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My name is Heath. I'm a recovering politico embracing the wilderness years, splitting my time between Dallas and DC. These are my travel hacks.

The Last Suitcase You Will Ever Buy

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.

How to Plan A Trip Around the World

How to Plan A Trip Around the World