Updated February 11, 2014

Best Luggage for the Money, 2014

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When you travel, your luggage should act as a steady companion. The relationship is simple: the luggage carries your stuff and you carry the luggage. Assuming you both arrive at the same place and at the same time, the relationship is a success.

As with any relationship – no matter how one-sided – you need to pick the right partner. While some luggage will be smooth and give you all the space you need, others will be rigid and leave you with a broken heart – or at least a broken zipper.

That’s why it’s important to do a little research before you and your new traveling companion take to the skies or the rails. To help you on your journey, CreditDonkey has analyzed expert and customer reviews and put together a list of some of the best buys in luggage.

When you need to pack more, buying a luggage set can be a smart way to save money. These sets usually include several pieces, ranging from small totes to full-size checked baggage.

Luggage sets are popular because with just one purchase, you can have a fully-stocked inventory. In addition, the matching colors and patterns will make you feel like you went on a game show and lost the car prize, but still got to take something home.

But be warned, the convenience of a set often comes with the danger of low-quality items that will likely fall apart before you even make it to the airport.

Best Luggage Set Under $100

Samsonite 5-Piece Nested Set
26" L x 18" W x 10" H; 11.4 lbs (large suitcase)
22" L x 14" W x 9" H; 9.4 lbs (small suitcase)
13" L x 19" W x 12.5" H; 3.2 lbs (large duffel)
11" L x 14" W x 10" H; 2.6 lbs (small duffel)
7" L x 11" W x 5" H; 0.6 lbs (toiletry kit)
10-year limited warranty

Samsonite is one of the most popular luggage companies in the world, and this set is one of the most popular around. You’re not going to get more bags from a major manufacturer for a lower price.

The wheeled uprights are soft-sided with fully lined interiors. All the bags have numerous zippered pockets, which should help keep your travel essentials organized.

The set was ranked “Best Luggage Set” by Bestcovery. In her review, Lucy Graves said the set was impressive “due to the many well-constructed pieces and low price.” However, some recent customer reviews complain about shoddy materials and excess weight.

Best Luggage Set Under $300

eBags EXO Hardside Spinner 2-Piece Set
27.5” L x 18” W x 11” H: 9.3 lbs
22” L x 14” W x 9” H; 7.5 lbs
Lifetime warranty

For the more bumpy skies, hard-case luggage can be a lifesaver, especially with checked bags. Hard cases provide the clear benefit of durability but can sometimes lack the capacity of soft luggage.

While the small size of the this 2-piece spinner, a bag with four wheels instead of two, won’t do much to quell space concerns, the outer shell will certainly ease the worries of dent-phobic travelers. In fact, Outside Magazine reviewer Ted Alan Stedman wrote that “not only is the EXO the most durable and versatile spinner we’ve ever tested, it’s also the safest.”

Stedman credited the protection to an integrated TSA lock and to a shell that “returned dent-free from a 13,000-mile European tour.”

If you’re looking for more of a budget option for hard cases, try the Traveler’s Choice Toronto Luggage Set. The Toronto is about $75 cheaper and comes with an additional bag. Customers rate the set pretty high, but the lack of expert reviews makes buying more of a risk.

Best Luggage for Kids

When it comes to traveling with kids, sometimes the best bag is the one that stops them from crying or throwing a fit at the airport because they don’t the look of their bag. Things like quality and zipper strength will be meaningless if the luggage doesn’t feature “popular character X” from “popular show X.”

With that truth in mind, you may still want to at least try to find them a bag that will make their traveling easier. Just be sure to keep the receipt.

Rockland 20” Polycarbonate Luggage
20" L x 13" W x 10" H; 6.5 lbs
3-year limited warranty

This adorable but tough case should please all the little fashionistas in your life. The Rockland bag is light, spacious, and provides a long, telescoping handle to help kids pull their own weight.

The advantage of a four-wheel spinner is the fun and ease of use. The disadvantage is that left unattended, those four-wheels make it really easy for the luggage to roll away and find a new family. But the wide range of patterns will help you keep an eye on the bag – and your kid – as you navigate the crowds.

Rockland Brand by Fox Luggage is one of the newer names out there in luggage. While customer reviews are mostly positive, there aren’t enough expert opinions yet to know for sure how long the bags will last.

High Sierra Freewheel
20.5" L x 13.5" W x 8" H; 5.4 lbs
5-year limited warranty

Kids and backpacks go together pretty well, so why not upgrade to a more travel-friendly sack? The wheeled backpack is a great option for kids because it gives them the power of choice.

The High Sierra Freewheel is roomy, has a padded sleeve for a laptop or tablet, and comes in a number of different colors. Whether they wear it or pull it, it’s one more piece of luggage that you don’t have to carry.

The bag got a positive nod from Good Housekeeping for durability, but also a few dings for being too heavy and hard to open.

Best Luggage for Business Travel

When traveling is part of your job, the speed and efficiency of a carry-on always wins the day. The right carry-on gives you the power to avoid the long wait at the ticket counter and at baggage claim. It also ensures that no matter where you land, your luggage will land too.

TravelPro Luggage Crew 9 22-inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter Bag
22" L x 14" W x 9" H; 9.8 lbs
Limited lifetime warranty

For decades, TravelPro has been putting out luggage that has been embraced by frequent fliers and airline professionals. The Crew 9 is no exception, combining space and structure all within a lightweight and maneuverable frame.

The suiter system takes the luggage to an executive-level by keeping suits and clothes wrinkle-free. If you don’t mind wrinkles and want more space, the system is easily removed.

The Crew 9 placed third in the Product Innovation Award at the 2012 Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas. Judges said the bag “minimizes fatigue” and “offers more comfort and better control.”

Regardless of how you use it, the TravelPro Crew 9 is by far one of the best bags you can get for under $200, and will likely be your go-to carry-on for years.

Briggs & Riley Transcend International Carry-on Spinner Luggage
19.5" L x 15.5" W x 8" H; 8.8 lbs
Lifetime warranty

OK, this is where we start to get a little serious, and by that we mean serious investment. Frequent business travelers need something that can survive trip after trip and tumble after tumble. Briggs & Riley is one of those top-tier luggage companies that specialize in making bags that will make it home no matter what.

The Transcend is designed to give you the maximum amount of space and still be able to slide into the overhead bin in domestic and international flights. The top-notch construction ensures everything stays secure.

A few years ago, Good Housekeeping gave the 24” version of this bag an A+. The magazine found that the Transcend was the only expandable upright “to earn perfect scores on durability, acing water resistance and abrasion tests and taking rough handling with ease.”

At more than $300, the Transcend is a pricey proposition, but the benefits are clear the moment you first use the bag and discover that, yes, zippers and wheels can be amazing. Also, when you factor in B&R’s lifetime guarantee, you can be sure the bag will last you until your final destination.

While our recommendations were made after hours of research, remember that they are just our recommendations. While we hope this gives you a good starting to point to your journey, you’ll also need to factor in your unique needs and, of course, your travel budget.

Ross Frasier is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Ross Frasier at ross@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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