LUGGAGE FOR LESS
Ready to replace those worn, old bags? Although quality luggage does not come cheap, and you can spend hundreds of dollars for high-end pieces from the likes of Briggs & Riley or Tumi, there are certainly some suitcases out there that are easier on the wallet. We consulted a variety of resources, including hands-on testing by experts and consumer reviews on sites like Amazon, eBags, Walmart.com, and Luggage Pros, to find the best carry-on luggage, checked bags, and multi-piece luggage sets for travelers on a budget.
Something to keep in mind when searching for the ideal baggage: Size matters, especially if you want to avoid airline baggage fees. Many domestic airlines now require carry-ons to be no larger than 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. International carriers tend to be stricter, with many limiting carry-ons to 21.5 or 21.6 inches high.
While many travelers prefer hard-shell suitcases, because they offer more protection and often weigh less, some experts suggest that soft-sided luggage is the better option. It's more forgiving if you overpack; it fits more easily into overhead bins; and it's not as prone to the scuffs, cracks, and zipper issues that can plague hard-sided luggage.
Four-wheeled spinner bags are easier to maneuver inside airports on level, smooth surfaces, but their wheels protrude, making them more vulnerable to damage than two-wheeled rolling luggage, and they can easily get bogged down on rougher terrain.
While some bags carry lifetime warranties (Briggs & Riley, for example, offers lifetime coverage that includes free repairs for damage caused by airlines) that sort of guarantee usually comes with a premium price tag. Manufacturers of cheaper luggage typically provide only a few years of protection, and most warranties don't cover anything beyond manufacturing defects. It's also notoriously difficult to collect on claims, according to many owners' reviews. Our picks have relatively sturdy construction, and most cost under $150, providing at least a little consolation in the event of loss or damage.
Prices and availability are subject to change.