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The 5 Best Suitcases For Traveling In 2021

Choosing the best suitcases for traveling involves weighing things such as weight, durability, and style. These travel suitcases top the list.

The best suitcases for traveling

It goes without saying that travel suitacases are an important part of my life. In fact, after dozens of countries and thousands of road trips and flights, choosing the best suitcases for traveling has become one of the most important decisions I make.

Luggage can be very expensive. It can also be very cheap. Sometimes you get what you pay for, and other times, you might be surprised. So, if you’re looking for the best suitcases for travel, how do you decide?

Well, I’m here to help.

Whether you’re looking for suitcases for international travel, or your sticking to luggage for domestic travel, we have tested and reviewed countless products to help you choose something that is going to last you for many adventures without breaking the bank.

So if you’re planning some international family travel and are searching for the best new travel luggage, this is for you. I’ve put in the research to help you narrow down your choices for the best suitcases for traveling this year.

And if you need more help planning incredible travel experiences, head over to our family travel resource page where you’ll find everything from packing lists to travel tips.

Tips For Choosing The Best Travel Suitcase

Man sitting on a boat traveling with suitcases
Traveling with suitcases by boat in the Philippines

My family tends to travel in countless different styles. Everything from road trips to flights, weekend getaways, and more. So when I choose the best luggage for travel, I look for practicality, durability, and the best value for the money.

While there can be many considerations for choosing a great luggage brand, it’s also easy to narrow those down to the most important factors to consider when choosing a suitcase for travel.

  • Weight: The less your luggage weighs, the more you can put in it without going over airplane load limits.
  • Shell: Is the luggage a hard shell or soft shell? This can make a difference in both durability and packing amounts.
  • Wheels: Two wheels or four wheels
  • Style: We all want our luggage to look great, but even more importantly, we don’t want it to look like everyone else’s so it gets picked up by the wrong person at the luggage carousel.
  • Price: A great travel suitcase shouldn’t break the bank. But it also shouldn’t be so cheap that you wonder if it’s going to survive the journey.

If you’re a fashionista who opts for Louis Vuitton or Dolce and Gabbana suitcases, you’ve probably stumbled onto the wrong article. And if you’re looking for the cheapest suitcase for travel, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.

But, if you’re looking for an excellent quality suitcase for travel that will last you many trips, look great, and still allow you to afford that over-water bungalow in the Maldives, you’re in the right place!

The Best Suitcases For Traveling

You can read a little further down for all of the ranking info that we put into choosing the best suitacases for traveling. But for those of you who just want to know which are the best suitcases to buy, here is our breakdown.

We’ll start with this table to give you the outline of the products we chose and below that you’ll find why we chose them as our best travel suitcases this year.

Here is my shortlist of the 10 best suitcases for international travel (or domestic) and the best suitcase brands.

Delsey Helium suitcase for travel

Weight: 12.5 lbs

Hard Shell

TSA Lock: Yes

Durability: 5/5

Wheels: Spinner

Weight: 12.7 lbs

Hard Shell

TSA Lock: Yes

Durability: 5/5

Wheels: Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 3 travel luggage

Weight: 9. 8 lbs

Soft Shell

TSA Lock: Yes

Durability: 4/5

Wheels: Spinner

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 suitcases for traveling

Weight: 10.98 lbs

Hard Shell

TSA Lock: Yes

Durability: 5/5

Wheels: Spinner

Delsey Helium Aero 29″

Delsey Helium suitcase for travel

Offering one of the lightest family suitcase designs on the market, the Desley Helium Pro 29″ has consistently ranked among our favorite suitcases for travel.

You’ll find this one in our family travel packing list as well as many other resources thanks to its great design, fun, bright colors, and durable build.

Features:

  • 100% polycarbonate
  • ultra-lightweight and durable 
  • Integrated laptop sleeve
  • 2 zippered mesh pockets for accessories
  • Double spinner wheels for smooth movement
  • Integrated 3 dial TSA combination lock, self-repairing zippers
  • Recessed “one-button” locking handle system with industrial-grade aluminum tubes 

Samsonite Evoa Spinner Large

There’s a lot of great reasons why I love the Samsonite Evoa Spinner. This luggage makes our best suitcases for traveling list thanks to its super lightweight, ultra-stylish design and colors that help it stand out from the crowd. And its novel approach to internal compartments helps make packing easy.

Samsonite is a tried and tested brand that continually delivers quality luggage that offers great affordability with the excellent build quality. It’s a tad heavier than other models, but for families, it also offers added room for packing that I feel is worth the weight.

Features:

  •  Constructed of durable polycarbonate, this collection is built to last
  •  Aero-Trac suspension, dual Spinner wheels with shock-absorbing design for smooth and comfortable rolling
  •  The adjustable handle allows you to find the right height for your comfort
  •  Flush-mounted TSA combination lock and Anti-theft zippers provide additional peace of mind when checking belongings
  •  Expands for added packing capacity
  • TSA lock ensures security while traveling

Travelpro Maxlite 3 30

Travelpro Maxlite 3 travel luggage

Although I’ve found that hard shell luggage tends to make the best suitcases for travel, the TravelPro Maxlite 3 offers some exciting design choices that cemented its position on this list.

The honeycomb frame design offers tremendous strength at an exceptionally lightweight and the expandability of the soft-sided material mean that this luggage is flexible enough to meet most packing needs.

Features:

  • 100% Polyester
  • 4-wheel spinners wheels rotate smoothly 360 degrees
  • Airline-grade aluminum handle locks in 2 positions for height adjustments
  • Honeycomb frame system provides lightweight strength
  • Full-length interior lid pocket, side accessory pocket, and adjustable hold-down straps 

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29 Luggage

Victorinox Spectra 2.0 suitcases for traveling

Victorinox has been a staple of the travel luggage scene for what seems like forever. And, like Samsonite, they know how to deliver. Their new Spectra 2.0 line takes what they learned from the Victorinox Spectra series and improves on it substantially.

The interior pockets are well laid out with higher quality zips and compartments. And the entire luggage is lighter and more manoeverable than the first iteration.

Features:

  • Covered by the global 10-year limited warranty
  • 18.5 inch weight x 29.6 inch height x 10.6 inch depth
  • 8.8 lbs.
  • 3-stop adjustable handle
  • Stretch mesh divider wall
  • Capacity: 73 L

Ricardo Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive Large

Ricardo Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive Suitcases for travelling

Ricardo Beverly Hills has modified their polucarbonate hard shell to be one of the toughest and most scratch-resistant of any hard shell travel luggage. The unique trianglulated tubes in the handles are also designed for increase strength.

And while the inside is tough, the elegant insides of this luggage are soft-touch and classy including faux-leather accents and trim. The intelligent design makes any packing experience a joy thanks to it’s large zip pockets on the divider.

Features:

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • scratch and wear resistant
  • Protective polypropylene corner guards at key stress points
  • Effortlessly push your spinner upright with the curved handle 
  • Silent spinner wheels specially engineered to be smooth and silent

Choosing The Right Travel Suitcase For The Right Situations

Every travel scenario has its own unique packing needs. And choosing the best suitcase that can cover the widest possible scenarios will help you choose the perfect suitcase for your needs.

Choosing A Suitcase for plane travel

  • Know the weight limits of the airlines you fly with
  • Know the size limits
  • Be sure you can comfortably lift it in and out of your vehicle or taxi for commutes

Choosing A Luggage For Road Trips

Using a suitcase for road trips is a great way to help maximize space in your vehicle. Suitcases tend to stack well and help you make the most of the space you have.

  • Make sure your luggage fits comfortable in your trunk/boot
  • Ensure you can lift and manage the luggage safely
  • Consider a hard shell for the best stacking

Choosing a Suitcase for Cruise Ships

Cruising tends to offer the most flexible luggage needs as there is rarely weight limits associated with it (so long as you aren’t flying to the port city).

  • Choose hard shell luggage that can handle the weight when stacked in the boat
  • Choose luggage that can fit comfortably in the ship’s cabin knowing that these spaces are usually quite compact.

Choosing The Right Size For Travel Luggage

When it comes to choosing the best luggage for travel, size is a key component. And the size of luggage you choose will depend upon a lot of factors. In truth, going big isn’t always the best option. But, going too small can also be a problem.

As a family of 4, whenever possible, we like to combine all of our gear into one luggage. This helps us keep organized and reduce the number of bags that we need to juggle while traveling.

However, if you are traveling alone, as a couple, or as a smaller or larger family, these needs might change.

Travel suitcases tend to come in sizes that range from 18″ to 30″. The larger you get, the more you can put in them. Unfortunately, the more you put in them, the more likely you’ll be to go over weight limits.

Sometimes it’s better to go with two 25-28″ luggage than to roll with one 30″ that checks in overweight.

How To Properly Measure A Suitcase

Most domestic airlines have restrictions for the size of carry-on luggage. Knowing these limits can save you time, frustration, and money when checking in.

Although these limits can vary by airline, most follow this rule:

22 inches (22″x14″x9″) with an outside size that must not exceed 45 linear inches. This means that combining the length + width + height (including handles and wheels) would be 22″ + 14″ + 9″ = 45 linear inches.

And remember, just because your bag fits the size limit, doesn’t mean it also fits the weight limit. This can vary by packing.

Checked-in luggage rarely has a size limit. Although, bags larger than 30″ tend to be declared “oversized luggage”. This might cost extra on some airlines, and for most, it means waiting longer to get your bag after you’ve landed.

What Features To Look For On A Check-In Luggage

After deciding on the best luggage size for your travels, it’s time to look at the features you’ll want in order to make your travel experience as comfortable and convenient as possible.

Luggage Wheels: Two Or Four

The days of carrying a heavy luggage through long airport terminals is, thankfully, long behind us. Nearly all luggage these days includes wheels. And in recent years, the rise of luggage with 4 wheels (or spinners) has made our lives even easier.

Dual Wheel Suitcases (Rolling Luggage)

Dual wheel suitcases generally have wheels that are recessed into the luggage. These tend to be stronger and shorter than spinners allowing for more internal luggage space. However, the wheels only spin in one directly, which means you have to support the weight of the luggage while pulling them.

Four Wheel Suitcases (Spinners)

Spinners are suitcases with four wheels that each rotate independently of each other. This means that you can have the suitcase resting upright which removes the need for you to support the weight. They tend to be ergonomic and easy to manoever as well.

Spinners, while convenient, also run the risk of breaking as the wheels are far more exposed. The bags also have a tendency to roll away if they’re placed on an incline such as a ramp or a driveway.

Hard Shell vs Soft Shell Suitcases

There are a lot of great pros and some cons for both hard and soft shell luggage. And choosing the right one for your needs can mean the difference between a long-lasting product, and one you have to replace every few years.

Soft Shell Suitcase

Soft shell suitcases are usually lighter and more versatile than hard shell luggage. The malleable outer body means you can squeeze and shape them if you need to push them into tight places and allow them to bulge if you packed a bit tight.

However, they are not as sturdy as hard shells and don’t protect the content inside. This is very important if you have breakables within your lugage. They are also not as weatherproof and are prone to rips and tears.

Hard shell Suitcase

Hard shell suitcases tend to be my go-to for most luggage situations. They are stronger and better-able to protect their contents. They can be sat upon, and they stack easily on top of each other.

However, hardshell suitcases aren’t as flexible, so if you are someone who overpacks, hard shell luggage will not be as forgiving. They also don’t have outside pockets, so if you like to keep things in your luggage with easy access, you’re probably out of luck.

Suitcase Handles

Handles are one of the most important, but also the most overlooked feature on luggage. Most purchasers tend to take them for granted as “all being the same” But in truth, a good handle can make or break a luggage.

I recommend choosing a luggage that has a handle long enough for you to pull it comfortably. I’m 6’3 and my wife is 5’0, so we like to choose a luggage that has a long, telescoping handle with multiple position points.

I also use my handles to hold my laptop bag when traveling, so choosing a luggage that has a narrow-enough handle that you can slip things over-top of it is also very useful. A two-post handle also adds to stability and the least likely chance that items hung on it will “swing-around” and dangle behind the suitcase.

Weight

As airlines add more and more restrictions to travel, choosing the lightest luggage for traveling is more important than ever. But a light luggage does more than just help you pack more, it can also reduce the strain on your body during those, often-strenuous, commutes.

When we choose the best suitcases for travel, weight is always at the top of our mind. I recommend choosing a wheeled suitcase that weighs no more than 8 lbs for those traveling with 3 or fewer people. If you’re traveling with 4, try to keep the luggage weight under 10 lbs unless you want to use multiple bags.

Warranty

The best luggage brands usually back up their product with an excellent warranty. If a company stands behind their product, it’s usually something that can be trusted.

Suitcases take a lot of abuse. That abuse doesn’t just come from the luggage hold. If you’ve seen the maze of contraptions that your bag goes through from check-in to plane, you’ll know it’s the stuff of nightmares.

The best suitcase brands have excellent warranties or guarantees. And they’ll replace your luggage if you have issues.

Color

If you’ve ever been waiting at a luggage carousel and had a hard time telling your luggage apart from every other one there, I feel you. I like to choose a brightly-colored luggage that stands out from the crowd so there is no doubt about which one I’m picking up.

If you choose a generic black suitcase, my heart goes out to you. And please, don’t choose a white suitcase. One flight, and it will be a grey suitcase. They look great in the store, but not so much after a little traveling.

Weatherproofing

I’ve had a softshell suitcase sit in hurricane-level rain for 45-minutes on the tarmac in the Philippines. You can guarantee that everything inside it was soaked to the core. I’ve also had a suitcase that was beneath someone else’s. Their wine bottle broke and soaked and stained my suitcase and my clothes.

I highly recommend choosing a suitcase that can handle the elements.

Durability

Along with weatherproofing, it’s good if your luggage is up to the challenge of airports and travel. A well-built and durable suitcase can mean the difference between catching a flight and missing one.

I’ve seen it all. Handles that broke, wheels that snap off, luggage torn open on sharp posts. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive to replace. Choose a good-quality luggage that stands behind its brand.

Price

I’m sure you’ve had the same thoughts as me when looking up luggage. “Those prices are bonkers!”. Luggage has some very strange price points. But, if you look carefully, you can find that perfect balance between price and quality.

The best suitcases don’t need to cost a thousand dollars. But, they shouldn’t be so cheap that you are second-guessing the material that they’re made of. Choosing a luxury brand is great for fashion. But it also makes you a target for thieves.

In my opinion, a piece of luggage is a tool. A suitcase is something that needs to fit your needs. I love style as much as anyone, but when it comes to the best suitcase for travel, I want something that is going to do the job and do it well.

For this article, we’ve chosen suitcases that fall between $100 and $400, which is the sweet spot where quality meets style.

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