Want your travel routine to feel a little less, well, routine? You’re guaranteed to induce envy at the airport from fellow travelers with one of these seriously smart and stylish bags that make the perfect travel companion.
1. The Smart Suitcase
One of the newest trends in luggage is the smart suitcase, with built-in features ranging from digital scales and remote luck/unlock ability, to location trackers that work with your phone. These digital developments are meant to make our travel lives easier, but are they really the ticket to stress-free travel?
Mark Kemerer, senior manager at Kaehler Luggage, isn’t sold on the benefits of all the technology, but there is one that he’s particularly excited about. “What I find really useful is Rimowa’s e-tag technology. Only available on larger bags that you would need to check, it allows you to customize an electronic luggage tag via an app. Since missing luggage tags are the number one reason for lost luggage, you’ve greatly reduced that risk.”
Another perk? United Airlines and American Airlines are awaiting FAA approval for e-tagged luggage to be checked in through a kiosk, something that’s already being tested in Europe. Once that’s approved in the U.S. (which could happen this year), there will be no more waiting in line to check your luggage. Now that’s smart!
2. The Well-Connected Backpack
Between laptops, tablets, headphones, a phone and a camera, the bag you stash under your seat can look like a tangle of wires. Given how small of a space you get on airplanes, finding devices and chords at the bottom of your bag can be a real hassle for you and a bother to other passengers. The Belgian line Hedgren makes a backpack with more padded pockets than you can count and specially designed spaces to pull chords through and tie them up so they don’t get tangled. And, of course, it’s a great multi-tasker once you get to your destination.
3. The Luxurious Leather Carry-On
I was a member of the carry-on club long before the airlines added those pesky checked bag fees. Too many hours spent waiting at the airport for my suitcase to show up, or, even worse, the dreaded lost luggage. Turns out I’m part of a growing trend. “Carry-ons are definitely our best sellers,” Kemerer says. Looking to avoid the checked luggage fee in high style? Kemerer recommends Bric’s carry-on, made of supple Italian leather, which he describes as the perfect marriage of style and modern function.
4. The Rolling Duffle Bag
A budget-friendly option for a young adult heading off to college or maybe a post-college road trip or European tour, this duffle bag on wheels is also a carry-on. The U-shaped top opening provides easy access to the main compartment. Outside zippered pockets keep essentials close at hand. They’ll be ready for any adventure life throws their way. Hopefully they’ll send you a postcard from the road!
5. The Classic
Think the glamorous days of travel have departed? This British brand’s signature steam-trunk suitcase will make you feel like royalty. In fact, a special collection was created in 2016 to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. American royalty, like Angelina Jolie, are also on board with the luxury line. While the look is iconic, the choice of lining makes them unique — choose from a collection that includes retro travel stickers or one based on the wallpaper at London’s famed Goring Hotel.
6. Kid-Friendly Luggage
Even if your flight gets delayed, this emoji-themed carry-on from ATM Luggage‘s new Smiley World line might just be able to put a smile on your face. Another reason to give it a like? It’s made of polycarbonate, a lightweight plastic, so it’s not as heavy. One final thing to smile about: Unlike suitcases with just two wheels, this one has four multi-directional wheels, so it rolls easily, a must-have for a kid’s suitcase.
7. The Spacious Satchel
Flying the new basic economy class or one of those super low-cost carriers that charge for a carry-on, like Spirit or Frontier? Unveiled at this year’s International Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas, British brand Cristina Girl‘s waterproof satchel can carry plenty on board with you and fits right under your seat. It’s also stylish enough to use as your bag during your weekend jaunt. Available in a variety of colors and designs, it fashions a cute logo as well as useful features including tablet and laptop compartments, plenty of pockets and padded adjustable straps.
8. Pretty Patterns
Vera Bradley’s classic cloth duffle has been updated in this wheeled carry-on, made of water-repellent fabric. It’s still got the playful patterns the brand is known for, sure to turn a few heads at the airport, but the wheels and multiple zipped pockets make it easier for travel. Can’t decide on a print? Make plans for a girlfriends getaway to Vera Bradley’s headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the huge five-day outlet sale held every April.
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Andrea Guthmann is an award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist based in Chicago. She writes lifestyle and travel stories for a variety of outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent magazine and Midwest Living. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.