Unless you’re carrying-on at all times, TSA agents will most likely be throwing around your bag as if it’s a prop at their latest and greatest Crossfit class. Because I typically take longer trips and thus need a big suitcase that can carry various items for weeks at a time, I need pieces of luggage that are:
Without further ado, here are my top picks for best travel luggage in their various categories.
Award for 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 and I went through a lot together as you can see from its many scratches. I’ll also throw out that Victorinox does garment bags well.
Award for No Frills Soft Case Luggage: 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 as all of my hard shells have cracked at some point along the journey. Like anything else, nothing lasts forever.
Award for best Smart Checked Luggage: Raden – Equipped with a built-in charger, GPS technology, and a scale that helps travelers weigh their bag to avoid overage fees, I’m kinda in love with Raden AND this hunter green gloss color. You can spot it from a mile away at baggage claim. Score.
Award for Smart Carry-On Luggage: Bluesmart – My favorite thing about this carry-on is the laptop compartment in the front! I never go anywhere without it, so it’s nice to have options on how to travel with such an important piece to my business. That plus the fact that the suitcase can charge my phone is just brilliant. Bluesmart, thanks for being a cut above most.
Award for Best Looking (sorry, had to) Luggage: Tumi – The best way I can describe Tumi is drool-worthy. I had to dress it up in its Christmas best to really paint the perfect picture. We go together like two birds of a feather <3
Wishlist luggage: Travel Pro – When all of your flight attendants generally carry the same brand of luggage, you know something is up! Travel Pro is definitely worth checking out. It’s officially on my wishlist.
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. Good aspect of hard luggage: waterproof. 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. 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 weight 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 🙂