The art of choosing a suitcase that sparks joy

All foodies love to travel because travel=food adventures, so let’s talk luggage. I’ve just read tidying guru Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy and I realized that suitcases are not just functional items – they spark joy because they are full of our travel memories. I’ve recently uploaded my case with wonderful times in Greece’s unspoiled Peloponnese, where the sunshine climate and fertile soil produce tasty delights.

One of my most cherished items is the small suitcase my parents and I packed quickly when we were forced to leave our beloved home and became refugees in 1974. They had bought a set of three when we moved from England to Cyprus, but returned to England with just the small one. Perhaps that’s why luggage means so much to me.  A suitcase packs so much more than things.

The case my parents and I fled with in 1974  when our town Famagusta in Cyprus was invaded 

Here are some tips on choosing luggage for joyful journeys:

Hard vs soft: My ex-air hostess cousin told me cases that are checked in take a tough battering from baggage handlers who hurl them into the aircraft, so investing in good quality luggage made from solid, hard materials is a long term investment. (I’d fallen for a gorgeous case by a fashion label in the sales but within two trips it was dented, had a damaged wheel and looked tatty –not such a bargain after all). Business travelling friends also recommend top of the range luggage for carrying on board too, but for cabin luggage prefer soft material with compartments  as this is far more convenient.

One size fits all: I’ve noticed die-hard travellers go for soft yet tough, durable, light luggage that’s most likely to come from outdoor brands and needn’t be expensive. They pick one bag that fits pretty much all airline requirements for cabin luggage even if that means sometimes sacrificing a few centimetres of space. They also seem to prefer the 2-wheel rather than 4-wheel option. Those super-gliding 4-wheels are fabulous for slick airport floors but not so good on a variety of surfaces.

 Currently committed to:  I’m devoted to my aubergine slim (25cm deep) soft Antler with two very nifty outside compartments that are most handy for documents and yummy home snacks for the plane (especially for airlines that allow only one carry-on bag). Recently Aubergine Antler and I did a steep downhill gravel mountain path and a long farm road in Greece. It’s smart enough for work trips, and sturdy enough for adventures. I give it a thorough clean after each trip so it looks in top condition each time.

Once a shopping editor (my job for four years many moons ago), always a shopping researcher, so here are my favourite brands. I’d love to hear more suggestions.

 Best value: Marks & Spencer  My mother’s hard backed case has transported many a food delight back from Cyprus, including boxes packed with our favourite Zorbas petit fours. Other high street brands have been flops.

 Best luggage brands: Antler, Delsey, Samsonite won’t disappoint. There are plenty of better looking or more striking designs from fashion labels but so far I haven’t had a recommendation.

 Best luggage department: Much as I love the oasis of cases in the Selfridges basement, TK Maxx is where I’m always studying. (It’s a bit of an obsession this luggage thing, even if I’m not buying). Great labels, discount prices. Because the choice is not overwhelming I find it’s easier to really study the items and compare. Personally I also find it easier to do this on my own without a sales assistant quizzing me, and in TK Maxx that’s a joy.

I’ll be sharing more on luggage and giving some tips on packing soon. Happy sunshine travels.


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