One of the great attractions of buying classic, handmade items is how they age; true investment pieces that last not just more than one season, but more than one generation. However, few articles are written about aging. Understandably, most are written about the instantly thrilling, box-fresh purchase.

Hopefully this piece will be the first of many about how great things age. It is about my Globe-Trotter luggage.

When I first wrote about buying the luggage two years ago, one reader commented: “Simon, those are beautiful suitcases. But… do you really use them for air travel today? Don’t they get ruined?” I didn’t really know it at the time, but the point is that no, they do not.

There are many advantages to Globe-Trotter luggage. It is very light yet extremely strong (in a famous stunt a cabin case was shown to be able to support the weight of an elephant). It is handmade using the same Victorian machinery as it was 113 years ago. It is easily repaired, very eco-friendly and great value for luxury luggage.

But the best thing about it is how it looks, in particular as it is used. You can get a polycarbonate suitcase that will be tough and lightweight. But it will never look as good as when it was new: it is designed to look shiny and as soon as it scuffs it is degraded. It is unlikely to be something you are proud of; you certainly wouldn’t pass it down to the next generation.

Another reader on that initial post commented “the best thing about Globe-Trotter is, unlike the wretched Samsonites, it doesn’t matter if it starts to looked ‘used.’ Quite the opposite in fact”. Another said “being using one for years. It ages amazingly, with more scratches and baggage stickers gracing its surface, I’m loving it more everyday”.

And here is the evidence, in the photos of my luggage two years later.

In that time it has been checked in about 30 times. It has been to New York, Hong Kong, Dubai and Buenos Aires. It has often emerged looking a little battered, but with more character as a result. One side is slightly dented and one of the corners has been punctured slightly; but all to good effect.

The only slight disappointment was that, after its fourth outing, the housing of one of the wheels broke away. Apparently this is a relatively rare problem. When cases do get taken in for repair, which happens every five years on average if used heavily, the most common culprits are the locks and the handles. Wheels come third.

It took me a long time to get around to taking the suitcase in for repair – I only managed it last week. And while the repair isn’t inexpensive (this one will be £80), Globe-Trotter does it at cost. It’s done by one man up at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire that does all the company’s carpentry and fixing.

My initial disappointment has been tempered by the experience of using my case since (I taped up the wheel for a while) and by the attentive aftercare service. As long as nothing breaks again any time soon, I’ll be happy.

All similar experiences, photos or war stories are gratefully received. There’s always archive pictures – but those people all had chauffeurs and valets. Much more revealing to see how a suitcase has coped with the thuggish baggage handlers of New Jersey.

 

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Anonymous

Loved the post. I have been desiring to purchase a new case from Swaine, but think that Globe Trotter might be a better choice based on the durability of the pieces.

Anonymous

Simon,

Are they really that sturdy? I was in Harrods over the weekend and saw a similar model, and they did feel a little flimsy? Aesthetically, they are gorgeous, but I’m a bit sceptical as to how durable they really are.

SteveG

I received a Globe-Trotter flight case for my birthday, a year ago, and travel regularly throughout the year. It is the only luggage, I have had that, gets constant attention. At first you treat it with kid gloves but soon realise it doesn’t matter – so strong and it looks better anyway. Great blog

David Crosbie

Well it’s not that sturdy Is it! You mentioned that it had been punctured!

I’m sorry Simon, I’m usually on board with most of your purchases, choices and advice, but this one just smacks of poorly trying to justify a rather pointless product.

Luggage is a tool, a means to carry items from one place to the next. I can guarantee that no one in baggage handling and no other passengers care how pretty it is, and you’ll forgive me if I’d rather not spend serious cash on something that “punctured” through being used in it’s natural habitat!

I own an antler case made of lightweight aluminium alloy over a very sturdy frame. It was bought for my birthday some 12 years ago. It’s been used as a chair, dropped down stairs, dragged up London escalators and stuffed to the point of barely closing! It’s been on endless flights, trains and car journeys and has suffered as much as any luggage would.

I can safely say it has no punctures, no broken wheels, looks crisp and modern and friends still ask to borrow it. All of this for a price I imagine to be about a tenth of one of these cardboard boxes!

So, again, sorry, but some things are best left in the past where their usefulness belonged.

Anonymous

but wheels coming off? punctured corner!? i’ll be disappointed. why dont you fix that corner?

i agree that it looks better with age, but i am just questioning the durability a little.

my rimowa have served me fantastically over the last three years (zero problems), and it too looks better with age.

lucydebate

Since globe trotter’s website appears to be one of those doofy “luxury goods” sites that isn’t interested in me actually *buying* anything, I have to ask: how much did it cost?

Arctic Penguin

Lovely. Pricey.. but seemingly worth every bit. Maybe in a few years… but I am curious, when you had it repaired initially, was the corner missing a rivet or was that a later loss? And as far as repairs go, while perhaps the weaker elements are sheared off sooner and the more settled elements stay fast, how do you fin the service in terms of customer relations and fairness? For luggage that expensive, I would think that they might offer a certain number of gratis service as a tailor offers alterations to a customer.

culpitt

Fabulous. I love Globetrotter suitcases. I have a small weekend sized case that is brilliant and a large holiday sized case that belonged to my grandfather. He took it to South Africa in the 1950’s and it still has the old hotel stickers on it. I love it too much to actually travel with it and so it stays at home filled with travel journals.

Anonymous

Is the damage limited to minor bumps and scratches because you fly business/first class?

Excellent blog by the way, very informative yet also entertaining and readable.

Anonymous

I have been using Globetrotter suitcases for close to 20 years. I started to use them before Globtrotter was bought by a Japanese company, and when there were only 2-3 colours made. I use both check in luggage and hand luggage. I have found the suitcases to be sturdy and hard wearing, but the corners of the check in luggage do get bashed in from time to time (I haven’t had problems with wheels), and the edges of some of my cases have split and torn. The inside straps also sometimes fray, somewhat surprisingly. For the check in cases, I have sometimes had to replace them after 5-7 years. The hand luggage obviously has much less wear and tear, and lasts for ages.

Jon Crossick

I have been selling Globetrotter in one form or other since the early 90’s- they are amazingly resilient and well made – a reason why they are so popular in Japan. I am now retail director at Case who run the travel goods department in Harrods and we would pleased to show you this brand alongside the many excellent brands we have. Great piece by the way.

WinstonC

Case looks fantastic Simon. Lovely Hermes orange.

W

Helen

Wonderful but we are having trouble finding someone to mend ours! Any ideas?
Thanks H

Anonymous

Helen, where do you live? I have found it good to take cases back to one of the Globe-trotter stores. They do a very thorough job of the repairs. If you have bought them through a dept store, would they not be able to arrange repairs for you? As a last resort, it may be worth calling Globe-trotter to ask them the best solution based on where you live.

Naomi

Simon: I love your blog! I am also a big fan of globetrotter. I have never seen anyone who carries the same suitcase, but finally I did:). Mine is a trolley case in same color as yours. It’s been more than ten years since I bought it and traveled more than 30 times, but it is still in good condition. I also have a brown centenary and a large safari suitcase. The only thing that I noticed is that the frame slightly curved as I packed heavy ski gear when I made a trip to Switzerland, but it does not bother me at all. With canvas covers, they still keep beautiful colors and shape. I am surprised to see how much the prices rose; some of globetrotter suitcases are now sold with the price tag of over $2,000 in the U.S.(The price was about two-third when I bought them…). Anyway, they are definitely permanent pieces for me.

mscsracers

Hmm, what size is that one? 🙂 Its absolutely amazing how good it looks a bit beat up- does anybody know if they ever come in purple? That’s always been my dream luggage!

Anonymous

I have 3 of these cases all of different ages they have served me well, love them! I recently took in a repair to the Burlington Arcade shop recently and they were helpful and well informed about the product. They seem keen that you keep your old cases going for as long as possible, and don’t try to ‘upgrade’ you to a new case. If you like these values and the timeless style this is a great brand..

Anonymous

I am an enormous glob-trotter fan, have used them for more than a decade. It’s interesting that they have made some sort of a comeback with these limited edition designs and you can see a young journalist traveling with one across the amazon jungle in a show called “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia” on VBS.tv

Irf

Have enjoyed your blog.I got mine when i left uni 17 years ago, and it still has not broke. got loads of stickers and looks fun and cool to travel with. No wheels … didn’t have them in those days but i love it anyway. way cooler than LV

Nick

Simon, love your blog, and articles in The Rake. I’ve been toying with buying a Globetrotter for some time, and am pleased to read how resilient they actually are. One major question though; how do you get around the TSA inspections in the United states? Simply not lock the case, perhaps?

Roger

Most of the vintage Globetrotter cases you can find are in quite a decent state, which may delude some people into thinking they are virtually indestructable, but they aren’t. These cases travelled before mass travel and before the days of a trillion pieces of luggage passing through baggage handling.

Nowadays it doesn’t matter what you buy, it will all suffer damage, so the only reason to buy something more expensive would be to hopefully get someting more robust.At the prices some charge I wouldn’t expect any wheels to fall off for ten years.
Personally I find that thick canvas bags do a better job than ‘solid’ luggage. They don’t fracture, and anything fragile should be in your hand luggage.

My own view is that today’s mass travel has created a situation where worrying about smart-looking check-in luggage remaining smart-looking is just a waste of time and money. I’ll never have a private jet, so I save nice luggage for land trips or small boat trips when I know who is doing the baggage handling.

Nicholas

I love the added strap. Nice touch.

Anonymous

Great article.

I fear I may now love a suitcase, is that wrong.

Probably me, I can’t find the link to the original purchasing blog. Can you please post.

Would you or anyone know if the non extra deep 30 case would fit in high shelf on UK trains.

Thanks
James

peterbenton

Hello Simon,

An excellent article – because of it I’m now a proud owner of a 33″ Original! Could you recommend a supplier of a good quality leather strap
for it?

Best,

Peter

peterbenton

Hi Simon,

An excellent article – because of it I am now a proud owner of a 33″ Original. Could you recommend a supplier of a leather luggage strap?

Best,

Peter

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
Great blog, so I decided to take your advice and buy a one of these. I bought a 30″ Globetrotter for £5 on eBay!! Love the case but otherwise beyond the reach of my shallow pockets. After a wash and brush up that has not affected the patina, it looks a treat…. and a satisfied feeling for me.

Anonymous

I use the air cabin case. Looks great but the locks are terrible. Pressed steel and two times now the locks have broken, fortunately in countries where getting the case unlocked is easy and cheap. 2-times repaired with new locks by Globetrotter free of charge but the problem remains, ie, cheap locks and not suitable for serious travel. A design fault that Globetrotter acknowledge but refuse to rectify since they believe ‘Cheney’ (their Birmingham lock manufacturer) must be retained to keep the case completely “Made in England’.

Simon

paris

Hi simon
love the article and adore globetrotter,being the proud owner of 15 year old churches a 35 year old levi jacket and a 45 year old (tempramental) austin healey sprite i can add with a little care good things age well,18 months ago i bought a rigid leather satchel from tom browns oxford i haul it everywhere /dont look after it at all but it just looks better everyday (wish i could say the same about the healey

Anonymous

So how do you handle the TSA required locks when traveling internationally?
When I questioned Globe Trotter, they didn’t have an answer. Apparently, they will not supply a TSA lock on their luggage.

Anonymous

Thank you for the post! I’ve recently found and fell in love with the GlobeTrotter. I’ve been considering to invest in one and your article has reinforced my decision!

AFJ

Why orange?

Anonymous

I love the beaten up look that your luggage has acquired and orange is the perfect color to show that off. Yet, I have to say that if this is how the suitcase looks after only two years on the road, the next generation might not be too enthusiastic about inheriting it. On the other hand, I have no doubt that they will want their own classic globe-trotter.

Perhaps, this is the real success behind the brand. It creates the feeling that you are trotting along a piece of history which you will then pass on, but the thing you will actually pass on is that very desire.

Globe-trotter are in the suitcase business, but they are also in the nostalgia business. That said, I am by no means above being seduced by it.

Anonymous

Had mine over 40 years and still going strong. Been all over with it, Middle East, USA, South Africa, Europe, Caribean. Covered in stickers now, rather distinctive but never a problem with it, would not swap it for anything else!

Anonymous

Hi Simon. I’m just wondering how your suitcase is faring 2 years on.

Anonymous

Please do. I’m dying to see how much “character” has been added. It will help me decide whether or not to attempt checking mine in

Anonymous

Hi Simon, happy new year and may 2013 brings a lot of happy travel as well.

By the way, I observed that you have the central belt of the original, may I know if this is obtained from GT shop or ordered from another shop. I owned original in green but when I visited the GT shop here in Japan yesterday to see if I could find a belt, they dont have. Thanks.

Steve L

One thing I wonder about these old style cases is the locks when checking them in. We know we can’t generally lock our cases anymore, with odd exceptions like the USA and TSA locks. With a modern zip around case then security aside that case is not going to come undone accidentally. However with a case like this, assuming they still open with the old sprung lever, that a couple of knocks to the front from another case could cause the locks to spring open and for disaster to occur. Am I missing something?

Anonymous

There is a serious design defect in Globe Trotter suitcases. Their locks keep breaking. They charge £80 to replace each lock. I have two suitcases which means four locks and have spent in excess of £600 replacing locks.

S J

Good suitcases but terrible locks. They break after every trip and cost £80 and six weeks to repair. I spend half my life taking the suitcases back to the store. A terrible and recurring nightmare.

Ronald Hill

Had Globe Trotter for over 40 years. All over the world with them. Still going strong. I have 5 cases of different sizes

Beverley Lamb

I’ve had my black with tan trim globetrotter 18″ trolley case for 3 1/2 years and been around the world. Really pleased with it. Admired by all sorts of people. When it was new took it on a train trip across Australia and the surface slightly bubbled on top. May have been the tropical heat in Queensland. Could cope with that but now somewhat disappointed that the wheels have perished. Messaged Globetrotter last week and no one got back to me. Is there any guarantee and if so for how long. Would like to get the case mended soon as off travelling in December. Is it best to take it to their factory in Hertfordshire?

facebook_Nick Robinson.10211173857165265

sorry this is so old, but is this a 28′ case or a 30″ CASE?

David Sley

Maybe they’re making them differently now. I travel strictly first class. American Airlines has destroyed 2 30″ cases in the past 6 months. Irreparable damage. I don’t know who to be more disgusted with – Globe Trotter or AA

David Vawter

They are pricey and lovely and solful and never fail to earn admiring comments from anyone who sees them. Sadly they are not nearly as rugged as they purport to be. The very first time I checked my large packing case for a cross-country flight, it came back with a broken lock. Subsequent journeys resulted in severely dinged corners, missing rivets and ultimately a puncture wound, at which point I had to return it for refurbishing. They are dead cool, but if you don’t mind looking like a Lufthansa pilot, a Rimowa case will probably serve longer and stronger.

A Questioning Loyalist

I must say, reading your review and then the chronological series of comments… it does seem the new cases (or perhaps it’s just the new airline handlers) are getting worse.

I purchased 3 cases in 2013 and ended up with 4 additional cases over the years. That said, I have had every conceivable issue happen: wheels falling off, wheel casings falling out, trolley handles getting smashed and no longer extending, the new trolley handles breaking off (wood), the old trolley handles molting a layer of plastic, locks breaking, locks getting cut open by TSA, lids getting misaligned and not closing, corners falling off, punctures, bubbling, and cracks. I think I’ve had almost all of these issues happen at least twice. Repairs have been executed beautifully by Globetrotter UK or The Fixery in the US. But when I have had to foot the bill the costs have been astronomical. Thankfully I’ve taken to just walking directly to the baggage desk after every flight. The airlines have covered most repairs in recent years—but only the items that make the bags non functional. Many issues I would like repaired and deferred to not have to bear the burden of the repair bill.

I still adore the aesthetic of the cases. Functionally when they work I do love them—light when empty, I pack a massive amount in them, I’ve never (knock wood please) have had one explode even after all the various issues. That said, I have come to the place where I just wonder: Is all this effort to maintain a set of suitcases really worth it? If the repair shop was at the end of my street and they were easy to drop off and the cost was covered in a warranty then I would say yes, I shall continue. But for traveling as much as I do (in 2019 100k miles, and I almost always check a case) I just don’t know if this is the right luggage for me.

Would be interested in others thoughts who travel a great deal with their GTs.