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A porter’s guide to suitcases: ‘Expensive, brand-name luggage? One question – why?’ | Australian lifestyle

A porter’s guide to suitcases: ‘Expensive, brand-name luggage? One question – why?’ | Australian lifestyle

Luggage. During my time as a porter, I’ve seen all kinds. Big, small. Heavy, light. Wheels, no wheels. Bright, bland. Which is best? The most durable? The most practical?

The answers depend on where you’re going, for how long you’ll be travelling, where you’ll be staying and whether you trust others to look after your bag.

Luggage is a practical concern. It’s used for carrying things, so it should suit its purpose: carrying your belongings safely and securely for the length of your trip and beyond. And what is practical in a modern city may not be useful in cobblestone old towns, the outback or at the snowfields.

If you are in the outback or at the snow, you should have a bag you can carry. Wheels aren’t great over sand, snow or ice and chances are you won’t be availing yourself of a portering service. In these cases, use something with a strong shoulder strap, or carry a large backpack. It could get dirty or wet, so prepare for that, too.

Porters call four-wheel suitcases R2-D2 bags – you can imagine them saying ‘Beep-boop-beep’. Photograph: s-cphoto/Getty Images

Going to a tropical island resort? If it’s the type of place you fly in and out of (or boat in and boat out), there’ll be multiple people handling your bag. They’ll also be handling lots of other bags at the same time, so yours will be shoved, heaved and dumped on a luggage pile in a complex game of luggage Tetris. So take a suitcase that is rigid on the inside and soft on the outside. You won’t need much in the way of belongings, either – people who bring more than the standard swimwear, casual wear and formal wear (one set of each) to the tropics generally incur a porter’s wrath.

Hard-shell suitcases with four wheels are great if you’re planning on staying at a few nice hotels but don’t want to use the porter service because you’re confident you can handle your own bags. They’re easy to manoeuvre, easy to identify, and almost indestructible. Porters like them for this reason, and we call them R2-D2 bags – you can imagine them saying “Beep-boop-beep” as you drag them along.

But if you’re going to a European city hotel or travelling by train, those rigid hard cases can be cumbersome. You’ll be better off with a bag you can pull behind you on two wheels that can take a bit of weathering. It’s also good if it can be locked.

For a hotel in a nearby city, the best bag is one that can be easily crammed in the boot of a taxi. It can be crammed on to…

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