Pile of suitcases

I am studying the carousel snaking round the arrivals hall – eyes peeled for a sighting of my battered suitcase with its stripy ribbon on the handle. At least this gives me a chance of identifying it (alongside the other hundred almost identical black cases) but one by one they are retrieved by relieved owners, while mine remains a no-show.

My case eventually turns up on day five of my six-day journalist’s trip to Tenerife. Fortunately I’m wearing a long black flowing coat and trousers, which serves me well and which I virtually live in for the week (investing, naturally, in new smalls). But looking back, I seem to remember not receiving any compensation for being the most boringly dressed person on the island.

Which brings me to my quandary – hard suitcase or soft? Which is going to last (and stay looking good) for longer? We all need reliable, durable luggage but which type is the best investment?

I had no idea suitcases were such a hotly contested issue until the subject arose at a friend’s party recently; there was a contingent of confirmed hard case fans, vehement in their loyalty to rigid shells, whilst several of us were equally united in our dedication to the fabric models.

I’ll admit I have always been a soft case fan: I reckon I can fit more in (especially the expandable variety) and they seem generally much lighter than the hard-sided types – plus they’re a lot cheaper. And that might just be a clue…

Considering I’m always looking for the most stylish (but reasonable) model that TK Maxx might happen to stock (other retailers are available) I end up having to change them every couple of years, because they just don’t last. As a travel writer my luggage receives such wear and tear that the case edges often fray, or one of the 360-degree spinner wheels get stuck – a magnificent invention, but not when one of them is no longer willing to glide and play. And unfortunately, the small print on the warranties seems to exclude accidental damage sustained in air travel (where else would it happen?)

Should I now consider paying more and investing in a hard case that might have greater longevity? Maybe even one of those sexy aluminum ones that astronauts have, with ridges all over? The merits are that they look much more upmarket and can offer greater protection to fragile goods (although since I always wrap everything breakable in my nightie, jumpers, and about six plastic bags, that’s not so much of an issue).

And rigid cases are heavier, plus they allow no room for manoeuvre; though some of them do have integrated phone chargers, which seems like a stroke of genius. I decide to call my friend Daniel Williams, who is a PR luggage guru, looking after many luxury brands. What Daniel doesn’t know about luggage isn’t worth knowing, and he turns out to be an advocate of structure – he likes the hard stuff. He tells me that there’s a reason the best suitcases cost what they do adding “spending a decent amount on top-notch technology that’s going to keep your precious possessions safe and well looked after is a worthwhile investment.” He also reminds me that we go away on holiday to make memories and the dings and dents that occur over time illustrate the story of your case.

So - a definite case for a hard case…watch this space…