old suitcases stored on a closet shelf

Mom and I seldom traveled, so when we wanted to visit her family in Italy, we had no luggage. But we really didn’t want to purchase new suitcases. As luck would have it, a friend helped us out.

An avid traveler in her youth, my mom’s friend Louise had beautiful luggage that she wasn’t using. Borrowing her luggage was ideal, allowing us to avoid buying new suitcases that we would have rarely used. Another option might have been used luggage from a thrift store.

When we’re not traveling, luggage just takes up space. But does it have to? One simple idea is to store out-of-season clothing or holiday decorations in unused suitcases. I use my brother’s old suitcase as a can pantry and storage for items I buy in bulk. It is practical because I can’t store everything in my small kitchenette. A suitcase that slides under the bed takes up no extra space at all!

Are you storing suitcases you don’t use anymore? Rather than leaving them to gather dust, donate them. Thrift shops and veterans’ organizations usually accept them if they’re still sturdy. I also like the idea of giving them to local foster care organizations or a homeless shelter.

Suitcases that are no longer in shape for traveling can still be useful. If you stack vintage suitcases, they can serve as an interesting night table or end table. With some DIY skills, you can turn them into ingenious furniture. Pinterest has lots of inspiring ideas for crafting furniture like tables and cabinets from old suitcases.

Even an old, beat-up suitcase with rollers can be used in the garden for lugging heavy bags of soil or gardening tools. With broken wheels, it could still serve as storage in a basement or under the bed.

Even though we can’t recycle suitcases, we can extend their usefulness. By getting creative, we can find ways to reuse, repurpose, and upcycle so many of our possessions instead of just throwing them away.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.