If you are over 50 with time on your hands, good health and some disposable income, you are likely to want to travel. One of the most important decisions you have to make is about what luggage to choose. Make the wrong choice and it can put a damper on your entire experience. The best travel suitcases for seniors are designed to be as light as possible in weight without sacrificing strength. The types of handles and wheels used nowadays make them far easier to control than ever before.
One of the first things you should consider is choosing a small suitcase. This does mean that you have to be smarter when packing but the advantage is that managing your luggage is so much easier. When you choose a bigger suitcase, the tendency is to fill up the space just because it’s there. I will never forget the sight of my mother of 82 leaving for a few months in the UK on a visit to my siblings with an enormous suitcase in tow. She admitted when she returned that it was a big mistake.
Of course the size you choose will depend on factors such as the length and type of your trip. Many people prefer to use a suitcase that is small enough to work as a carry-on to avoid delays that come with checking in. Even if you find it difficult to lift a suitcase into an overhead locker, in-cabin flight staff are happy to assist. I personally prefer to use a check-in suitcase as I do find it difficult to hoist luggage into the overhead locker and I don’t like to wait for the staff to assist me.
Everything is called “lightweight” today but it is important to check on the exact weight. Even if you have a rolling suitcase, it still has to be carried from time to time and the lighter the better. The weight should ideally come mostly from the clothes inside and not from the suitcase itself. Experts suggest that an empty suitcase should not weigh more than 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms) and many of them fall into this category today.
Even among lightweight suitcases, some have more capacity than others. An expandable one is a good option. Packing cubes help you to organize the space – a set of four cubes – slim, small, medium and large helps to keep your items organized. You can pack similar items together, making it easier to find what you need without having to scratch through your whole suitcase.
If you are using old luggage that you have had for many years, you are not taking advantage of the most recent technology. Rolling suitcases are being made that make maneuvering of a suitcase more efficient than ever before. This may make the difference between spending your whole holiday nursing injuries and handling your luggage with ease and confidence.
Quality of materials
It does not make sense to compromise on the quality of the materials used when it comes to buying a suitcase.
There is not a single best material for a suitcase. They are made of all kinds of materials like ballistic nylon, polyester, aluminium, leather and polycarbonate. Each material has its pros and cons. For example, leather is very durable but it is heavy in weight. Blends or “poly” materials are not as durable and polyester is often used in less expensive ranges. The choice between hard and soft-sided luggage depends largely on preference today because hard-sided suitcases are lighter in weight than ever before and soft-sided ones are more durable. The top fabric choices for soft-sided bags are ballistic nylon and cordura. Aluminium and polycarbonate are the most popular materials used for hard-sided cases.
A telescoping suitcase with an extendable handle allows you to wheel your suitcase with one hand. The telescoping handle can be extended to different lengths and locked in place. The maximum extension must be right for your height so your back does not suffer strain.
Your suitcase should also have easy carry handles on the top or side of the bag, allowing you to lift it whichever way you prefer. A comfortable handle will reduce stress on wrists and arms.
For decades, suitcases have had small wheels that used the same technology as in-line skates. They are fixed to the side of the case and roll in one direction. These wheels allow you to pull your suitcase along behind you.
Newer models have four wheels that move in all directions rather than just backwards and forwards. These are called ‘spinners’ and they allow you to wheel your suitcase alongside you. They are easier to maneuver, especially in tight spaces as they don’t have to be tipped and pulled along behind you. Some people dislike spinners because they say they glide away from you on an incline and aren’t suitable for any surfaces other than in airports. However, the best spinners do not have these problems.
When it comes to wheels, reliability is the most important consideration. You don’t want your wheels to break and you want them to be strong enough to wheel over uneven surfaces if necessary.
It helps to have a suitcase that stands out so you can easily identify it. A bright color can save you much confusion at the carousel. However, if you prefer a more classic color, like black or blue, it’s easy enough to attach a brightly colored tag. Even a brightly colored scarf tied around a handle can help you identify your suitcase.
An outside pocket can carry a light jacket or sweatshirt and even a folding travel umbrella. This means you will be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather.
The most popular luggage zippers today are coil zippers which are flexible and smooth to operate but still strong. They consist of two coils on each side, stitched onto the zipper tape and the teeth are formed by the winding of the coils. The most durable zippers are chain zippers that have individual locking teeth fused onto the zipper tape but they are more expensive and not as flexible. A closed-end zipper that opens up at the opposite ends and comes together in the middle is the most practical type as you can still use the suitcase even if one zipper breaks.
Cost obviously plays an important part in your decision but it is not worth buying a cheap suitcase and struggling with a broken zipper or wonky wheels. Travel can be hard on your luggage. On the other hand, there is a happy medium and it’s not necessary to spend a fortune either. A good quality suitcase will probably cost from $250 to $300 and it’s not really necessary to pay more than that.
5 of the best
Figuring out which is the best luggage to buy can be very difficult with countless styles, sizes, and prices to choose from. I have rounded up some options for you.
Best check-in suitcase
Wirecutter.com researched 26 pieces of check-in luggage, tested five finalists and found that the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 25″ Express Spinner Suiter is the best check-in luggage for most travelers. This 25-inch model offers plenty of room without going over airline weight limits, looks good,comes with a warranty, and is considered extremely reliable by most travelers. Its extension handle has three stops and its self-aligning magnetic dual wheel spinners ensure that the suitcase rolls in a straight line.
For air travel, many travelers are opting to limit their baggage to what they are allowed to bring on board. Good Housekeeping tested 14 polycarbonate suitcases made to fit in overhead lockers. They found that the Hartman Vigor Carry On Spinner was the best all-around performer. This suitcase is lightweight, easy to roll, durable and it can contain about a week’s worth of clothes if you pack lightly.
Based on their survey of more than 3400 subscribers, Consumer Reports found that durability was a top concern for consumers. They also found that most people were much happier with four wheels than two wheels. Surprisingly, some of the top brands did not come out on top on this survey. Two brands that performed well in all categories were Eagle Creek and Briggs and Riley.
The Briggs & Riley Torq International Carry-On Wide Body Spinner Suitcase is 100% polycarbonate so it is durable. It rolls well and the handle extends and retracts easily. The inside has zippered pockets that have webbing and clips to hold down your clothes. This suitcase is a little on the pricey side but according to customer reviews, it’s well worth the extra cost.
Eagle Creek’s EC Lync System 29 Convertible Luggage Suitcase is versatile, ultralight and durable. Essentially a roller bag, it converts into a backpack and breaks down flat for quick storage. It comes with a shoulder strap so it can also be used as a duffel. Durable, ultralight and water resistant fabric is used and it has a lightweight aluminium frame. It also has a No Matter What Warranty that covers the lifetime Warranty promise plus the added insurance of repair or replacement due to product failure during the product lifetime, regardless of the cause.
IT luggage World’s Lightest Tritex 4 Wheel Spinner Carry-on is ultra lightweight at 4.3 pounds. Its constructed from high density Tritex fabric and features a durable fiberglass frame with a sturdy locking handle system. It comes with 4 easy-glide wheels, practical zip pockets, and a 2 inch expander for increased packing capacity.
With the lightweight options available, there is no need for you to worry about stress on wrists, backs and shoulders. These lightweight suitcases are also far sturdier than the older versions and stand up well to the stress of travel. Handles are more comfortable than ever and four wheels offer great maneuverability. You can travel to your heart’s content, even if you’re well into your senior years.