Welcome to The Ultimate Guide to the best luggage for international travel. Prepare yourself for spring and summer travel with a new suitcase. Luggage makes a great gift for Mother’s Day and Graduation.
Choose from the top-rated wheeled uprights, spinner luggage and light-as-a-feather hardside suitcases.
Find international luggage that is convenient and compliant for rail and air travel. Read on for some things to consider, and buy the best luggage for traveling abroad.
Travelpro Luggage Review – Recommended Checked Luggage, 29 inch
The Travelpro Maxlite 2 29 inches Expandable Spinner Suitcase
Travelpro is the luggage brand that airline piiots and flight attendants use — and those people know the ins and outs of luggage!
An expandable bag like this one allows you some extra room (1.5 inches) for things you might bring back from your trip. The Travelpro Maxlite line a telescoping handle with 2 different heights, spinner wheels for multi-way motion, and a handy full-length lid pocket for stashing last-minute items.
Victorinox Werks Traveler Lightweight Luggage – Recommended Lightweight 27 inch Luggage
Victorinox Werks Traveler 4.0 luggage is 30% lighter than typical wheeled bags and engineered to provide 30% more packing space than competitors. The expandable interior gives you an extra 2 inches of packing space when you need it.
This bag has a swivel monopole design, where the top handle swivels to face parallel to your body as you pull it. You can drop your arm to the side in a natural position to pull the bag, rather than having to twist your arm so that your palm faces forward. It also features inline skate wheels (rollerblade wheels), which are the best wheels for luggage.
All Victorinox Werks luggage comes with their Carry with Confidence Guarantee, a lifetime warranty that covers airline carrier mishandling
Available in a Variety of Easy-to-Spot Colors
Victorinox Luggage Werks Traveler 4.0 Wt 27 BagVictorinox Luggage Werks Traveler 4.0 Wt 27-inch Dual Caster Bag
For those who prefer spinners, you’ll want the “Dual Caster” Victorinox Werks bags. The 4 spinner wheels prevent tipping and make handling heavy loads easier because you can roll it upright — you don’t have to drag the weight of the bag behind you. The telescoping handle has three positions to fit travelers of different heights.
Weight: 10.8 lbs.
Extras: Expandable, Telescoping handle, removable garment bag
Eagle Creek Tarmac 25Eagle Creek Tarmac 25
Get the most out of your free checked bag with the roomy Tarmac 25. It has a generous 5100-5600 cubic inch capacity (depending on if you utilize the expandable feature for 15% more packing space). Oversize wheels ensure a smooth roll.
Eagle Creek is known for packing organization, and this bag has lots of features aimed to keep you organized. There’s a quick access front pocket for small items, a full-length top pocket, a packing compartment in the top inner lid, 2 mesh compartments inside the lid, two compression wings, and a piggyback strap to attach other bags.
All bags in the “Tarmac” line come with Eagle Creek’s much-touted “No Matter What Warranty,” which covers luggage repairs and replacements for the life of the bag (10 years) free of charge, even if that damage was caused by the airline carrier.
Available in Black, Cyprus Green, and Red Clay
Best Hard Sided Luggage for International Travel – Recommended Hard Luggage
Hardside luggage is a popular choice with travelers for a several reasons:
1. They provide superior protection. They’re made of polycarbonate (same material used to make bulletproof glass), or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), or a combination of both, which protect your contents from impact. They also offer better protection from rain than softside bags
2. They weigh less. Hard luggage is extremely lightweight, so you’ll be able to pack more (or heavier) things in them without going over the 50 lb. limit. If you tend to overpack, consider hardside luggage.
3. Flat, hard luggage (like the Tumi and Hartmann suitcases below) is stackable, which is handy for putting them on airport trolleys.
Delsey Helium Shadow Hardside Spinner, 25 InchDelsey Helium Shadow Hardside 4 Wheel Spinner, 25 Inch
Here’s a budget hardside bag by Delsey. It’s a sturdy spinner bag that comes in several different sizes if you want to make it a set.
Weight: 9.5 lbs.
Extras: Spinner wheels, integrated TSA locks
Here are the top-quality hardside luggage brands that travelers rave about. (Note that none of these have a warranty that covers transport damage by airline carriers.)
The primary advantage of hardside luggage is its light weight. The light weight of the bag will help you stay under the 50 lb. weight limit imposed by the airlines. You can pack more stuff and still be under the limit.
Hardside luggage typically comes with spinner wheels. The 4 wheels make it easier to maneuver in a crowd or on public transportation. They’re also better for moving heavy loads, because you don’t have to drag the weight behind you.
The telescoping handle construction and placement leaves you more capacity inside the bag for your belongings.
Hardshell luggage offers better protection of your contents from rain / moisture.
Hard-side luggage doesn’t give, so it can’t be fit in with other luggage (in overhead compartments, on luggage racks, etc.)
This type of luggage doesn’t have any external pockets or compartments (and no luggage tag slot).
The clamshell design means you have to lay the bag flat to open it. (No stuffing in last-minute items or purchases while the bag is upright.)
Though scratch-resistant, hardside luggage is more susceptible to visible scratches and scrapes than softside bags.
How to Buy Luggage: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Size Luggage to Buy?
Most major airlines only allow you one free checked bag (when traveling internationally), so choose a size large enough to hold everything you want to take, while keeping the weight under 50 lbs. to avoid the excess baggage fee. If you’re a light packer, a 25 or 26-inch bag will do for a 10-day trip (assuming you’ll repeat outfits). If you’re a heavy packer, or are taking a longer trip, a 29″ bag might be a better choice. Those travelers should seriously consider hardside suitcases, which are much lighter than their softside counterparts and less likely to put them over the 50 lb. limit.
Travel experts say to pack the same amount, whether your trip is for just a few days or for a few weeks. You want something that’s not so large that it can’t be easily loaded into taxis, placed on train luggage racks, put in a train station locker, or taken onto public transportation. The rule of thumb is to only take what you can carry yourself.
What is the most durable luggage?
Polyester luggage is lightweight, but it doesn’t hold up as well. I don’t recommend it for bags that you have to check, which will be subjected to rough airline baggage handling. It’s cheaper, but you really don’t save money in the long run because you have replace your luggage more often.
Instead, choose luggage made of ballistic nylon, which is a a high-quality, durable material. You’ll pay a little more, but your luggage will last.
How long does a suitcase last?
This ain’t your grandmother’s workhorse luggage — nothing is made quite the way it used to be. That said, the life expectancy of a sturdy bag nowadays is 10 years.
Why don’t you recommend luggage from Samsonite or Tumi?
You might be familiar with the Samsonite name, but for the quality, today’s Samsonite luggage isn’t the best value for the price, They have issues with handles, zippers, and wheels. Most of the damage is caused by airlines, which Samsonite’s warranty doesn’t cover.
If you’re considering Samsonite just for price, rest assured that you can get better performance out of a Travelpro bag (designed with frequent travelers in mind) at the same price point.
Samsonite’s luxury Black Label luggage is a better buy for the money, particularly their award-winning, hardshell, Cosmolite line, which is made in Europe.
As for TUMI, they got rid of their Lifetime Warranty and didn’t even bother to grandfather bags that were previously purchased with that warranty. (I find that incredibly shady.) So now, you’re left paying $500 for a bag they won’t even stand behind. For that kind of money, you’d be better off buying a Briggs & Riley bag, which is a favorite with frequent flyers because it lasts and it DOES come with a Lifetime Warranty.
What do the bag sizes mean? (26 inch, 29 inch, etc.)
Those numbers refer to the height of the bag, as measured from the top handle (in the retracted position) to the floor (including wheels). Your actual packing space will be less than whatever height the bag is listed as. Most manufacturers list the height of the entire bag, because they know that’s the measurement customers need to know for air travel — particularly for carry ons.