Diamonds are forever, luggage is not. It is a fact that luggage owners, especially those who travel frequently, must accept. The time to replace your good old and dependable travel bags will definitely come. Even the sturdiest of bags has to be put into retirement one day. What remains uncertain is when that time will come.
The lifespan of luggage depends on many factors such as the type of materials used, severity of use, and the way airline personnel handle the bags in airports. Therefore, making even a guess as to how many months or years a piece of luggage will last is unrealistic.
There are a few tell-tale signs that signal it may be time for you to replace your tired and weary luggage. Regardless of the age of your luggage as soon as you notice these signs, it may be time to say goodbye to your old travel companion and look for new bags.
So what are those tell-tale signs you should be looking for?
The Plane’s Overhead Compartment
It may seem a silly motivation to replace luggage in relatively good condition simply because it doesn’t fit in the plane’s overhead compartment. However, a huge number of travellers say that travel bags that fit the overhead compartment made their trip less stressful and helped them save time and money.
Getting luggage that is built to fit the plane’s overhead compartment is a very practical move considering that more and more airlines are making it habit to charge steep fees to check bags. Moreover, luggage that fits the overhead compartment saves the traveller from the trouble of waiting and identifying luggage in the ocean of travel bags on the baggage carousel.
Soon after the plane has landed and come to a stop, the traveller simply has to take his or her luggage out from the overhead compartment and head off to a connecting flight or wherever the destination may be.
Your Needs They Are A-Changin
As you are preparing and packing up for an upcoming trip, you noticed that your favourite luggage no longer seems to have enough space for your stuff. Or perhaps the reverse happened – you decided to become a minimalist traveller which left your luggage with an ample amount of unused space. Something has changed. You sit back and ask: Is something wrong with my luggage?
Well, it is definitely not the fault of your luggage – it didn’t shrink nor did it expand. Chances are, your needs have changed without you noticing it. Time flies you know. Perhaps you were unmarried then and travelled occasionally bringing along only a medium-sized bag. However, years later, you are travelling more often with a partner and kids in tow rendering your suitcase from your single days too small for you and your family’s travel needs.
Our circumstances and priorities change as time goes by, but sometimes we forget to make adjustments to the changes as they occur. Beware that seemingly insignificant concerns such as getting the appropriate luggage to meet changing travel needs can make or break travel plans and make a big difference in how we enjoy travelling.
The Wheel, The Seams, and The Handle
If you are having second thoughts about replacing your old luggage because you think it is still in travel-ready condition, try taking it out for a spin on the nearest sidewalk. Make sure to fill it with some stuff just so it carries some weight. As you pull it along, take note of any signs of malfunction especially coming from the wheels, the retractable handle, and even the seams.
First off, does the retractable handle get stuck in one position? Although this problem may not seriously undermine your trip, it will definitely cause you or the airport luggage handler some problems if it gets stuck when checking in.
Next, do the wheels wobble to and fro as if they are going to disengage? If they do, then it is just a matter of time before they finally break off. You don’t want to waste your time in a busy airport looking for your bag’s lost wheels, do you?
Lastly, do the seams show signs of coming apart? If your luggage appears to have seams that are in the process of unhitching themselves, you need to seriously consider buying new luggage. Luggage with weak seams will almost certainly fall apart on you while you are on the road.
The Luggage “Backbone”
Checking the condition of your luggage frame otherwise known as the “backbone” requires a little effort on your part. Unlike the wheels, the handle, and the seams which are located outside the bag and can be viewed quite easily, the luggage frame is located inside.
On good quality bags, you should be able to find the frame by first looking for a zipper on the inner lining of your luggage. Simply unzip it and take a peek inside. Depending on the material used, what you will find is either a plastic or metal frame. If the frame is made of plastic, the red flags to look for are bubbling or cracking. With frames made of metal, the warning signs will either be warped or rusted metal.
On lower quality bags that don’t have internal zippers, you will only be able to feel what condition the frame is in by feeling it through the lining. If you feel what appears to be a crack or warp, then you will have to cut the lining to inspect the frame, and then have someone stitch it up or install a zipper.
Fully functioning luggage contributes to making trips smoother and stress-free. Therefore luggage should be checked for any signs of impairment on a regular basis. If a suitcase, duffel or backpack is beyond repair, saying goodbye to it and saying hello to a new replacement is always the best option.