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We are lucky enough to be able to do a fair bit of travelling and we have gone through some suitcases in our time. We have never really had what I would call a huge suitcase because we are light travellers but we decided to get some bigger ones for our three week trip around the Far East. Rather than having to squidge fewer things into a medium sized case, we thought we'd treat ourselves to some bigger ones. After doing quite a bit of research and deciding that we didn't want to spend a fortune because we didn't think we'd get a massive amount of use out of them, we settled on two of these International Traveller ones from Argos. To be honest, I wish we hadn't bothered because they turned out to be a case of 'you get what you pay for'.
The cases are dark purple all over (and I mean all over, fixtures 'n' all) with a lighter purple floral pattern on the front. I don't really like the colour or the pattern really, I think it looks a bit like curtains my Grandma would have, but slightly naffer. When you are on a budget though, you don't get much choice and these aren't available in any other colour or style. The good thing about them is that they do stand out on the carousel when you get to the other end and so it makes picking them up a lot quicker.
===How Does It Measure Up?===
The case is not expandable, although it is rather big. It is available in three different sizes, which is good if you want to buy a matching set, but you do have to buy the cases individually. The one we have is what they describe as large and it measures in at 73cm high, 46cm wide and 23cm deep. We spent a lot of time researching the size because we wanted to make sure that it wouldn't be too big to go on any of the airlines that we were travelling on, particularly the internal routes that would be on smaller aeroplanes. We didn't have a problem at all in that respect and we found that the airlines that did have restrictions did so with a total measurement for the circumference of the case rather than individual measurements all the way round, and this case falls comfortably inside the limit for all the airlines we checked. It is also suitable for US based airlines, who we found seem to have tighter restrictions than in many other countries.
The suitcase has a total capacity of 77 litres which is massive. I fit pretty much all of my wardrobe (including what seemed like a million and one pairs of shoes) in the case and still had plenty of room for souvenirs on the way back! It is very roomy inside and we found them easy to pack. There is enough room too that the housing for the handle doesn't cause any problems. The case weighs about 4kg empty, which we thought was pretty good and meant that the case itself didn't eat into our full allowance too much.
===Can It Stand Up To A Baggage Handler's Beating?===
Everything so far seems pretty good about the case, but unfortunately that is where the benefits end. The case is extremely flimsy and hasn't stood the test of time at all; in fact we could see it was becoming misshapen even after the first use. I know that when you leave cases in the care of the airline, they can take a bit of a beating, but we expected this one to last more than one flight even if it is a cheap one.
We were extra disappointed by this because the lady in the shop when we bought it said that she had the case and had had it for five years and it was still as good as new. I can only conclude that she was telling porkie pies to make the sale or she has had it for five years but never actually used it because we've had these less than a year and they have already pretty much bitten the dust. The material it is made out of isn't great; it feels very flimsy and the overall quality of it isn't great either. The stitching on ours looks like it might come apart at any moment, even after such a short period of time.
The casing of the suitcase is soft and it seems to have some kind of cardboard type material inside it to keep the shape. Obviously this is not sturdy enough by any stretch of the imagination. I have nothing against soft sided suitcases - in fact that is all I've ever had in the past and they have been really good - but this one is just far too soft. When you fill it with clothes and things (even keeping it well under the 25kg luggage allowance usually allowed) and then pick it up by the handle on the sides, it pulls the case out of shape. It was very annoying that it did this before we even took it anywhere. After the first couple of times it did go back to shape, but it is now permanently bowed at the side, looking a bit like the case is bulging at the seams, even when there is nothing in it.
===Any Extra Features?===
The case it low on features, but to be honest we didn't really expect any when we were looking at the budget line. It does have a couple of things though that you would pretty much expect from any case in this day and age. For example it has what they rather grandly call 'clothes retaining elasticated packing straps', known to normal people as those straps you get inside the case to hold your clothes in place. They do the job they are supposed, although they are only really beneficial if you fill your case completely. We were only three quarters full the first time we used it and the clothes ended up all squished to one side.
The case also has interlocking zips which are good for sticking your lock through. The holes in the zips are big enough that you can fit all locks through I would imagine, certainly our big heavy duty ones fit comfortably.
There is also one internal pocket and one external pocket. The one on the outside is along the front of the case and very narrow, it isn't much good for anything to be honest and you can't lock it either because there is only one zip on it. The internal pocket is good for putting all your small items in although it is on the inside of the case's lid so I would put anything in it that can be broken.
The case has other usual features including a surprisingly sturdy retractable handle, considering the general quality of it. It has two wheels rather than four as I prefer.
===Availability, Price and Value===
These cases are available from Argos and they have been for some time, I think they are one of Argos' permanent fixtures so it should be available if you want it. We bought two of them and paid £39.99. They weren't on special offer at the time although you could (and still can) get a half price accessory when you buy them; the choices include luggage scales, a pair of luggage locks, some multi-coloured straps and a passport cover.
The cases are, at the time of writing this review, available for half price. Somehow they have worked out that half price is around the £27 mark. Either that is some very creative maths or they are going on the RRP. I wouldn't pay the RRP, but in my honest opinion, the cases aren't worth any of the sale prices either because they just aren't durable enough.
I think the obvious answer is no. OK the case is cheap and they are very roomy, but they aren't at all sturdy and they don't represent good value for money. If I were you, I'd save up a bit more money and get something better. Like I said, you do get what you pay for and in this case, that amounts to not much.