Open Thread: Best Travel Bags?

Victorinox - Werks Traveler 4.0 - WT Ultra Light Slim Wheeled Boarding Upright Carry-On (Emerald/Black) - Bags and LuggageWhich is the best rolling suitcase?  We were traveling this weekend (home to Ohio to see the fam and celebrate Easter), which meant that yet again I got to deal with my horrible carry-on rolling bag. I got it a few years ago during what I thought was an amazing sale at Macy’s– if memory serves I paid less than $100 for what was originally a $430-ish bag. The logo fell off the first time I traveled with it. Since then, all of the zippers have broken at least once (some irreparably), the fabric hasn’t held up well, and it’s generally become a pain to push around. In other words: time for a new bag.

But I’m feeling a bit gunshy from my last travel experience, so I thought I’d ask — readers, what are your favorite rolling bags? My brother has the Victorinox Werks (pictured above, available at Zappos on sale for $239) and while he likes it, I’m still curious about what you ladies have to say.

In “things that work” news, I still love my LeSportsac Large Weekender bags — you can shove them into that useless front pocket on rolling bags when empty, and then use them if you need to carry back a lot of new purchases, gifts, or souvenirs. They’re particularly nice because you can lock the zippered main compartment (so it won’t burst open while the bag is being handled), but keep the key on the zipper so the TSA can hopefully get into it.

Readers, what are your favorite bags for travel? Have any other great travel tips?

Comments

  1. I’ve had my Travelpro for 10 years and it’s held up well. That said, I rarely check bags, so it hasn’t been subject to the abuse of most cargo holds and conveyor belts.

    • Seconding this. I also have Travelpro luggage which has held up for a decade. Mine’s come through hard battering among checked bags as well, and is only now beginning to show real signs of wear around the edges of the frame of the most-used (smaller) bag.

    • Claire says:

      Great to hear, my new Travelpro was just delivered. I wish this thread had come up last week when I was researching, but great to see some confirmation regardless.

      • TravelPro is really good. Delsey’s also pretty good in my experience. And I have a Briggs & Riley 22 inch suitcase that is amazing. I also have something rather random with a dolphin on the logo that has held up amazing well going on a decade now. If it wasn’t for cat scratches, it would look like new.

        • caesia says:

          I’ll second Briggs & Riley.

          • SF Bay Associate says:

            Third B&R. I have a 20″ lightweight non-expandable one which I have used heavily for 3 years, and got my DH the 20″ widebody suiter as a present after he kept vocally wishing he had a nice one like mine. They are virtually indestructible, well designed (bars are on the outside of the suitcase, for example, so your interior has a flat bottom for packing ease), and we never get side-eye from the domestic flight attendants regarding whether our bags are carry-on compliant.

          • I’ve had Briggs & Riley luggage since 1996, when my grandparents got me my first one as a graduation gift. I still use that bag frequently (I travel around 5-10 times a year.) I’ve added to the collection over the years and have been really pleased with the quality and construction. They are sometimes on sale on Rue La La, luggage stores, and similar places so you can get good deals if you’re patient. But it’s worth it even if you have to pay full price, I think.

          • I love my Briggs and Riley 20″ expandable. It always fits in the overhead bin, and the flat bottom actually makes a big difference in the amount of stuff you can fit in, and how wrinkled it gets.

          • Third B&R. The only branks that has a lifetime warranty, no questions asked, even if the airlines damages your luggage. I will bequeath this suitcase, or its successors, to my grandkids, no joke.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, highly, highly recommend Briggs & Riley. My parents got me my first piece when I was in college more than 10 years ago, and have slowly added to the set (and given my husband a number of his own pieces) for Christmases and birthdays ever since. My favorites are our two rolling suitcases which both expand to nearly double in size, which is very handy if you want to carry on in the first leg of your trip, then shop at your destination and check it on the way home. That first bag has seen a ton of wear and tear over the decade and is still in fantastic shape…plus, the warranty can’t be beat.

        • Bluejay says:

          Second Delsey – mine’s been checked all over the world, lost a couple times, and still holds up like a champ.

    • MissJackson says:

      I’ve had my TravelPro for about 10 years, too, and it still looks (amost) new.

    • backtowork says:

      I have a Travelpro bag that I have taken, literally, around the world. It has taken a beating, and it is still holding up and looking good. No broken zippers, no missing hardware. The model I have can be unzipped to make it larger, should you do a little too much shopping on your trip. I have also had good luck with Baggalini bags — they’re light, zip up into a very small envelope, and are handy to have when you need an extra tote.

      • Agree with both of these. My Travelpros have been to Tahiti, Australia, Germany, England, Mexico, Tanzania as well as to plenty of meetings, moves, and visits to family across the country. I’ve never had a Baggalini suitcase–the carryon I ordered turned out to be REALLY small–but I’ve gotten their purses and love them. They are well made and the many pockets and dividers are well thought-out, not the willy-nilly stitching of useless “organizers” I’ve seen in some bags.

        • PS, I’m not sure when I got the Travelpro, think it was mid-90s, don’t foresee getting another for a long time.

  2. My dad gave me a nice bag to carry all of my stuff to work, includeing BOTH my PC and my gym clotheing. It is NOT a designer bag, but so what?

    I am VERY happy that the new bag lock’s b/c the manageing partner was busy rummageing thru my old gym bag. FOOEY on him. I do NOT want him toucheing my gym stuff.

  3. I’m glad this came up. I am shopping for a good backpack travel bag. My fiance and I travel often, but I am tired of taking a rolling bag. A backpack is much easier to throw on. Does anyone have any recommendations?

    This bag would need to be very durable and have great back support.

    Thanks!

    • Maddie Ross says:

      My husband has an awesome one that he got at REI. I can’t remember the brand, but it’s meant for travel, not outdoor activities. It’s got a huge main pocket that expands out and smaller front ones. Nicely padded straps and it has an optional waist strap if you really packed it heavy. It fits in the overhead compartment on most planes, but does have to be gate-checked on puddle jumpers.

    • Nancy P says:

      Eagle Creek, available at REI and probably other stores. I have traveled to Turkey, Guatemala, and Chile with it. Very comfortable (have the store adjust it for you, they’re pros) and crazy durable. I got it after I used my friend’s Eagle Creek, which made it through TWO round-the-world trips.

      Oh and get the women’s version — it’s designed for our frames.

    • I have a Rick Steves one (order from Rick Steves website). I’ve taken more than 200 flights in the last few years, and I LOVE it. Keeps me comfortable and organized, has held up extremely well, and, I feel so agile and portable. Also, I’ll put in a plug for the Eagle Creek packing organizer things, which keeps my clothes from getting wrinkled and keeps them organized.

    • Usually Lurks says:

      I have an Eagle Creek Solo Journey pack that I’ve carried around for 15 years. It’s sturdy and washable, but the buckle on the waist belt slips off occasionally and I have to get it replaced at REI.

    • karenpadi says:

      I’d say your best bet is to go to a camping store and just start trying backpacks on. Everyone is a little different.

      I really love women’s backpacks–I used to go backpacking with a men’s frame and eventually decided never again. Then I borrowed a women’s backpack for Europe. The difference is incredible.

      I’ve noticed that women’s backpacks have less volume than men’s backpacks. I ended up bargaining with my male travel companions for them to take my bulky (but light) items.

    • I purchased this bag from eBags for non-business adventure travel: Weekender eTech Convertible (link to follow). They also have one that has a laptop sleeve (Motherlode Weekender) but it is bigger and may be too big for short women like me.

      Someone here posted a wheeled backpack carryone from Patagonia called Patagonia MLS Wheelie, which has some good reviews but since I already go the eBag I can’t justify it but it has backpack straps plus wheels.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks everyone.

      I didn’t even realize bags were made for women and men. My torso is kind of short so my problem has always been long bulky bags.

      I’ll check out the recommendations and go from there! Yeah!

    • I have an Osprey one (that is actually carry on size but fits a ton!) that has a lifetime warranty. It’s been all over the world with me, is comfortable, and very durable.

    • Patagonia makes a bag called an MLC. It has a shoulder strap but can also be used as a backpack. On your shoulder it looks like a really big messenger bag. It holds a ton – I have used it for a full week trip.

    • a lawyer says:

      Osprey makes some great backpacks, from daypacks to large backpacking packs, in women’s size range. REI and EMS both carry these.

  4. Michele says:

    I have always used atlantic bags. The one I currently have they make matching accessories. I have my set in blue and my husband has his set in black. We got ours a few years ago as a wedding gift from our Kohls registry. Here is the website with similar styled collection. http://www.atlanticluggage.com/collection.cfm?collection=Compass%202

    • Herbie says:

      I’m still using an Atlantic suitcase that I got for high school graduation in the late 90s. It’s been around the world with me and on countless flights. I need to replace one or two zipper pulls that came off, but other than that, it has held up remarkably well. I’m betting I could get another 5 years from it.

    • a passion for fashion says:

      my husband and I were just commenting in the airport on the way home yesterday that our Atlantic bags, which we got before we got married 7 years ago, have held up very, very well. They are budget friendly too.

      For less budget friendly bags, however, our Tumi bags have also been great.

  5. Gail the Goldfish says:

    I like my Samsonite Spinner.

    Speaking of carry-ons, Airtran recently changed their carryon size allowance to be a couple of inches smaller. I have no idea if they’re enforcing it, though.

    • I love my Samsonite Spinner suitcase! Super easy to maneuver around the airport with. Have traveled with it on a weekly basis for 3+ years.

    • I love my Samsonite Spinner, too! It doesn’t weigh you down like bags with only two wheels and is the easiest thing I’ve found to get through the subway turnstiles. If you are cheap like me, and take public transit to the airport, you just have to make sure you hang on to it once you’re on the subway/train. I’ve had mine for 5+ years and its still in great shape, although I only travel a few times a year.

      • darby says:

        same here. best suitcase i’ve ever had & i do a lot of biz travel. i also second kat’s rec on the le sportsac weekender — it is a great toss in bag for extras & i use it all the time for weekends away.

    • Ellie says:

      Agreed on the Samsonite. Love. And also agree on K’s mention that you need to hang onto it– otherwise it will go spinning right around the bus at every stoplight.

    • Houda says:

      I got a spinner and it is great when you have to glide through airport fast

    • big dipper says:

      This!

    • Bluejay says:

      I like my Samsonite Spinner too, for the convenience of it, but the zippers suck. I have the carry on size, and if you put even slightly too much stuff in it they split in the middle. Next time I’ll probably go for a better brand, but definitely stick with a spinner.

  6. I have a rolling bag from Costco (guess it is Kirkland brand) that still looks brand new several years later – and I check it every time I travel (I like to travel light in the airport, and not deal with carry on luggage).

    • anon in tejas says:

      I have this one, and I have found that it’s super durable!

    • We have two of these in our family and I use them for business travel. I have checked them but prefer to carry-on, but they are durable for checked luggage. I think ours are about four years old.

    • Mabel says:

      Yea on the Costco Kirkland Signature roller bags, they come in several sizes, are very well made and inexpensive! We went to Tuscany with a group of friends last year and our Kirkland luggage held up better than everyone else’s including one couple’s brand new $400+ bag (sorry I forget the brand) that had a wheel fall off! We had a good bit of gloating over that one. We always check our bags, hate to deal with carry-ons, and travel frequently. Both bags (big and small roller bags) still look brand new and have had no problems at all. They may be available in-store only, I just looked for a link to share and our bags are not on costco.com.

  7. M in CA says:

    Second the Samsonite spinner. It works much better on hard floors v. carpeting, but the greatly-reduced strain on my shoulder is worth it (I avoid checking luggage whenever possible, but am able to cram a lot into the roll-on). Like Kat, I also love the Sportsac weekender.

    For toiletries, I recently got the toiletries SpacePak (sp?) from Flight 001. My love for this case knows no bounds. Highly, highly recommended.

  8. A couple years ago I bought the small (22″) Eagle Creek wheeled bag. I waited for the summer travel sale at the container store and got it for an okay price. It’s pretty small, so it very easily fits into the overhead bin. It also has held up very well. I use some of the Eagle Creek Pack-it cubes and it makes the most of the small space so I can easily take it on a week-long trip with some efficient packing. The only downside is that it’s has tracked wheels, so doesn’t spin. Otherwise, it has been my favorite luggage thus far.

    • Duchess says:

      Second Eagle Creek. I bought the 22″and 28″ for my dad, and ended up traveling for 4 weeks straight so I borrowed it from him. Loved it all so much, I bought the same ones for myself. Now my mom plans to buy them for my sister and brother-in-law. They were recommended to me by a bunch of military friends that travel CONSTANTLY. The bags apparently hold up well on C-17s and commercial planes…

    • Love the Eagle Creek pack-it cubes! They have revolutionized my traveling life. Separating different types of items into different cubes makes it easier to avoid having your suitcase (or even your hotel dresser drawers, if you unpack) turn into a wrinkly mess. I highly recommend them!

      • Houda says:

        I have some packing cubes from Victorinox and they are quite useful

      • I love packing cubes too. I got mine from eBags. They make packing and using a suitcase easier plus I worry about being embarrassed if my luggage ever breaks open or gets searched, so they eliminate some of that worry. They also help soft-sided adventure luggage contents from shifting and make packing so much more organized.

      • SF Bay Associate says:

        Agreed. The Eagle Creek pack-it cubes were a revelation on our backpacking-honeymoon. Kept everything so organized, even in a giant backpack.

    • Third Eagle Creek. Have bought three of their bags over the last 6 years because of back and neck issues. They are incredibly light and durable.

    • ooo, i’ve been dreaming of having Eagle Creek luggage for years, the tip about the summer sale is awesome! thank you!

      • Duchess says:

        I don’t know if you’ll get this or not, but I bought it from Container Store during their luggage sale as well. BUT … turns out Amazon had the same price at Christmas, so you may want to check there as well…

  9. Love my Delsey hard-side spinner. Super light, fits in all overhead bins. I would highly recommend spinners (4-wheels) to anyone. I fly at least a few times a month and its so convenient – won’t tip over when you let go – can push it in front of you, to the side, behind, etc.

    • PharmaGirl says:

      I don’t know what brand my bag is (random TJ Maxx purchase) but I LOVE that it has 4 wheels. It’s so much easier to lug around and I never get tripped up or trip anyone else.

  10. Oh goodie. I have had the same Eddie Bauer for Target hard sided rolling carry-on for 15 years and I don’t want to part with it. It has held up well, but I am convinced that one of these days it will disintegrate when I pull it out of the overhead bin and send my underthings raining down on unsuspecting passengers.

    I have looked at Travelpro and Samsonite and both seem to devote too much space to structure and would fit half of what I could fit in my old one. Thoughts?

    • I was just looking at some of the recommendations and had the same thought. I’ve always used a rolling duffle for my checked luggage because I (confession) often shop for shoes when I’m in larger cities (especially NYC) and I want to be able to take home the shoes in the boxes and pack around them. I’ve gotten where I’ll take a big lightweight tote to carry home the boxes and pack the shoes in my luggage but I’m often really pressed for space on the way home.

      My carry-on is a relatively small (19-20 in) rolling city bag that holds my laptop and a lot of other stuff. I wish it were prettier but it works really well – even goes under the seat on tight flights. I ordered it from JCPenney.

  11. Danielle D. says:

    I’ve had great luck with a kenneth cole roller bag (expandable) bought about 10 years ago at TJ Maxx.

  12. SpaceMountain says:

    My latest is the 22″ High Sierra El Series (on Amazon for $89). Just don’t get the green — it’s super ugly. Anyway, I like this suitcase because it fits in the overhead of most of the planes I fly, and it’s made of some sort of foam frame, so it’s light enough that I can actually lift it myself. With wheeled suitcases, I no longer hold any hopes of durability. The wheels will eventually break, and it costs more to fix the wheels than to replace the suitcase. For no-wheeled suitcases, which actually might last a long time, I love Red Oxx. Their bags are great and last forever, but I need something with wheels for work travel.

  13. michelle says:

    I have the same bag as your brother and it’s been great for domestic travel. However, I do a lot of international and it is NOT carry-on size for intra-Europe trips, and depending on the airport they often make me check it on direct return flights too. I bought a European-size one from Delsey and have been delighted with it, it seems to hold almost as much and carries on everywhere. Plus I got a nice blue color which is indestructible and stands out – my Victorinox is black which was what I wanted for a carry-on, but when I have to check it it looks like eight million other bags, so now I get color even for carry-ons because sometimes I end up with so much stuff coming home with me I have to check a bag anyway (great tip on stuffing a weekender into that useless front pocket!).

  14. scarf lady says:

    Briggs-Riley is my go-to luggage. Fantastic high-quality luggage, and a REAL lifetime, no-questions-asked warranty. Really! Amazing customer service. Their pieces are more expensive, but since you will have them forever they’re worth it. Much better customer service and quality than TUMI, and if your boss or clients travel a lot odds are they’ve heard of Briggs-Riley or are using it themselves. An under-the-radar, “in the know” brand that has a small, but dedicated, following.

  15. I’m adding a vote for Samsonite spinners. I got a matching pair at TJ Maxx for about $170 total and they’ve held up well for the past 5 years.

    Speaking of luggage, do most people go for colors or neutrals/black? I prefer colors because I’ve had airlines lose my bags more than once.

    • PharmaGirl says:

      I prefer a color. My current bag is red and it’s super easy to spot.

    • Houda says:

      My carry on is purple.
      Whenever I have to use a big bag (e.g. transatlantic flight) I use a bright yellow/greenish hard sided suitcase from Delsey. You cannot possibly miss that color on the carrousel :D

  16. I have a 21″ Rick Steves rolling suitcase that’s very light (~7 lbs) but durable. The travel store on his web site sells them.

    • backtowork says:

      I liked my Rick Steves suitcase until it sat on the runway in a rainstorm one day. When I arrived at my destination, everything in my suitcase was soaked.
      But I have a Rick Steves daypack that I liked so much that I bought one for every member of my family. They are lightweight and very useful.

  17. afl73 says:

    We buy the cheapest bag possible and replace it every year or two. I haven’t found any that hold up well, so this seems to work best for us. We only travel about 5 or 6 times per year, so this might not work for everyone. We started doing it when we realized that every bag we owned we got from an airline when they had ruined one of ours. (I’ll spare you the details of the fish incident.)

    • Tired Squared says:

      You can’t say something like “the fish incident” and not share details!

      • Famke says:

        Yes, details please!

        • afl73 says:

          Apparently, you can place frozen fish in the cargo area. On my particular flight, the frozen fish didn’t stay so frozen. I was meeting my sister and mom (all three flying in from different locations) for a weekend at the Jersey Shore (think nice, not Snooki.) So, we didn’t go down to pick up my bag for a couple of hours since I got in first. I thought something smelled odd, but we thought it was the airport. By the time we got to the shore and opened the trunk – all you could smell was fish. Thankfully, everything was machine washable (and the smell came out.) The best part was that the airline told me I had to bring the bag back to the airport to get them to replace it. So, it sat in a garbage bag outside the house for a week until my return flight. I warned them before they opened it, but they opened it at the baggage counter. I think people were getting sick all around. They did replace my bag and I found out that there were about 10 of us with the same problem. You would think they would have wanted to avoid that stench and just taken my word for it…

          • So it wasn’t even your fish? Some random stranger’s fish defrosted all over your stuff?
            Ick!

  18. JessC says:

    My dad used to sell luggage way back in the day (think late 90′s early 2000′s, company went down the crapper after the drop in air travel following 9/11). About a year ago I bought my first set of grown-up luggage and, naturally, went to him for advise. His recommended brands were TravelPro, Tumi, and Hartmann (the last two are rather pricey, but TravelPro is a bit more reasonable).

  19. Laker says:

    Sort of a related question: I’m looking for a durable diaper bag, but I’m kind of clueless about what features are important. And do I really need a diaper bag, or could I just get by with another largish bag that I like?

    • I have a Coach diaper bag and a JJCole diaper bag. The Coach one has held up better, although I didn’t like their diaper pad (too bulky). The JJCole is useful for trips to the zoo and other places where I don’t want a “nicer” bag getting messed up or snatched. Don’t be overly wooed by lots of interior pockets. You’ll kick yourself when you are digging through 5 of them to find the paci and baby is screaming. You can accomplish the same thing organization wise with ziploc bags/small cosmetic bags etc. One feature that you may want is a pocket that you don’t mind holding a condensation covered cup/bottle. Also, diaper bags can get dirty, they get spilled on, etc. Be realistic about how much abuse they take and don’t make your favorite tote into your diaper bag if you care if it gets destroyed.

      • I had a Vera Bradley one that was fine, but ended up buying a Pottery Barn Kids backpack (diaper bag backpack) instead. It’s so much easier to have your hands free instead of a big, cumbersome bag weighing you donw on one side. The PB Kids one has an attached, fold out changing mat, which is nice.

    • I have a large Timbuk2 zipper top tote that I use as a diaper bag. I like the interior and exterior pockets, it’s super durable, and has a lifetime guarantee. Plus it’s waterproof and you can throw it in the wash when the pile of squished goldfish crackers at the bottom gets too thick. Mine is black but they also come in lots of colors.

    • The main thing my diaper bag was used for was keeping my babe’s stuff organized to/from the sitter’s. Otherwise, if we were going out together, I found it easier to use a different big bag instead of carrying a diaper bag in addition to what I would have had anyway (messenger bag, baby, breast pump, my lunch…did I really need one more bag?).

      Changing pads are often used as a selling point. You can use a cloth diaper instead, or get these little waterproof pads that are about 14″x14″–the whole baby doesn’t fit, but the important part does, and legs are up in the air during a change anyway. I carried them for maybe the first 7-8 months, eventually figured out that I could unfold the new diaper, position it under DS’s bottom (wearing old diap), open up old one, wipe him down, lift his legs by the feet with one hand, pull the old one out, do one more wipe, and set him down on the new one–no pad needed.

      Sorry if that was TMI. I didn’t have people to tell me that sort of thing, had to figure it out on my own, am just trying to be helpful by passing it on.

    • Seventh Sister says:

      I have a basic Skip Hop bag that I love. It’s my second (I got sick of the print) and I never use my much more expensive (but pretty!) Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag.

      The trouble with using a largish nondiaper bag is that you probably want the maximum number of pockets. A guy friend of mine uses a photographer’s bag, but it seems too bulky for me for most women to carry (he’s a big rangy tall guy).

      Mine is pretty neutral in color (brown and white with a red detail), which makes me feel less like a frump.

      I just bought matching LL Bean Boat and Totes for the whole family, so I might try using one of those as a diaper bag.

  20. The Hideo Wakamatsu Jelly Bean. Always and forever.

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