At suitcase.repair we mostly focus on repairing your suitcase once it is already damaged – but what can you do once to even prevent this damage in the first place? With the rough handling your suitcase encounters at airports some damage can unfortunately not be avoided but there are still some things you can do to help prevent damage – many of which don’t cost you a dime.
Protecting the suitcase shell from cracks, dents & scratches
The shell of your suitcase may be made from different materials such as Polycarbonate, ABS, Aluminum, Nylon or even a mixture of some of these materials. Each of these materials has their own advantages and disadvantages in protecting your luggage from damage. The following best practices apply however regardless of the material your suitcase is made of:
Protecting your suitcase already starts before your trip has started. Packing with care is one of the most important methods of preventing damage. This includes avoiding being overweight, avoiding squeezing the suitcase too much and avoiding empty corners. Packing too much in your suitcase (both in terms of volume and weight) can lead to your suitcase bursting upon impact. Many suitcase materials are meant to reduce the chance of the shell breaking however the likelihood is increased greatly if the recommended weight is significantly exceeded or if the volume is too large (especially for soft-shell suitcases). As most airlines have specified a maximum weight of 23 kilograms, luggage manufacturers test their suitcases at a weight of 23-25 kilograms to ensure that they can handle the weight. While some premium brands will also test their items with up to 30 kilograms it is generally not recommended to exceed 23 kilograms significantly. In case you frequently have problems of not being able to fit your belongings into your suitcase a good alternative which can prevent damage is to choose an expandable suitcase to avoid stuffing too much into your suitcase.
When packing it is equally important to avoid empty spaces. At times it may seem useful to leave some empty space for purchases during the trip or to carry back some souvenirs. This amount of space should however be very limited. Leaving empty spaces in your suitcase, especially around the corners, greatly increases the risk of dents in the shell. In case you realize that you have too much empty space in your suitcase you may want to consider switching to a smaller luggage size for this trip.
Using a luggage cover
Scratches on your suitcase can be very frustrating, especially if you have just purchased the suitcase. The likelihood of scratches being visible on the shell of your suitcase greatly depends on the surface structure of your suitcase. Suitcases with a glossy / shiny finish are most susceptible to scratches. On suitcases with a matt surface scratches are typically less visible however they still occur. The most effective option is to choose a suitcase with an embossed finish which feels a little rough on the outside but reduces the chance of scratches occurring and makes them less visible at the same time.
Other best practices
To ensure that the shell of your suitcase remains intact for as long as possible it is also important to ensure that your usage and the storage will not negatively impact the shell. Generally, it is recommended to store the suitcase in a dry room and at regular room temperature. You should avoid storing the suitcase at too low or too high a temperature for too long time as this could make the material brittle over time. Also, you should prevent placing heavy objects on the shell for extended periods of time or sitting on the suitcase (e.g., at the airport).
Preventing damages to the suitcase trolley handle
The trolley handle of a suitcase is among the frequently damaged parts of a suitcase. In many cases the damage is the result of the suitcase falling on a sharp edge causing dents on the tubing or similar damage.
To prevent damage to the telescopic handle it is important to avoid packing too much weight into the suitcase or to squeeze too many belongings into the suitcase. For too heavy suitcases it is possible that the telescopic handle is getting ripped off while it is also possible to damage the tubes of the telescopic handle by applying too much pressure when trying to pack too much volume into the suitcase.
Additionally, it is very important to avoid lifting the suitcase on the telescopic handle. As the telescopic handle is only designed for pulling the suitcase it is not able to carry the weight of the suitcase leading to one or more stages of the handle being ripped off. Such damage can be avoided easily by remembering to use the top or side carry handle to lift the suitcase.
Ensuring your suitcase rolls for longer
The wheels of your suitcase are among the most important components and make it very troublesome to use once damaged. Much damage to the wheel occurs when the suitcase is transported by an airline. While being transported on conveyor belts and being loaded onto the plane it can unfortunately happen that the wheel or part of the wheel is chipped off. Unfortunately, this is little you can do to prevent such types of damage. In our article on how to repair your damaged suitcase you can however find useful tips on how to report the damage to the airline.
Another frequent type of damage is the wheels getting worn down quickly and, in some cases, even melting. One common cause is cobble stones and gravel which can greatly increase the wear and tear on your suitcase wheels and should thus be avoided. Especially for suitcases with single wheels instead of double wheels it can happen frequently that small stones or other debris is getting stuck between the wheel and the wheel housing causing preventing the wheel from turning and subsequently getting flat on one side. Hence, it is important to regularly remove debris from the wheel and the wheel housing and to make a short stop to check your suitcase if you feel that your suitcase got harder to pull compared to before. For modern 4-wheel suitcases it is also important to primarily use the suitcase on all four wheels instead of pulling it on just two wheels. Due to the 4-wheel design the wheels are not designed to carry the suitcase weight only on two of the four wheels which causes these two wheels to be worn down more quickly.
Avoiding damages to the suitcase zipper
The zipper of a suitcase is often perceived as one of the most fragile parts. Damage to the zipper most often occur from overpacking or squeezing additional belongings into the suitcase. This can cause the zipper to be under increased pressure and eventually bursting open. Unfortunately, you can do little to prevent such damage apart from choosing a larger suitcase size or an expandable suitcase. In all cases you should avoid trying to close the zipper with something stuck in the zipper chain as this could cause severe damage to the zipper. Also, you should avoid trying to close the zipper too fast or with too much strength.
The only option to prevent any damage to the suitcase zipper is to choose a zipperless suitcases. Zipperless suitcases exist in multiple shapes. One very common type is made from Polypropylene for which the shell also serves as a built-in frame allowing you to close the suitcase with two or in some cases three locks. Other common types are made from Aluminum or Polycarbonate with an aluminum frame allowing you to close the frame with two to three locks on the frame. While reducing the risk of any damage to the zipper one disadvantage of this type of luggage is however that it is typically heavier compared to comparable suitcases featuring a zipper.
Planning ahead – spare parts for your suitcase
Applying the best practices from this article you will be able to prevent many common types of damage to your luggage. However, it is not possible to prevent all kinds of damage, especially when traveling by plane. Hence, it is even more important to plan ahead and check if spare parts for your suitcase are available and where, ideally already before purchasing your suitcase. Some brands only offer spare parts after contacting their customer service and some require you to signup for their repair website just to search for spare parts and see the pricing. For many items in the entry price range there might even be no spare parts available at all. At suitcase.repair we provide you with transparency regarding what parts are available as spare parts, at what price, if they are currently available and how to perform the actual repair. Additionally, you have the option to save the model number and purchase receipt of your suitcase in your suitcase.repair account (which is of course free of charge) in case your suitcase is ever damaged. Even if the spare parts for the suitcase brand of your item are not yet available it is useful to save your suitcase details in your suitcase.repair account. On one hand it allows you to have all details ready for a warranty claim and on the other hand we are constantly expanding our selection so we can hopefully offer the spare parts for your suitcase soon as well.
What can I do if my suitcase already got damaged?
In the unfortunate case your suitcase already got damaged we recommend checking if the damage can be repaired. After checking if the damage on your suitcase can be repaired you will have to search for matching spare parts to perform the repair. One of the easiest solutions is to search for the matching spare parts on your suitcase.repair. Also, our blog article on how you can repair your suitcase provides you with additional information on what to look out for when trying to repair your suitcase.