1. Embrace Your Pain
What do you hate about packing?
What do you hate about boarding and deplaning?
What do you hate about unpacking?
What do you hate about re-packing to come home?
If you could magically transport your stuff to your hotel/guest room/tent, what would that setup look like?
Where do you put your clothes?
Where do you put your toiletries?
What else is there with you, and where do you arrange it for use at your destination?
3. Get Real
How long do you typically go away?
How often do you go away?
Where do you go?
This is the fun part. Now that you know what to avoid, take a peek at this chart giving suggestions for Innovative Luggage Solutions - a.k.a. super happy Google search terms.
Just in case you don’t find a luggage scavenger hunt to be amazingly fun, here are a few of my favorites:
I recently found this bag for a client who prefers to pack in her clothes divided into complete outfits that she can hang wholesale, straight into the closet. Like me, she hangs everything except undergarments at home, and packing her clothes on hangers allows her to pull outfits directly into the suitcase without the added steps of removing, folding, dividing, re-hanging, and steaming her items between home and destination.
I love love love this piece and am sorely tempted to grab one for myself if I can ever justify passing on my current carryon. It has pretty much all the bells and whistles that luggage sites typically tout, but here are some of the less celebrated features that I feel the average person will enjoy:
-Hanger bracket that allows you to use any hanger
-A very practical inner layout of dividers that also guides you into rolling your hanging items for minimal wrinkle opportunities
-Outer pocket that is large enough for most tablets and laptops, complete with a gusset that unzips if necessary.
-Built-in wet pouch in the front pocket that is perfect for your TSA toiletry items.
-Mesh pockets that are actually large enough to fit any shoe, no matter the monster platform status
-Matching garment sleeve that can be used for organization/division as well as the obvious protection of delicates
-Detachable pockets that are a) placed in a very nice, space-saving configuration and b) allow you to easily bring your accessories/makeup/charging cords wherever you need them to get ready.
PS: major shout-out to LuggageBase.com for being the only retailer to fully explain all the features of this product.
I own the 16”, two-wheeled version of this carryon and, although I originally only bought it out of fear regarding International carryon restrictions, this baby has since rendered my 22” Traveller’s Choice almost obsolete. The inside doesn’t come with any fancy dividers or bells and whistles, but here’s what makes it awesome and practical:
-Complete usage of ALL the main compartment. The frame is totally minimal, which means that it does not eat up valuable packing space. My 16” fits MORE than my standard-design 22”.
-Easily the lightest bag I own across the board, aside from my Tumi backpack and my teensy crossbody/clutch purses. All of your weight limit can be used on your stuff, not your luggage.
-Deceptively durable. Mine is still going strong after about 2 years now, and that includes quarterly air travel in addition to near-weekly day trips. I am not gentle with this thing.
-The 16” fits underneath airplane seats with room to spare - the 20” version would definitely fit as well. Much more sleek and comfortable to sit with than the bulging tote bag I used to bring as my Personal Item.
Kohl’s seems to have the smallest version at the moment, although there are lots more sizes and colors at Ebags.com. Anything 20” and up also allows for easy bundle packing using standard sized hangers.
Seriously, if you’re a fan of minimal dedicated compartments when packing, I don’t see many compelling reasons to go with any other luggage than IT’s World’s Lightest range. You can fit everything you’d fit into other standard 26” checked bags right into your carryon - no lost luggage, no waiting at baggage claim, no machines brutalizing your bag. And even if you need to check a bag to transport items not allowed in the cabin - and even if your bag IS brutalized - at this price point, saving on weight charges, it’s fine to simply replace it sooner rather than later.
This is the line that luggage salespeople seem to love, and I can surely see why, because these are the classic muscle cars of luggage. Top materials and construction, gorgeous design, bells and whistles everywhere - the only nit I can pick is that the compression straps sport a lot of Velcro (which will eventually wear out), but I can forgive that because the Velcro does provide a perfectly adjusted fit every time.
The downside is that they are rather expensive and Rimowa does not allow retailers to put their items on sale. Try Ebay for preowned versions, because this is one brand that can handle a second life.
Features I love:
-Retractable luggage strap on outside to either hold a purse or connect multiple trolleys.
-Tons of pockets in the outer compartment of the Hybrid version.
-Items strap in with flat dividers, so the straps don’t crease and wrinkle items
-Multiple compression dividers, so you can divide and organize your stuff into sections.
-Interior is very customizable as far as how deep one section is versus another.
-Dividers feature zip pockets, which means you can organize by outfit, accessories and all.
These bad boys are heavy, and they may get you hassled by TSA agents who think you are packing heat - because Pelican cases are favorites for transporting cameras and firearms. They are waterproof and basically indestructible. But the reason I have them on this list is because they are amazingly modular and customizable.
Pelican cases can be ordered with or without foam padding, adjustable padded dividers, and a bevy of interchangeable lid organizers. If you are the kind of person who needs a place for everything with everything in its place, then this brand will put you over the moon.
Another attractive idea would be to purchase another suitcase with an undivided main compartment, then stack a personally-curated set of Pelican organizers on top of one another.