don't leave home without one

IF YOU ARE going away for a weekend break and like to travel light, a trolley case will fit in the overhead locker and will save you all the hassle of baggage reclaim. The best ones have lots of handy pockets, compartments and straps to help cram all your belongings in. There are two things you need to consider when you buy one of these cases: all the airlines have different weight restrictions; and cabin size limits. This means, for example, that while American Airlines will accept a 20kg, 58x33xl8cm bag, on Lufthansa the size is 46x33x21cms and weight is 8kg. So, before you buy a cabin trolley case, pick a favourite airline.

Carlton Zest Trolley Case pounds 49.99

You can spot this case a mile off - it is bright banana yellow. It has large wheels, so they will not need replacing for a while. I liked the handy pockets of varying sizes at the front and inside it had a good, net-style pocket, handy for putting dirty clothes in. I thought that the handles were a bit flimsy - they are part-made of fabric - and I'm not sure how hard-wearing they would be over time. This is for anyone who wants to be noticed, but the bright colour takes a bit of getting used to.

For stockists, call Carlton (tel: 0181-805 1111). Rating: 6/10

Samsonite Spark 550 Range pounds 75, Jet Age pounds 99

Very practical. A really neat size, acceptable to all the airlines. It fits easily into the cabin overhead lockers. I found the two outside pockets really spacious and great for stuffing in all the bits and pieces that I bought at the airport. The locking system is also perfect for anyone who has a tendency to lose case keys, as you can choose your own three combination numbers. The pull-along handle extends quite high, so I did not have to bend over at all. This case is perfect for anyone who is travelling overnight or if they do not want the hassle of carrying any hand luggage. For weekend stays it is worth considering the larger sizes. These cost pounds 79 and pounds 99.

For stockists, call Samsonite (tel: 01895 855755). Rating: Best Overall Case

Brics Troller around pounds 240

A very stylish Mulberry look-a-like case with leather and gold trimmings. It has a useful strap for attaching other bags to and I used this to carry my duty-frees. The two large zip pockets at the front were the biggest of all the cases. The main fault with this case is that the extendible pull handle does not pull up very far at all. I had to bend over to pull it along and after a while ended up with backache. This case is for the stylish traveller who is not price led.

For stockists, call Brics (tel: 0171-924 2166). Rating: 6/10

Antler Airlight Overnight pounds 79

Unlike the other cases, this one has harder sides but, unfortunately, no pockets on the outside at all. It did, however, have lots of pockets on the inside and even detachable bags. And it is possible to clip other bags on to the outside of the case, similar to the Brics case. It was the largest of all the cases I tested so you would need to check that it is accepted by the airline on which you plan to travel. The pull- up handle does not come up very high so I had to bend over a bit. This is a good all-round case and, because of the hard sides, it will withstand lots of battering.

For stockists, call Antler (tel: 0161-764 5241). Rating: 8/10

Delsey Helium Business Trolley

Suitcase pounds 85

This trolley bag has lots of pockets that you can pack things in and very useful dividing sections inside to keep socks from getting mixed up with ties. There is one large outside pocket which can be used as a mini travelling office by workaholics. I managed to fit my laptop computer, business cards, pens, documents and paper into it comfortably. The main case is also a good size so you can pack in all your clothes without getting them creased. This case is ideal for the business traveller who is going away for a night or two and needs a good, practical case with lots of room for paperwork.

For stockists, call Delsey (tel: 0181-232 9890). Rating: 9/10

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