The Perils Of Cheap Luggage

At Lifehacker, the adage “you get what you pay for” isn’t one that gets endorsed too often, since in the software world there are so many counter-examples, from Firefox to Gmail to However, when it comes to luggage there’s rather more truth to the statement.I was reminded off this today while struggling through Southern Cross station in Melbourne dragging a large, cheap suitcase. Given that I’d only paid $40 for it earlier in the year, I probably should be grateful that it had wheels at all.
But instead I was cursing the poor design, which meant that despite being carefully and evenly packed, it basically had no balance whatsoever, and would start wobbling perilously at the slightest bump or obstruction. I’d needed the extra capacity to cope with schlepping around Christmas presents, but I found myself wishing for my regular Travelpro bag, which does a much better job of righting itself when moving at speed and has handles that are padded and don’t wreck my hands.
I’ve only got myself to blame, of course; I’m a cheapskate. The sole reason my natural stinginess was overridden when I purchased the Travelpro was that my previous semi-cheap suitcase fell to pieces in the boot of a taxi in San Francisco, and I didn’t have time to shop around before acquiring a replacement. I wasn’t pleased with the $300+ price tag at the time, but it’s proved to be a good investment, and one that’s coping well with my insane traveller lifestyle.
Mind you, price isn’t the sole guarantee of quality. For years, I’ve used the official Qantas carry-on bag, which is a model of good organisation. However, despite a $175 price tag, it’s not a model of robustness. After 12 months, the current one has already snapped its carry-on strap and two zippers are looking perilous. If I’m going to have to buy a new one, I guess the January sales are as good a place to start as any. Advice and recommendations welcome, though if I have to pay more than $200 I’ll probably break out in a minor cold sweat.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman is still cursing himself for forgetting to pack his laptop power cord this morning. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.

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