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.

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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?

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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.

    • 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.

        • I’ll second Briggs & Riley.

          • SF Bay Associate :

            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 :

          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.

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

    • MissJackson :

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

    • backtowork :

      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 :

      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.

    • 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 :

      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 :

      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.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        Yes, women’s backpacks make a huge difference for me. So much more comfortable.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

  4. 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

    • 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 :

      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 :

    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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • big dipper :

      This!

    • 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 :

      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.

    • 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. 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.

    • 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…

      • Forgot to mention that they have a fantastic lifetime repair/replace warranty as well.

    • 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!

      • 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 :

        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!

      • 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 :

      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. :

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

  12. SpaceMountain :

    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. 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 :

    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.

    • +1 on Briggs & Riley. We have B&R and Tumi, and the B&R is holding up much better.

  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 :

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

    • 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 :

      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. 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 :

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

      • Yes, details please!

        • 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. 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. 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 :

      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.

  21. My friend and I went on a trip together and she had the most awesome plastic-lined toiletry bags. I raved about them so much, she bought them for me for Christmas.

    I think the current version is this: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/pick-stitch-cosmetic-bags/?pkey=ctotes-cosmetic-bags

    The large ones hold a lot and I pack them in my checked luggage.

    • I used to love toiletry bags like this. Then I switched to zip-lock bags. For-sure waterproof, transparent so you can see what’s inside, easy to rinse out or throw out if something leaks.

      • Chicken Counselor :

        Ditto this. Heavy duty Zip lock bags make the best toiletry bags.

  22. I am now on a 12-day business trip and using one big carry on.
    It’s a Samsonite xSpace I think in 21 inches (maybe).
    It has four wheels so very easy to manipulate and glides easily at the airports.
    It is light (though not as much as a hardshell one).
    I have it i purple which is a recognizable color and I added to it a colorful luggage tag from Baekgaard.
    It has many pockets and a sackpack in case I want to buy things during my trip.
    It came with a useful TSA lock which I lost since..
    Overall, I really love it. It’s been to scary places and still made it well.
    I am lugging it for 10 more days across Algeria and Tunisia and I am confident it won’t fall apart.
    Highly recommend

  23. along these same lines, I am looking for a laptop case for a soon-to-be-mine macbook air 13 inch. I have done some searching of my own but haven’t been able to come up with much. I’ve found this one but I am weary of buying it (anyone else have it?):

    http://www.amazon.com/Hammerhead-inch-Macbook-Leather-Envelope/dp/B0050Z3P16/ref=pd_cp_pc_1?tag=theshoblo-20

    I also plan to do some searches on etsy.

    Anyone have a laptop cover that they love?

    • To prevent scratching, I bought a Speck shell for my Air. As for envelopes, I love the ones Baggu makes. That’s next on my list.

    • I have an In Case one for my 5 yr old MBP that is great. Never gets dirty, looks brand new, zipper is fine, and it’s nice and cushiony without being too bulky. They are the ones you see at the apple store in a variety of colors.

  24. I’ve been using Samsonite for years – I have the Spinner that people above mentioned – and my husband has a more basic suitcase. But what I love about Samsonite is the warranty. My husband’s suitcase is around 7 years old, and just recently suffered some damage (the handle mechanism was bent and he had a really hard time opening/closing the handle). He just took it to the Samsonite store, they’re going to fix it, and it may cost him $25 (at most). Samsonite said that they have a 10-year warranty on most damage. Enough to make me a loyal customer!

  25. I love the Eagle Creek packing cubes and folders. I saw someone mention they go on sale at the Container store for a summer travel sale. Anyone know when that will be? I’m traveling 5/6 and need to buy some for H.

  26. I love the tri-fold garment bag by TUMI. As a young female associate, I found myself traveling a lot with men who would run up and down stairs and dash around airports. Not only did I switch to dress flats for most trips, but I found a garment bag so much easier to handle than a roller suitcase. It holds significantly more than you would expect and suited me just fine when the male partner would show up with nothing but a litigation bag for a 2 day trip — presumably he had his spare shirts shoved in there with papers?! I still use it nearly every week 5 years later.

    • I feel you on the male colleagues running across the airport.
      When I had just started at my company, my manager left (abandoned rookie Houda) on maternity leave. Our General Manager (her boss) was kind enough to take me under his wings during her 5-months leave.
      Those months were where I learnt to pack & travel like a pro: never check a bag, always dress up, always ready to run and meeting ready from touchdown.

      • Absolutely. I had a trial by fire period with three young male partners that forced me to develop all sorts of tricks of the trade.

        These may be obvious to others, but here are a few tips that have helped me:
        1. Pack for one color scheme (either brown or black).
        2. Never check a bag unless it’s a very long trip (e.g., going to trial) and only if you’ve confirmed that others have checked.
        3. Always travel with foldable flats (I like Footsie Rolls) and a pair of Zakkerz (magnets that let you adjust a hem to wear flats) — you never know when you’ll suddenly be running to catch a flight or walking 10 blocks because “there’s no need for a cab.” This means save room in your suitcase or bag for the heels you may have been wearing when they decided to walk to dinner.
        4. Keep a set of travel toiletries packed at all times.
        5. Use skinny hangers and hang an entire outfit on one — makes so much more fit in the garment bag.
        6. Be prepared for last-minute changes to travel plans. Not much you can do for this other than have numbers handy, but it was a huge adjustment mentally for me when we started cancelling and rebooking flights on the way to the airport!
        7. Throw in a cardigan if I’m only packing suits. Makes an easy transition to dinner if everyone goes back to the hotel to “change.”

        • I may add a couple things:
          1- ladies should pay extra attention to how their purse/bag is organized.
          Always be ready to get a passport, pen, ticket, in less than 5 seconds.
          Nothing more hurtful to your credibility than fumbling for 3 minutes in your bag and holding the lines.
          2- I bring a couple statement costume necklaces. It can help for that day-to-night transition and can make a repeat outfit look different.

          • Alanna of Trebond :

            Fun story from this summer (well, I was mortified, but fun now?)–I get to the subway station with the Partner and the male junior associates on the team and I can.not. find my subway card–which I use EVERY day to get to work. After I search for it everywhere and feel awful, the Partner gives me his to swipe in and we head off to Delaware. When I get back–I find that I’ve carefully organized my subway card, ID, etc. inside my ID holder–and left it very neatly on my desk.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Does the tri-fold have wheels or do you carry it? My husband has a tri-fold that holds a ton but it doesn’t have wheels and I can’t figure out a non-awkward way to carry it.

      • I prefer the one that you carry. It has a shoulder strap that I don’t find too awkward. I’m on the taller side (5’9″), though, so that may make a difference. It’s also great in that it fits in much smaller spaces in the overhead bins. I’ve never had to gate-check it, even when they’ve made everyone with a roller bag grab a pink tag.

    • Light packer :

      This. I find shoulder bags so much easier to handle and run with!
      I have a garment bag from high school marching band of all places, (logo-less, plain black, and embroidered in the corner with my initials) that has lasted the last 8 years remarkably well. There’s a name tag slot by the side zipper that I put a business card in. I feel better knowing people aren’t opening up my bag to look for a name if I misplace it. It’s my go-to-bag for any trip that’s 4 days or under.
      For business, I wear a suit with flats on the plane. Heels and electronic cords go in the bottom shoe compartment, rolled clothes (+ another suit on hanger) and laptop/case with papers go in the top with a small double sealed toiletry bag.
      Toiletries in a ziplock for airport security and then in ANOTHER zipped bag after you pass through the metal detectors is so important.

    • Let’s hope he had some boxers in with the legal briefs too!

  27. I’ve had a Hartmann rolling bag since about 1998 and a Briggs and Riley bag since abotu 1996. I travel a lot, and usually take the Hartmann (because it is slightly larger, and also the distinctive tweed is easier to find if I have to check the bag.)

    Briggs and Riley fixed my bag twice, for free. The wheels broke when I had to gate-check it. I think they just throw those bags all the way from the jetway to the ground. I try never to gate-check anymore – I now know how to get into the first boarding group on most of the airlines I use.

    I think luggage is one of those areas where you really get what you pay for. I bought my kids new Samsonite duffel bags for spring vacation last year, and last week on this year’s spring vacation, the zipper to my son’s duffel broke. And my kids rarely travel. So I can’t recommend Samsonite at all, unfortunately.

    • Oh – also, I think you should get luggage at a real luggage store. That way, if you need repairs, you just take your luggage back to the store and they handle it, rather than you trying to mail something as big as a suitcase (which, for me, would be enough to cause me to throw the bag away.)

    • Second on Hartmann and that you get what you pay for in luggage. I was previously of the “buy the cheapest thing you can and use it until it falls apart” school. DH convinced me to buy a Hartmann rollaboard and (attachable) carry-on bag a few years after we started dating (we started long-distance for two years). I’ve gone completely to the other end of the spectrum. I love love love these bags. Now saving up for a garment bag.

      On a side note, Hartmann doesn’t go on sale that often, but if you know you are going to be buying more than one piece at a time, you may be able to convince the sales associate at a department store to give you a non-advertised price break. (We did this at Macy’s — which here in SF also has a relationship with a local store/authorized dealer who will handle repairs to avoid shipping, as mamabear said.)

  28. Great post. I’m in the market for a new bag. My Samsonite (two wheel) bit the dust and their customer service (or lack thereof) has me refusing to purchase another. I’m looking at the Victorinox Avolve, 4-wheeled, 20″ (http://www.rei.com/product/813087/victorinox-avolve-4-wheeled-luggage-20). Anyone use this? Any thoughts?

  29. Midwest Lawyer :

    I’m a huge fan of Tumi – expensive but well worth the investment. They fix them without question if the least little thing breaks and I’ve had mine for over 15 years and it’s still going strong.

  30. Tumi lover :

    You should invest and get a Tumi rolling bag. They are expensive but well worth it. My husband traveled 4 days a week for years as a consultant with one, and it is still in remarkably good shape.

    Personally, I prefer the T-Tech lined (T-Tech Presidio being my favorite.) It is less expensive than the main line tumi stuff, and quite a bit lighter. This is important for me, as it allows me to fit more in bag and also still lift it into the overhead by myself. The people at the tumi store will tell you this line is less durable and try to upsell you. Don’t listen. I’ve had mine for years and traveled the world with it.

    If you know someone who went to HBS, they have a some program where you get a 30% discount. You just get some code from the student association and then order directly from Tumi. Also, sometimes they have good sales around father’s day.

    • Me too! I love my Tumi T-Tech, and it is a lighter blue color so I can spot it right away. I think I paid for the set with AMEX points, so all you AMEX point hoarders out there watch the offers on the website – I think sometimes they will even do a point sale special on the Tumis.

  31. All good and I do them all. But I cannot check all my liquids. Putting them in < 3 oz. containers doesn't work. So if I'm going to check, I might as well check and travel light in the cabin.

  32. I have the Victorinox Werks in 2 sizes and I love it. I was recently going to get a different brand b/c after dozens of trips both handles had come off of the one that we use most, but I emailed customer service on a whim, and even though I never filled out any warranty card and didn’t have the receipt or anything like that (purchased in 2005) they FedExed me brand new handles at no cost, which were super-easy to switch out. I’m a fan for life now.

  33. I fly every week for my job and I used to have a Victorinox bag. I had it in red so it was easy to find if I had to check it. It was light weight and I thought held up really well. Never had problems with zippers or the wheels. However, I absolutely hated the single handle. If you travel with a laptop bag and are wanting to put it on top of your luggage it does not stay put compared to a bag that has a normal double column handle. Victorinox does provide straps to strap on a second bag, but that just isn’t realistic for me.
    Now I have the Travelpro Crew 8 20″ and have really been happy with it. I wish it had a suitor for things I’d like to leave on a hanger and also that it came in different colors than green or black. As others have mentioned having a colored suitcase, no matter how obnoxious, can be a blessing if you have to check it and everyone’s luggage looks the same. Other than that, I’ve been completely happy!

  34. I had Atlantic luggage for about 10+ years that I used for without incident or problem. I’ve recently made the switch to TravelPro and love it so far. My sister is a flight attendant and all of the “industry” folk use and swear by TravelPro. I figured if it can stand up to her constant travel (5-6 flights a day, several days a week) that it’s good enough for my recreational use.

  35. What’s the best rolling smaller-sized carry on to pack suits in? I usually have quick 1-2 day trips, and need suits, workout clothes, and toiletries. It’s hard to find a rolling suitcase that is a small carry-on that has a fold-out section that will allow you to keep suits on hangers (which I like to do, if nothing else to keep them in a separate section from my gym shoes). Specific brands and models would be helpful if you have one you love.

    • a passion for fashion :

      I bought my husband the Tumi one and he loves, loves it.

    • The Costco Kirkland brand rolling carryon that I have has a fold-out section. It’s been mentioned on this thread a couple times but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available online.

  36. For a rolling bag that can hold a laptop and files, this is probably the best purchase I have made in the last 6 years.
    Briggs & Riley #BR213-4 H08 C02.
    It was expensive, but worth the money. If Briggs and Riley makes something similar now, I highly recommend it. I’m in the market for a new carryon now, after an airline apparently played bumper-luggage-carts with mine, and I might pick up and B&R.

  37. Anonymous :

    3+ times/week traveler here, random thoughts:
    Just because is says “carry on size” on the tag doesn’t make it carry on size. Some airlines enforce the 19″ maximum height. If they do make you check it it’s not smart to scream about all the valuables in your bag as the flight attendant makes you gate-check it. Duh.
    I see many, many of those hard-side spinners completely crushed or being dragged though the airport on their edges because they’re poorly designed. Many don’t roll well on 2 wheels. They also have very few handles to grab on to when loading them into the bins.
    I like an outside pocket to put my business card in in case my bag gets lost.

  38. I strongly recommend checking out the Travel Products forum on the FlyerTalk website. Here is the url:

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-products-639/

    You will not find more passionate or informed luggage buyers than people who travel 200+ days a year. Many who post on the forum travel more than that.

  39. I’ve had my Victorinox suitcase (very similar to the one picture, but in black; might be the same model) for almost four years and it’s still practically new-looking. It’s held up amazingly well to being dragged over curbs, checked for flights, etc. (I even watched in horror from a plane window once as it fell off the unattended luggage conveyor belt to the tarmac, but it didn’t suffer any noticeable damage.)

    Rue La La is having a sale on Hartmann bags today.

    • I just checked Rue La La, and I just don’t get their flash sale prices. Why would you pay $300 for a carryon that doesn’t have spinner wheels or an advertised warranty?

  40. Eloise Spaghetti :

    Once on a trip to Chicago, my friend had a victorinox swiss army luggage roll on. He was really beating it up – just dragging it down the stairs and back up them (we were lost looking for our hotel). That was probably 15 years ago and I recently bumped into him and the luggage piece was what I wanted an update about. How is that one luggage that you said had a lifetime warranty? He said he still regularly uses it. He also has a wife and maybe two or three kids but, I wasn’t listening to that part because all I could think is that is the luggage I want when I grow up.

    I have a Tumi roller for work and the quality is very good too.

  41. So much temptation! Now to save up for proper luggage now that I’m out of school….

    Related question: Any recommendations for clear zippered toiletry cases? I had a cheap one I loved that has finally started to fall apart, and I’m hoping to replace it before the next time I fly. Much quicker getting through security than having to fumble around removing ziploc bags from inside another other case.

    • Anonymous :

      Honestly, Ziplock freezer bags with the slider.

    • I saw one at The Body Shop for under ten dollars a few weeks ago. It’s not very big though, would only hold travel sized items.

      • Agree the ziploc slider bags can work nicely, but they tend to get ratty after a trip or two (at least for me). The little clear plastic zipper bag I had worked beautifully for over two years of regular use.

        Thanks for the BS tip, Menolly (btw, great name) — sounds like that one might do the trick . :)

  42. I gave up on soft-sides when the zipper broke on the umpteenth one. Now I use hard-sides with latches. If I don’t feel confident of the latch, I put a luggage belt on it. Thread the belt through the handle so it can’t slip off sideways.

    Hard-sides also save rummaging through all those fiddly little pockets looking for whatever.

  43. Dear Santa – I would like a Rimowa carry-on and 26″ suitcase for Christmas next year. Aluminum. Spinners. Many thanks.

  44. I carry an expandable black soft-sided case (it folds to a pouch) with my laptop and toiletries and a Lilly Pullitzer white/cream fabric garment bag. I wear one work outfit. My purse fits in the garment bag when I walk on the plane (to consolidate to the two bag limit). With these items, and wearing a coat and work flats, I can travel for up to 7 days. Any longer and I use hotel dry cleaning. No more travel problems – I’ve even been re-routed on a completely different airline for an entire trip, and I don’t lose luggage. Travel is nearly stress free…..

  45. My Hartmann suiter. 15 years old and FINALLY time to replace it. Not because it has broken, just because it’s too dirty to condone:).

  46. I’m surprised no one else has mentioned them, but we love our LL Bean rolling flight bags. I’ve had mine for more than 15 years. My husband was using it so much for business trips that I bought him a full set 7 years ago. We almost never check luggage, but have never had any problems with it when we have. The design has changed a bit over the years, but this is what we have, and will probably get one for our daughter soon: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/63261?feat=63260-ppodxs&dds=y.

  47. Funny, everyone is talking about luggage, must be Spring :-).

    Wheels take a huge amount of space, especially so in proportion to a carry-on (roughly 20%). So I have wheels on the large ‘moving’ suitcase, but I have a zipable-backpack for a carry-on. The extra straps are neatly tucked into a zipped pocket if I ever have to check the bag, so they don’t rip on the conveyors. But the point is that in my experience, miles of airport corridors always come with carts. On the other hand, miles of metro stairs don’t, not to mention skinny sidewalks covered in dogshit or small cobblestone streets with mopeds, and I’m too old to schlep a wheeled suitcase through all that. It’s not a true backpacking climb-the-Eiger quality rig, but it means I can carry even heavy contents comfortably, I could pack it with books and still cross a Paris arrondissement or two. For Europe, it’s way superior to wheels.

    Oh, mine’s still available http://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/mother-lode-tls-weekender-convertible/143101?productid=1370035 fabric quality is less than Eagle Creek, that’s true, but the function is so much better.. Great flexible open design, but plenty of convenient pockets etc. I’m not a frenetic business traveler, mine’s still pristine after 5 years of vacations, but if I had to do it over I’d get this one again.

  48. I have used TravelPro rollaboards for years and LOVE them for business/city travel. The only reason I got a second one is that the first one was looking tired, but I handed it off to my husband, and he still uses it. They hold up great under a lot of abuse.

    However, the TravelPros seemed heavy for an upcoming trip to Europe where we will carry our bags around a lot, so my whole family bought Rick Steves bags. 3 of us got the rollaboards (much lighter than TravelPro, and 1″ shorter, so more likely to fit in overhead). My teenage son opted for the backpack (same size as rollaboard, 21″) and it’s so lightweight that I’m wondering whether I made the wrong choice. We’ll see …

    Definitely recommend packing cubes — was shocked to see what a difference they make. Mine are from Rick Steves, but Eagle Creek, Magellan’s, etc. are similar.

  49. I highly recommend Tom Bihn bags!
    http://www.tombihn.com/

  50. I know this is an old thread, but I stumbled across it and just wanted to add my 2 cents that EAGLE CREEK is some of the best luggage and totally worth the cost. Last year I traveled for a conference and brought most of my belongings in my older Eagle Creek Switchback 28 (check-in size/detachable backpack). At the airport, it was RUN OVER BY A SHUTTLE BUS and wedged beneath the buses rear axle. A tow truck was needed to retrieve the bag.

    It was pretty scuffed up and there were cracks along the base by the wheels, but the handle still functioned, the wheels still worked, and most importantly, the zippers held and my contents didn’t explode out of the bag on impact. So I would call that a super durable bag if it can survive being run over by a shuttle bus!

    The best thing about it was that I sent the bag back to Eagle Creek for repairs, which is free because of their fantastic warranty, and they sent me a brand new bag!! For FREE!!

    So now I will only purchase Eagle Creek luggage. Proven durability and great warranty – I’ll never have to purchase another piece of luggage again.

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  52. Rebecca d. :

    I got a nice Travelpro set and its lasted through more than 50 flight segments with minimal signs of wear. I’ve taken it to the jungle, the arctic, and everywhere in between – no complaints!

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