Unless you’re carrying on at all times, TSA agents may or may not be throwing around your bag as if it’s a prop at their latest and greatest Crossfit class. I typically take longer trips when I travel, and I can’t believe we’ll soon be traveling as a family of three! For those reasons and more, I need a big suitcase that can carry allll the things for weeks at a time. My luggage demands are as follows:
Without further ado, here are my top picks for the best travel luggage in their various categories!
No Frills Hard Case Luggage: Victorinox
They say you never forget your first, and Victorinox was my first hard case luggage to travel with. Ole blue (pictured) and I went through a lot together from break-ups abroad to make-ups Stateside 🙂
No Frills Soft Case Luggage: Travel Pro
You can count on Travel Pro for luggage that is light as a feather, rolls smoothly, and if it’s good enough for every flight attendant I see, you know it’s good enough for me!
The Best All Around: Samsonite
This bag may look a bit aged compared to its futuristic competition, but don’t let the classic look fool you. I’ve never once had a Samsonite bag fail me, and I’ve gone through plenty. This bag also might win for most durable since a few of my hard shells have cracked at some point along the journey. Samsonite has really stepped up the hard-shell luggage game, too.
Smart Carry-On Luggage: Away
Away really does live up to the hype. These three cases have been around the world and back with me and the toughness, lightweight, lockable checked luggage rocks my world. The ejectable phone charger can charge your phone 4X!! It has been a life saver on more than one occasion. I’ll be upgrading to the bigger carry-on with a pocket next!
Honorable Mention: Beis
My assistant is celebrating her 2 year anniversary with her Beis carry-on, and she can’t stop raving about the brand. I can’t seem to catch the 29-inch Check-In in stock, but the bag attach strap, side handle with weight indicator, and travel diaper backpack to match have my attention.
Wishlist luggage: Monos
I am seeing this brand everywhere, and I’m reallllly close to being influenced. My favorite thing about this carry-on is the compartment in the front with organized pockets for all the things! I also love the sleek design and thoughtful details of this luggage.
What to Look For
- Hard vs. Soft: At the end of the day, this comes down to a personal preference. I used soft luggage for years until I switched things up with Victorinox a while back. The thing with switching to hard luggage is that you have to get used to an entirely different method of packing since instead of having one big compartment to pack in (soft luggage), you now have two smaller yet equal compartments. I tend to put toiletries and shoes in one compartment and clothes in the other for hard shell luggage. The good aspect of hard luggage: waterproof. The good aspect of soft luggage: expandability (it gives and stretches more than its hard shell counterpart).
- Wheels and how many? – 2,4,6,8! What do you appreciate? The more wheels, the smoother the roll. You can go in-line or you can choose spinners which have two wheels in each corner allowing the bag to move in any and all directions (yay for 360 degree turns!) thus requiring less work from the traveler. Go spinner every time.
- Weight – This is a big one since every single pound counts when you set it on that scale during flight check-ins! I typically try to look for a bag that weighs under 10 pounds. That becomes a bit difficult as items are added to luggage, such as battery packs in smart luggage. I was pleasantly surprised with Victorinox’s Spectra 29 8-wheel hard case coming in at just 8.8 lbs. It’s important to remember, though, that less weight could also mean less support/durability.
- Looks – This is a tough one. I loooove a nice, streamlined set of luggage that is just drool worthy to the nth degree. Take this pristine white Calpak set for example. *Le Sigh* BUT I would never buy this because it’s white and would soon be black from the dirt/grim of travel. I’ve been around the block (scratch that, world) a few times to know white luggage ain’t the smartest move. I’ve learned that function over fashion is the way to go since luggage tends to get super beat up, even in just one trip.
- Forever or For Now? – You’ve seen those bags that weigh next to nothing, right? Pretty cool, until a baggage handler throws it up and down and all around, and then BOOM. It’s broken just like that because it had zero support or durability. I go for “forever” bags, even with a bigger price tag. Nothing causes more anxiety than having a broken piece of luggage somewhere along your journey.
- Duffle Bags – Meh, only if they’re on wheels. End of discussion.
- Bag restrictions on plane – I’ve come to know that airlines vary in what they’ll allow on a plane, and I’m mostly discussing carry-on baggage here. If gate agents think a bag is too big to fit into an overhead bin, they’ll make you check it which could result in a buzz kill. Check with your airline before flying 🙂