The Last Suitcase You Will Ever Buy
Crossing this intersection in Moldova, one of the wheels on my suitcase fell into 4 pieces, ball-bearings rolling in every direction. I was running late to catch my train to Bucharest, and the cars began to honk their horns at me.
This wasn't supposed to happen.
I had bought a $250 suitcase that had promised it would last me a lifetime. Instead, it had only lasted a year. Should I have bought a $60 suitcase instead?
My travels continued, absent a wheel, through Romania, Texas, Philadelphia, Spain and Nova Scotia before I finally returned to home in DC. Luckily, when I purchased my Briggs and Riley carry-on I had registered it with the attached serial number, promising me a lifetime warranty. The closest authorized repair center was about a 30 minutes commute from my home, but still accessible by public transit.
Although the staff at "Expert Shoe & Luggage Repair" were very grumpy, the repair was completed in 48 hours and did not cost me a dime.
Reunited with my suitcase, and all four of it's wheels, I gave some thought to the situation. Was spending lots of money for a name-brand suitcase with lifetime warranty worth it?
In my case, it was. Although it would have been easier for me to purchase a replacement suitcase from one of the "value" outlets near the Chișinău, Moldova train station, and then perhaps continue to purchase replacement suitcases as needed for years to come, I have definitely saved money in the long run.
Now, Briggs and Riley offers the option to mail the replacement wheels to your house for free (with a $10 handling fee)! This avoids the trip to the repair center, and I've stocked up on extra wheels. If I'm heading on an epic adventure I may even toss an extra wheel in my suitcase just in case.
However if you only use your suitcase a few times a year, then it might make more sense for you purchase an inexpensive one.
Two very practical tips:
- If you're going to purchase a Briggs and Riley, Tumi, or other high-end suitcase with a lifetime warranty, buy it at Nordstrom Rack to save hundreds of dollars. I was able to purchase my $459 carry-on for $250. You will still receive the lifetime warranty as long as you register your suitcase within a month or so of purchase.
- You should consider whether a rolling suitcase is the right option for your travel needs. A road-warrior friend of mine who must often travel with several suits recommends the Sky Roll Garment Bag instead of a rolling suitcase. I've also felt silly in the past when dragging my rolling suitcase into a canoe, hoisting it on top of an elephant, and precariously tying it onto a tuk-tuk. Backpacks or hiking packs may be the right answer in many of these situations. :-)
It was dumb to bring a rolling suitcase along in these situations.