How to Deal With Broken Luggage
Luggage doesn’t last forever, but it can have the annoying habit of breaking when you’re right in the middle of a trip. It’s frustrating and normally happens at the worst possible moment.
Sometimes it’s just the suitcase giving up, or sometimes it gets damaged during a flight. If that’s the case, you can claim compensation from your airline or insurer.
Before you throw the whole suitcase away in anger and head out to buy a new one—with negative connotations for both your bank balance and the environment— you may want to consider some ways to salvage the situation.
Whether you can fix the problem or not will depend on what’s gone wrong.
Some of these fixes are semi-permanent; some will just tide you over for long enough to get you home so you have time to think more carefully about your replacement purchase.
Read on for my handy guide to dealing with your broken luggage, depending on the specific problem you’re experiencing.
A suitcase is pretty much useless if the zipper gives up. Thankfully, there are plenty of little hacks you can use to fix it, whether the zipper is stuck, the teeth won’t close, or the pull has broken off.
Check out this Life Hacker article for an easy-to-follow guide. It focuses on problems with clothes, but the DIY fixes work wonderfully for suitcase zips too, such as using a graphite pencil as a lubricant for the zip or replacing a pull with a paperclip.
If the two sides won’t knit together, you’ll probably find that one tooth is bent, which can be put back in place with a pair of pliers.
You can always buy entirely new zips and attempt to attach them to your bag if you’re handy with a needle and thread, but if the situation calls for that then I’d recommended botching it up, for example using straps to close your bag, until you can get home and get the help of a professional.
Telescoping handles are great, but they often get stuck or bent. If your handle is stuck, try lubricant like an oil to give it a helping hand.
The fact that these handles bend easily often means that they can be hammered back into place easily. You don’t need a hammer, any hard object will do.
If the release mechanism stops working, make sure you give it a good clean before deciding that a new handle is necessary.
If you need an entirely new handle, you can try purchasing and attaching it yourself, but they will probably be hard to find and tricky to assemble. That might be another job best left to those who really know what they’re doing.
If you have a fabric or soft-sided suitcase, you’ll probably end up with a rip or a seam that’s coming apart at some point. Try to avoid overstuffing in order to prevent this. If you can get your hands on duct tape, that’s a good way of temporarily patching up holes.
Everyone should travel with a sewing kit, but in this case, a normal thread might not cut it. Dental floss can actually double as an extra-strong thread— it’s good for more than just keeping your teeth clean! Safety pins are also worth trying.
The Hard Case
If your suitcase is plastic, not fabric, dents can be an issue. Some people claim that a hot hairdryer can make a hard case malleable enough to push the dent back into place, but exercise caution with this, and be careful of those fumes.
If your hard case is cracked, not just dented, you might consider using a carbon fiber repair kit or a glue like Sugru glue, which people have had success with in the past.
If none of these options work for you, covering the hole up with something as simple as a trash bag is a way to get you from point A to point B.
If your wheels are getting sticky or squeaky, the first thing you need to do is give them a good clean.
Luckily, replacement wheels are generally easy to find from a reputable manufacturer and relatively simple to attach. You can always find videos on YouTube to help you.
There are plenty of replacement parts for dual and single wheel types on Amazon. This is something you should consider before you decide to buy a new suitcase; it’ll cost you a lot less to just replace the wheels on the bag you already have.
The good thing about an issue with the wheels is that, as long as your suitcase isn’t too heavy, you can just carry it and use trolleys when maneuvering around the airport.
If the lining has given up or any pockets have ripped, a needle and thread is the best option to try first.
If that won’t work and you don’t want to be fishing around inside your suitcase, invest in some packing cubes to solve the problem.
Once You’re Home…
Although these quick fixes are great to keep you going when you’re traveling, when you get home, always try and get your luggage fixed professionally before throwing it away.
The materials that luggage is made of often aren’t great for the environment; it will only sit in a landfill if thrown away, so repairing it is always the best approach. This is another reason why buying cheap luggage sets isn’t always the solution.
There are shoe repair shops that also do luggage repair, and the company that made your bag will often offer a repair service. Check to see if it’s covered under your warranty.
Here are some of the brands that are known for making suitcases that last…