What To Do With Old Luggage?

Luggage pieces like suitcases, duffle bags, and travel backpacks go through a lot over the years. They get tossed on conveyor belts, squeezed into cargo holds of planes, and packed to the brim with all your belongings inside. It’s no surprise that they won’t last forever, especially if you travel a lot and maybe don’t tend to buy luggage for hundreds of dollars.

Sticking to affordable suitcases is absolutely fine, but you will end up replacing them more often. So what should you do when the day has come, and you’re getting rid of your suitcase?

If it’s still in decent condition, is there a better option than just throwing it away? Luckily there is, and this complete guide on how to donate old suitcases and what else you can do with them will help you find the perfect second home for your luggage.

Where To Donate Suitcases:

If you’re thinking of donating suitcases or other luggage items, you first need to make sure that it’s still in good condition. You cannot donate luggage that is broken or damaged, although minor faults like a few scrapes should still be acceptable. Here are some things you can do with your old luggage.

1. Donate your old luggage to kids in foster care

A lot of children in foster care have to move around frequently and usually leave their homes unexpectedly. This means that they rarely have a suitcase or bag with them and are forced to rely on what their foster families will give them.

Giving your old but still usable luggage to a foster care agency will ensure that the suitcase or bag can still be appreciated in the future and might just make a child’s day a little bit brighter. There are several non-profits in the US that focus on second-hand luggage, so have a look at whether there is a collection point near you.

At the beginning of the year, the popular luggage brand Briggs & Riley announced that they would give anyone who donates a suitcase through the non-profit organization Comfort Cases up to $100 in vouchers towards their online store. Note that this special offer is not valid all of the time, and terms and conditions apply. Double-check their website to see if you are eligible and what months this deal is available.

2. Donate your old suitcases and luggage to a second-hand shop or goodwill

If you’re unable to donate your luggage to foster care, you should still look into giving your suitcase away to a charitable organization or good cause. Have a look at second-hand shops near you and ask whether they are taking donations.

Since good luggage can be expensive, suitcases are usually a popular item. Goodwill is also very active with luggage donation, although this will depend on the location. Prioritize donating to places that are part of a non-profit organization so any funds can go to charity.

3. Donate your suitcases to a homeless or woman’s shelter

Especially in big cities, there will be a good amount of women’s shelters, homeless shelters, or youth projects that are always looking for donations. These charities frequently work with people who have lost everything, so every little bit helps. Your suitcase might not be necessary for you anymore but someone else could still get a lot of use out of it. Again, make sure your luggage is in good condition before you donate it.

What To Do Before You Donate Your Old Suitcases

Before you can donate your used luggage to places like foster care agencies or shelters, you need to make sure it’s in good condition. This is an excellent time to give your suitcase a once-over and clean it out. Make sure there are no personal belongings left inside, and don’t forget to check any small inside pockets or hidden zippers that you might have forgotten about.

If it’s a suitcase, check whether it has a zipper in the lining, which is always a place where small items can accidentally get lost. Wipe everything down and maybe spray with a scented spray or fabric softener to make your bag feel fresh and like-new.

What Else Can You Do With Old Luggage Other Than Donation?

Sometimes shelters or charities aren’t currently taking any donations, or perhaps you can’t find one near you. In that case, don’t just throw away your used suitcases, though! There are still some other options you can consider.

1. Give it to a friend

Just because you don’t want your old luggage anymore doesn’t mean that it’s worthless. Ask around and see whether there are any friends or family members who could use your suitcases or bags.

Also, maybe consider if you don’t want to keep it after all. Luggage isn’t only useful for traveling. It can be a great way of storing things in your attic or basement, for example, or maybe be helpful for collecting old clothing you don’t need anymore, which you can then easily take to a second-hand store without having to unpack it.<

2. Have it fixed

If you cannot donate your old luggage to foster care or charity because it is broken, then why not have it fixed? It’s easy to always buy something new if an item breaks, but it’s also terrible for the environment and expensive in the long run.

Why not give your suitcase a second chance and take it to a local repair store? This mostly makes sense for high-quality luggage, but even a cheap suitcase could be worth repairing for minor issues like a broken zipper. You might even be able to do basic repairs like a hole in the fabric at home if you have sewing supplies.

3. Upcycle your suitcase

If you have a particularly nice piece of luggage, why not turn it into something completely different? Spend an afternoon on Pinterest and let yourself be inspired by all the possibilities for home decor or functional upcycling projects.

Maybe your old suitcase could become a dog bed or a wall-mounted shelf. You’ll be surprised what you can do even without needing excessive knowledge of tools and crafting. Invite some of your friends over for drinks and then spend the evening painting your old suitcase to turn it into an exciting new piece of art that can serve a function and hold objects or clothes in a closet or on a shelf.

4. Have a garage sale

A used suitcase is a great garage sale item and might even make you a little bit of money that can go towards your next suitcase. Selling your used suitcases will work best if they’re branded and in good condition. Budget luggage that didn’t cost much to begin with, will be much harder to sell and will most likely be more suitable for donation.

Can You Recycle Old Luggage?

The answer is yes and no; it depends on the individual components of the suitcase. Metal clasps, zippers, plastic handles, and rubber wheels can be recycled but you will need to disassemble it first. Researching whether the individual components are recyclable through curbside programs or contacting a local recycler to see if they offer a bulk pickup program is the best way to know for sure.

Alternatively, you could try fixing it, upcycling it, or having a garage sale with it. If nothing else works, keep an eye out for curbside recycling options that take unusual items like luggage pieces.

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  1. I’ve been on many church mission trips to 3rd world countries. I usually take donations of books, clothing, school supplies and small toys. I transport these items in old suitcases and leave them behind. There is always someone who is glad for a second hand suitcase.

    1. Great idea! Thanks for sharing. If I may, not sure if you are aware, but it’s insulting to use the term 3rd world. Implies that the people are less than. Developing countries, or countries in the global south (assuming they are), are more appropriate terms.

    2. Don’t bring clothes and toys etc, it undermines t he local economy and you do more harm than good. Buy those things from within the country to aid vendors

  2. Old suitcases that no longer can withstand travel are perfect for underbed storage; for holding family mementos and papers; for serving as a temporary quick room pick-up before guests arrive; holding toys, dressups, puzzles and their parts, sewing/mending/crafts projects, etc.

    Suitcases can also be repaired. Try a shoe repair shop or upholsterer.

    I have taken less than perfect suitcases when I travel to places where they can be economically repaired. My family has had zippers replaced, wheels replaced, holes sewn up and luggage otherwise ready for a landfill is restored! Places in Central and South America and certain Asian cities and towns are what I have in mind. Not only does this prevent a suitcase entering the landfill, it helps the local economy by paying a craftsperson a fair amount for their work.

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