Update to: Luggage Woes and a Solution

I posted this blog in 2012 before we left for a seven week trip to France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. I thought I should share our experience with these suitcases. It was pretty much a disaster…no matter how we rearranged clothes and shoes in the bags, they continually tipped over. We struggled with them through train stations and along cobbled streets. When we got home, we returned them to Macy’s for a full refund. This next trip we’ll be using our older TravelPro two wheel bags. Those have been a success on many domestic trips, so fingers crossed they’ll do the job for our seven-week trip to France and England this spring!

Tonight, I am checking off some of the last tasks on our agenda before our flight to Paris in about sixty hours and the start of a seven week vacation in Europe. Seems like we always have more to do than time available, but we are not yet in panic mode. The fact that we finished about 75% of our packing helps a lot. The suitcase thing had us stymied for a while. With Bill’s torn meniscus still healing, it seemed prudent to travel with lighter luggage and less clothes. Our friends see us as very light travelers, but a long autumn into winter vacation makes maintaining that reputation a challenge. Winter clothes are bulky and we need a few extra items for the expected cold weather, such as snow boots, scarves, gloves, hats and long underwear all of which take up space and add pounds.

So, we started by purchasing light weight hard-sided polycarbonate bags by one of the big names in the luggage business. We hoped we could get away with two pieces of luggage, a twenty-inch carry-on bag and a checked twenty-five inch bag. The idea was to split our clothes between the two so that in the unlikely event that the large checked bag was lost in route we’d still have things to change into when we arrive in Bordeaux on Tuesday.

These first bags were super light-weight, but fully packed they felt flimsy. The two halves of the larger bag sagged away from each other straining the zipper.  The handles on both bags were too far from the center which felt awkward and the pull handle on the smaller bag was balky at times, not always locking in place securely.

Our itinerary includes five rail trips and I expect to be the one hefting the luggage aboard trains at most stations. Loaded with only Bill’s clothing the larger bag weighed in at twenty-three pounds. By the time he packed his snow boots and I added my clothes and shoes we figured the bag would weigh twice that. There is no way I can or want to lift more than thirty pounds, so between the flaw in our basic concept and the unsatisfactory construction of the two bags, we decided to return them and come up with another solution.

Back to the store and we headed for our favorite brand, good old Travelpro. They now offer a very lightweight soft-sided spinner. At twenty-one inches, the WalkAbout Spinners are a tad large for carry-on luggage, but we planned to check at least one bag anyway so we are okay with checking two. We grabbed a couple of these plus a two-wheeled carry-on tote to hold the essentials for our first night. Based on where we are now with packing, it looks like these three bags plus a nylon soft tote for scarves, hats and gloves will do the job for us.

The Travelpro bags are heavier than the polycarbonate hard-sided luggage, but they are really sturdy which is the reason we have stayed with this brand for so many years. The material is durable and water repellant, the wheels seem robust and one very nice feature is that there are three handles, one on the side, another on the top and a third on the bottom. I expect that will make handling the luggage much easier.

Note that I am not compensated in any way for offering my opinion on Travelpro luggage, but I am very happy to share my experience with these bags!


One thought on “Update to: Luggage Woes and a Solution

  1. Hey, Catherine, how interesting and relevant! We had to hire young boys to carry our luggage up and down the six flights of stairs in Paris–and of course when we got home (5 flights up), we had to hire a guy, too. It adds up. And the biggest suitcase, we stopped opening that toward the end of our trip; it was too difficult to close! Anyway, nice meeting you and I hope to read everything you have posted. From home, Jane Heil


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