with two, clear distinct sides/pockets. There are hard-sided suitcases that offer just one pocket. I don’t recommend those. It’s easier to organize your stuff if there are two distinct sides to the suitcase.
- Unless you’re transporting your grandmother’s tea set via suitcase, you do not need an aluminum suitcase. While I can understand the appeal of one’s suitcase being able to survive a literal bomb, aluminum suitcases are bulky, heavy and extremely overpriced. They’re really not necessary for the average traveller, and a giant waste of money. Don’t get me wrong – that Away suitcase is beautiful – it’s just not practical.
- Always get a spinner. Spinners are suitcases with four wheels (if you didn’t already know – which I am assuming most do) You want four wheels. It’s just easier. Wherever you’re going, however you’re travelling, you’re going to be thankful for having four wheels.
- Don’t buy a black suitcase. Everyone buys a black suitcase, and frankly, when yours is coming down the conveyor belt in a crowded airport, you want to spot it immediately. You don’t want to have to inspect/examine whether or not a suitcase might be yours. Colourful suitcases come in clutch when you really need them to.
- You do not need a suitcase with a built in lock. While this is a nice feature, suitcase prices can shoot up $40+ just for having the built in suitcase lock. When you can purchase a lock for $7.99 on Amazon, why the heck can’t you use that? Then you can switch the lock between your suitcase, and your backpack or other travel goods for if you’re just escaping for a weekend excursion, for example.
- If you are going to invest in an expensive suitcase, also invest in the warranty. Normally, I’m not a fan of warranties – but suitcases are a good thing to get warranties for if you travel often. Since you’re not always the one handling your stuff, the warranty helps you to know that if it does break, or if something does happen, you can get a fix or replacement. Nothing sounds worse to me than spending $1,000 on a suitcase and having the wheel break off and the company refusing to fix it because you didn’t buy the stupid $15 warranty.
- You needn’t purchase an expensive option if you don’t want to. You can get some really good, really quality suitcases from Walmart. As mentioned above, mine was $59 and has held up more than 20,000 miles so far. What’s important when you’re shopping is that you look for quality. Inspect those zippers. Are they double stitched? How tough is the hard-side? How are those wheels built into the bottom? Does the handle feel sturdy? I can tell you with certainty, if you go to Walmart and start taking suitcases off the shelf, start with the handles and see how smoothly the handles come out, how tightly they’re built into the suitcase. You can feel quality versus crap with the handles alone.
- Try before you buy. You might think this sounds dumb, but put that suitcase on the floor and wheel it around. See how easily it does spin. See how comfortable the handle feels in your hands. So if it maneuvers properly.
If you need a new suitcase, don’t look at price as a marker of quality. There are $800 suitcases that perform like crap and aren’t functional. There are $50 suitcases that perform amazingly and hold up wonderfully. Think of what you need, and how often you’re going to travel. Buy something built for your lifestyle.
Primary Picture: Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash
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