Travel luggage is an investment for anyone who travels even just a few times per year, so choosing the best suitcase for travel is an important decision. You need something that’s sturdy, but also reasonably priced. The quickest way to put a damper on your vacation is to get to the baggage claim and find that your bag is torn to pieces.
While we always try to avoid checking a bag, it isn’t always possible, especially for families. Longer trips or trips with very young children will often require a checked bag, and that’s where we’re here to help!
Table of Contents
1.) Suitcase Comparison Chart - The Best Suitcases for Travel 2018
2.) What to Look For When Buying A New Suitcase
1.) Don't Go Too Large
2.) Weight Matters
3.) Wheeled Luggage - Four Wheels vs. Two
4.) Hardside vs. Softside Luggage
5.) Reviews vs. Price
3.) Reviews of the Best Suitcases for Travel
3.1) Delsey Helium Aero 29" Expandable Spinner Trolley Suitcase Review
3.2) Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 28″ Hardside Spinner Suitcase Review
3.3) Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 29" Spinner Suitcase Review
3.4) Travelpro Crew 11 Expandable 29″ Spinner Suitcase Review
3.5) Samsonite Omni PC Hardside 29" Spinner Suitcase Review
3.6) eBags eTech 2.0 Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel Suitcase Review
3.7) Samsonite Inova Hardside 30″ Spinner Suitcase Review
3.8) Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable 29″ Spinner Suitcase Review
3.9) Briggs & Riley Baseline 28″ Large Expandable Spinner Suitcase Review
3.10) Skyway Mirage Superlight 28" Expandable Suitcase Review
3.11) Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 28″ Spinner Suitcase Review
3.12) American Tourister iLite Max Softside 29″ Spinner Suitcase Review
3.13) Victorinox 29″ Spectra 2.0 Suitcase Review
3.14) SwissGear Sion 29″ Spinner Suitcase Review
4.) Bonus Picks
1.) American Tourister Disney Mickey Mouse 28" Softside Spinner
2.) American Tourister Disney Minnie Mouse 28" Softside Spinner
3.) eBags TLS Expandable 2pc Set
4.) Don't Forget the Packing Cubes!
With so many choices on the market, it’s a challenge to narrow it down. Size, color, wheels, materials – they’re all considerations. We’ve done the research for you by putting together this guide on how to buy a great suitcase and what to look for when you’re shopping.
Suitcase Comparison – The Best Suitcases for Travel (Updated for 2018!)
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What to Look For When Buying a New Suitcase
Don’t Go Larger Than You Really Need
When we’re talking about a suitcase, we generally mean something that you’ll have to check because it is too large to work as a carry-on. This means anything larger than ~22″ for US domestic flights or ~21″ for international flights. Suitcases generally start at around 25″ in height and can get to ~32″.
Each family’s needs will be different, but we generally recommend not going any larger than ~29″ if you can help it. Bags bigger than that can get heavy and unwieldy in a hurry. Also, you’ll tend to fill all the space whether you meant to or not. This might cause you to panic at the check-in counter when the agent informs you that your bag is overweight, and it’s going to cost you – big time. Like I’ve said before, you don’t want to be the family at the airport with your clothes strewn all over because your bags are too heavy.
Looking for the best carry-on luggage? Check out our in-depth comparison right here.
Weight is an important factor because it can mean the difference between smooth sailing at the airport and a nightmare that costs you way more than you thought. If you purchase a larger suitcase, it will be heavier when full. This can mean big trouble on your way home from vacation with all of your kids’ extra souvenirs and goodies.
Be realistic about how much space you’ll require. We recommend skewing towards a smaller size. Not only will this be easier to manage overall when you get out of the airport and are on your way, but it could also save you a lot of money in baggage fees.
Wheeled Luggage – Four Wheels vs. Two
Large suitcases come with either two or four wheels. The models with four wheels – or spinners – are able to stand upright on all four wheels and are extremely maneuverable. Drawbacks to this design are that the smaller wheels can be more fragile than other types, and your bag can roll away from you if you leave it on a slope or hill. Two-wheeled suitcases – rollers – are easier to keep stationary, but are less maneuverable. Again, this is a personal preference.
Four Wheel Spinners:
- Pros Very maneuverable
- Stable and won't tip over
- Can roll away on a slope if you're not paying attention
- Wheels protrude and can be damaged more easily
Two Wheel Rollers:
- Wheels tend to be sturdier because they don't rotate
- Wheels are less apt to get damaged on rougher terrain
- Not as easy to maneuver as spinners
- Can sometimes tip over, especially if overpacked or heavy
- Rolling luggage can be tricky in tight spaces like subways and public transit
Hardside Luggage vs. Soft Sided Suitcases
Suitcases are made from different materials, and there are pros and cons to each. Generally, the hard-sided polycarbonate suitcases will be heavier than their soft-sided counterparts. Many people don’t mind the extra weight of the hard-sided cases because it offers better protection. It’s a personal choice, and you should make the one that feels right for you. We have a soft-sided spinner and are fine with it. Let’s compare:
- Offer the best protection against damage
- Get scratched easily and show wear quickly
- Don't offer as much forgiveness towards overpacking (unless they have an expansion feature)
- Are usually lighter than hard-sided suitcases
- Are more forgiving to airline abuse
- The material can rip
- Not waterproof so it's vulnerable to sitting on a rainy tarmac before it's loaded.
Does Spending More Money Get You a Better Suitcase? Reviews vs. Price.
With our reviews, we’ve tried to find a good balance between quality and budget. We believe that you do get what you pay for, but we also believe in spending money on experiences rather than lots of stuff. Do you need the best luggage? No, but luggage is not a cheap item, and it’s important to get what you can reasonably afford.
As we were researching this article, we found that across most sites, there was a correlation between good reviews and suitcases in the $125-$350. However, we’ve included some outliers in our review because we think they represent an excellent value based on the amount of good reviews from Amazon, eBags, and other sites, or because of personal experience with luggage that we’ve owned.
Reviews of the Best Suitcases for 2018
Winner – Best Overall Value
Cheap luggage doesn’t have to mean inferior, and it’s why the Delsey Helium Aero is back on our list for 2018. Delsey is one of the biggest names in luggage, and they deliver quality suitcases and luggage at a great price. Just take a look at the glowing online reviews and you’ll know.
This hardside luggage is 100% polycarbonate, but can expand by 2 inches which is really nice to have when you realize you’ve picked up too many souvenirs from your epic family vacation. The Delsey also has a sleek design with a finish that helps protect it from scratches and wear. The integrated TSA luggage locks help keep things safe and secure while the fully lined interior is equipped with dividers and web straps to help you stay organized and keep everything in place. With a great price and solid features, the Delsey is our pick for overall best travel suitcase.
Check here for the latest prices on the Delsey Helium Aero.
Winner: Best Suitcase to Stand Out From the Crowd
814 Amazon reviews and a 4.5 star rating can’t be wrong which is why the Samsonite Winfield 2 hardside spinner is back on our list for 2018. The price is right also and we think it’s a great value for a hardside. We love all the awesome colors it comes in and also the fact that you can get something that stands out from the crowd without getting something ‘designer’ or gaudy. The ‘brushed’ finish also helps hide scratches. This Samsonite comes with a 10 year warranty, which adds value and peace of mind.
Features include 4 wheels for easy maneuverability, interior pockets with a full-zip divider to keep everything organized, over-sized zippers, and a TSA-approved lock. If you’re looking for a great value from a brand that you trust and are looking for something more fun than just another black suitcase, then give this one a shot. It has great reviews (and a lot of them), and will be a great addition to your gear.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Spinner.
Winner: Best Lightweight Luggage and our Top Pick
The Maxlite 4 returns to our roundup this year, and for good reason – it gets a lot of great reviews and people love it. The honeycomb framing system used in its construction makes it super-light. At a tiny 8.5 lbs, the Travelpro Maxlite collection is some of the best lightweight luggage on the market.
Other features include a water-resistant coating on the fabric, 2 inches of expansion room, and high-tensile zipper pulls designed to last.
This lightweight suitcase comes in three different colors, has an affordable price, and is made from rugged polyester which will make this a great choice for any traveling family. Travelpro also stands behind what they sell with one of the best warranties around.
Check here for the latest prices on the Travelpro Maxlite 4 29″ Expandable Spinner.
Trusted by flight crews and consumers alike, the Travelpro Crew collections brings smart design and durability that earn top reviews year after year. The Maxlite collection was on our list for 2017 and this year we’re adding the Crew collection because of their stellar reviews and the limited lifetime warranty against defects that’s rare in the industry these days.
Features include a locking handle with three stops, 2 inches of extra expansion, magnetic locking wheels that keep it rolling straight in any direction, and or course an excellent warranty. Interior pockets for wet items and full length zippered doors with straps will keep things tidy.
If you pay attention, there’s a lot of Travelpro gear moving around the airports these days. With 5-star Amazon reviews and a company that stands behind what they sell, it’s no surprise – Travelpro makes some of the best luggage out on the market today.
There are two things that stand out about the Samsonite Omni – its rugged good looks and all the great colors that it comes in. It’s a nice change of pace from the ho-hum black and silver options out there.
It’s is a 100% polycarbonate design that also has Samsonite’s “Micro-diamond’ texture which supposed to help minimize the appearance of scratches and will keep your suitcase looking newer longer. It also comes with a full-zip interior, a side-mounted TSA lock, and will expand a bit in case you end up with too many souvenirs. Hundreds of Amazon buyers love this hardside luggage, so it makes our list for 2018.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner.
Winner: Best Suitcase for the Gear Junkie
We love eBags and own several of their bags. One of the reasons is their incredible attention to detail and the innovative designs in their luggage. The eTech is no different and offers some really great features like the signature orange interior making things easy to see and find, as well as the adjustable compartments that keep your gear from sliding down toward the wheels.
This rolling suitcase has pockets everywhere which is great when you’re on the move. This bag also features the longest telescoping handle in the industry – 46″ – and is great if you’re tired of running over your own heels all the time. The wheels on the eBags duffels and bags are awesome and roll true and smooth. Great zippers, a great size, and quality construction round out this bag. We think it’s an excellent choice.
Check here for the latest prices on the eBags eTech 2.0 Mother Lode 29″ Wheeled Duffel.
Winner: Sleekest Design for hardside luggage
The Samsonite Inova is a great looking suitcase and definitely scores points for sleekness and design. The Inova comes highly rated and is made of 100% Makrolon® polycarbonate – Samsonite’s lightest material – which is designed to resist impact damage. The unique finish helps hide scratches to keep things looking nice.
Dual-caster wheels, an integrated TSA lock, and a handle that fits flush to the suitcase are nice, well-designed features. The Inova is a smart design by Samsonite and will keep your family traveling in style for many years. The Inova spinner stays on our list for 2018.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Inova 30″ Hardside Spinner.
If you’re on a tight budget, this may be the suitcase for you. As of this writing, it has over a hundred reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating – all this for less than $100. It’s a little bit heaver and not quite as sleek as other models in our guide, but it will get the job done.
Inside you’ll find the standard features: mesh pockets to keep things organized, cross straps to keep things in place, and built-in expansion if you need it. The polyester material won’t get scratched up, and the padded handles will help you get it in and out of the car at the airport. Easy to access exterior pockets give you place to quickly stash smaller items in a hurry.
Check here for the latest prices on the Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner.
Winner: Absolute Best Warranty Out There
This suitcase is our exception on the high end, as this is not a cheap piece of luggage. The reason? Briggs & Riley has the best warranty out there. It’s good for as long you own it and even covers damage caused by the airline.
This is a bag that we own, and we love it. We decided to treat it as an investment, saved our pennies, and never looked back. We love the double wheels that roll just as smooth now as the day we bought it. The handle has four adjustable heights so you get it just where you need it. The aluminum frame saves weight and the reinforced corners and top-quality fabric make sure this bag lasts. This is a great piece of luggage, and if your budget allows, we highly recommend it.
Update: We still own it and it’s still awesome!
Check here for the latest prices on the Briggs & Riley Baseline Large Expandable Spinner.
The Skyway Luggage Co. is new to our list for 2018. They started in Seattle, WA, and have been making great luggage for a long time. The Mirage Superlight is a soft-side spinner made of durable ripstop polyester, has two padded carry handles, and a multi-stop pull handle.
This suitcase also features shoe pockets, a full length mesh pocket, and expands 2.5 inches if you souvenir shopping gets a little out of control. At only 8.5 lbs, it’s one of the lightest on the list and is remarkable for a suitcase of this size. With over 250 Amazon reviews and a 4.5 average rating, we think this is one to pay attention to – especially since the price is lower than many on our list as well.
Winner: Best personality
Kenneth Cole earned a spot on last year’s list with their Reverb model, but we’ve replaced it this year with the Out of Bounds spinner. It’s lighter at only 9.6 lbs, stylish, and comes in a cool array of colors (hot pink anyone?) to fit every personality. With over 500 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.5 stars, we think this is one to consider for sure.
We like the sleek, simple design which seems to be a hallmark of Kenneth Cole luggage. The outside is durable with reinforced corners which is a nice touch. Inside, you’ll find the usual suspects – cross straps to keep everything in place and a full zip garment closure. Small molded feet on the side are handy if you want to set it down and not have it roll away from you. While there is a lot of value here, note that there isn’t much in the way of warranty information we could find but it does seem to come with a limited lifetime warranty like most other manufacturers.
The iLite Max from American Tourister is one of the most affordable in our list which is nice for budget-minded families. The black is actually the most expensive, so you can save even more by going with one of the patterns or colors. Even so, this luggage is fairly lightweight and comes with some nice features.
The smooth-rolling ‘airflow’ wheels will help get your family around the airport or to your hotel without a fuss, and it also expands to fit in those extras from your vacation. External zip pockets allow easy access to stuff last-minute items. All this for around 10 lbs. of weight is pretty nice. American Tourister also offers a 10-year limited warranty on their bags. Based on Amazon reviews and a great price, we feel this bag offers good value and so it makes our list this year.
Victorinox is known for making excellent luggage and is one of the best luggage brands out there. This Spectra 2.0 is a sharp spinner with some great features like dual-caster wheels, matte finish polycarbonate that resists scratches and blemishes, corner guards, and zipper bumpers to keep your bag looking its best.
On the inside, this bag has a zippered lining that stretches for easier packing, a removable id tag, and TSA-approved locks, making it easy for security to open and relock your bag. Another great feature of this bag is the Swiss Tracker™ Bag Tracking Program. This allows you to track your bag anywhere in the world and get reunited should you get separated from your bag. Awesome.
Check here for the latest prices on the Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29″.
SwissGear is a very popular brand for the budget conscience traveler, and the reviews for this particular suitcase are very good. At around 10 lbs, this is a lightweight bag relative to some others. It’s soft-sided which will offer a bit of flex when packing, but it also expands 2 inches to give you a little bit of extra room.
Inside, this bag is nice and roomy, and the detachable toiletry bag is a convenient feature that goes straight from the bathroom to your bag with just a couple of snaps. If you don’t want to use it, just remove it for a bit of extra space. With a very reasonable price, this bag is a solid pick for the budget traveler who needs a quality bag at a great price.
Check here for the latest prices on the SwissGear Sion 29″ Suitcase.
Best bags for Disney Families
Headed off to an awesome Disney vacation? These Mickey and Minnie suitcases will impress the kids but also offer the same great features and value that American Tourister is known for. Now the Disney magic can start before you even get to the airport!
Check here for the latest prices on the American Tourister Disney Mickey Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner.
Check here for the latest prices on the American Tourister Disney Minnie Mouse 28″ Softside Spinner.
Best Value Luggage Set for Families
We own two of the 21″ TLS carry-on bags (review here), and we love them. They have long handles for attaching other backpacks and bags to, roll easily, and are easy for the kids to manage. We think they are one of the best values out there, and their smart design will have you wanting a set for the entire family. For families, consider luggage sets to get a better deal.
Check here for the latest prices on the eBags TLS Expandable 2pc Set.
Don’t Forget the Packing Cubes!
Packing cubes are essential to our family’s packing success! Each member of our family gets a set in their own color, and we pack a few empty ones to keep dirty clothes in. Here are some popular ones to choose from.
Time to Go!
We hope you’ve found what you’re looking for and that we’ve helped you narrow down your choices to get a great piece of luggage! If you have any questions, let us know or drop us a line on our social channels below.
Safe Travels, Everyone!
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