No. of Recommendations: 3

Because of the amount of traveling we do, we're pretty particular about the suitcases we use. They have to keep the stuff inside protected from the gentle ministrations of assorted baggage handlers (and my own clumsiness). In the US, every manufacturer has ceased manufacturing (or offering) hard sided suitcases, other than those with zippers. The sides are thin and push in and the zippers are fragile. The only exception are the cases made in Germany by Rimowa which are extremely expensive. Samsonite makes lightweight, but tough hard sided cases in Europe which are not distributed in the US. They are functionally equivalent to the plastic Rimona's, but cost a fraction of the price (while still not cheap by US standards). A large bag (depending on specific style) runs about 200 Euros in Italy (same bag is 200 pounds in the UK, for example), from which I would get back about 28 Euros in VAT tax rebate when I take it from the EU.

On carry-ons, I'm a bit jaded having owned one of the earlier TravelPro Crew versions which was a super bag. I currently use a Costco (Kirkland Signature) bag which I've modified to put one of the two unique ideas the TravelPro had (a foam roller in the "suiter" to keep garments from creasing as they are folded. The other unique idea, which was a zippered pocket on the rear of the bag just wasn't going to happen). At under $100, this bag competes very well against most bags in the $400 class, but includes a lifetime satisfaction guaranty (which is appreciated after finding out that a Hartman's lifetime guaranty didn't cover a busted zipper). My wife uses a Tumi which, while not a bad bag, doesn't offer any significant advantages compared to the Costco one. I'm not sure if Costco has reached Austria yet (I don't remember seeing it there, but I think it's at least reached the UK), but their standing behind the quality of the products they sell is a compelling reason to look at their products.

By the way, most people are not aware that (as a US citizen), once you go over your exemption, European goods from most countries currently have an import duty of 100% (to punish the bad Europeans for not importing our hormone laden beef). It wouldn't affect most tourists unless they, let's say, purchased an expensive piece of jewelry.

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