The $49 Kmart carry-on frequent flyer swears by
Suitcases can be a travel minefield - a set of the high-end brands can set you back thousands of dollars, but are the cheap ones just as good?
Frequent flyers will be happy to know that yes they are, according to travel experts. And here's why:
CHOICE SAYS SO
Suitcases need to withstand different weather conditions and bumps along the way, so to make sure the brands we trust are up to the challenge, Choice recently tested and reviewed 27 different brands of carry-on luggage, all with different price tags.
They were tests for water resistance, durability and stability. Of those tests, a $239 American Tourister Curio came up trumps with an 87 per cent score, just one behind the Big W Jetstream that will set you back just $70. Kmart's $49 carry-on bag also scored 86 per cent, and came highly recommended, although it only scored 65 per cent on the rain test.
The Kmart hard case (only $38) also scored 86 per cent - the same score as the Samsonite 72 Hours DLX - a bag that comes with a $329 price tag. Then was Antler's Oxygen bag, which retails for $289, while Samsonite's $579 Cosmolite 3.0 scored 84.
"I recently bought the $49 Kmart carry-on case and it's fantastic," said Sydney's Tim Melwood, who travels globally for 40 per cent of the year.
"It's lightweight, versatile and a bargain price - it's honestly the best bag I've ever had."
IF YOU'RE AFTER A BUDGET BAG, HEAD TO IKEA
Angus Kidman, travel expert at finder.com.au, told Escape that when picking your bag, the price you pay will depend on how often you'll be using it.
"A cheaper suitcase for the odd trip will probably see you through," he said.
"But if you're a regular traveller, you should invest in a good suitcase. "Between being thrown into the plane and flying out of the carousel, suitcases take a beating."
He said Ikea's Starttid bag (for $24.99 until July 31 and then $34.99), was a great option for carry-on luggage.
"Its soft casing also means it can fold down to be entirely flat - either to store under your bed, or in your bigger suitcase for extra shopping space."
THE ALDI ALTERNATIVE
Aldi recently held a Seasoned Traveller Special Buys sale where they sold a lightweight hardcover suitcase for just $80 - a fraction of the price of its Samsonite lookalike, which can fetch five times that. Aldi's Skylite 76cm Spinner ($80) looks a lot like Samsonite's Octolite 75cm Spinner ($399) - they both have a 100 per cent polypropylene lightweight hard-shell, double-spinner wheels and TSA approved locks.
Sydney mother of two Georgia Kennedy purchased both Aldi and Samsonite luggage before her family's recent move to South Africa.
"When we came here I bought a massive very expensive Samsonite on sale - but I also went to Aldi and got their luggage," she said.
"I have to say it's brilliant.
"I can't see a difference."
THE CHOICE IS PERSONAL
Choice testing has shown that cheaper brands stack up against luggage heavyweights, but at the end of the day, the preference is a personal one, and lies with the traveller.
Drenka Andjelic, from Sydney's inner west, said she was happy to continue to pay for Samsonite bags.
"Your luggage becomes your long trusty travel companion - it's an extension of you," she said.
" A good suitcase serves you for many years, through the ups and downs - it can get lost and sweetly reunited."
The weight, she says, is also important.
"The more you pay, the lighter it is and the more space and weight is left for your precious stuff," Ms Andjelic said.
"Cheap ones are made of heavier materials, which is wasted weight when traveling.
"Just like a good hand bag, shoes or hair cut, it defines you."
Fellow Sydneysider Doreen Cooper, however, has had both cheap and expensive, and says there's not much difference.
"I also have a Samsonite, but I can't say that it's any better than the cheaper version - in fact, each scratch breaks my heart."
WHEN PICKING A SUITCASE:
Look at weight, size and sturdiness
Whether you have a small suitcase that you're using for carry-on or a large suitcase that you need to check-in, the weight of the case counts towards your baggage allowance. Check the size is what you are after, and make sure the handles are firmly fastened to the body of the case, so they are less likely to break.
Wheels are wheely important
The case should roll easily, and not bounce or tip when being pulled. Four-wheel spinner models can be easier to use, but some can be difficult to control when pushed across bumpy terrain, so make sure you take it for a test-drive.
Waterproof is in the pudding
You can't control the weather, but you can control whether your case and its valuable content gets wet. Hard cases aren't necessarily more water-resistant than fabric ones, as water can still get through the lid joint, so ask for waterproof qualities before buying.
The (cheap) Choice winners:
Flylite Pro-Lite 54cm - 86 per cent score. RRP $200
Kmart Active & Co - 86 per cent score. RRP $49
Big W Jetstream - 86 per cent score. RRP $70
Kmart Hard Case - 86 per cent score. RRP $38
Skylite 56cm Spinner Carry On - 86 per cent score. RRP $40