back to top
Shopping

9 Pieces Of Luggage That Will Make Traveling So Much Easier

Keep calm and carry-on.

Posted on

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

1. A feather-light, high-tech carry-on that's basically living in 3018 while we're still stuck in 2018.

Jessie Gaynor / BuzzFeed

Until last month, I had never used a suitcase with wheels. I have been living that duffel bag life since the first time scrunchies were a thing. Duffel bags are great in certain circumstances, like if you have to travel over sand (if you've ever watched a rejected Bachelor in Paradise contestant drag her rolling bag over the beach, intercut with B-roll of an iguana or some shit, you know the importance of a good duffel). But when Raden offered me a suitcase to try out, I was willing to set aside my duffle for the sake of the experiment. And recently, when I had a six-hour lag between landing in Paris and checking into my Airbnb, I was thrilled to have a bag with 360-degree wheels that could hold its own for three miles on cobblestone streets.

Aside from being a very smooth ride, though, the Raden is also super lightweight (8.4 pounds), highly durable, and gorgeous. If you obsess over all things minimalist, the Raden's sleek AF look is definitely going to be your jam. I took it on a trip to visit my sister, and she kept jokingly suggesting that I just give it to her (she was not joking). Lucky for me, she didn't know the combination on the bag's built-in lock.

The pièce de résistance of this bag, though, is its impressive tech qualifications. Raden bags have a built-in battery so you can use the bag to charge your phone or device via two USB ports by the handle (the battery is held in place with Velcro, so it's easy to remove if you need to check the bag — since FAA regulations require lithium ion batteries to be kept in carry-on baggage). The battery will give you up to FOUR full phone charges, which could really come in handy in a Cast Away situation, or if you forget a travel adapter. The bag works with an iOS app that allows you to weigh your bag by lifting it up (which is probably more useful for the larger version of the bag, but pretty cool nevertheless), and which will allow you to track your bag using location sensors. As you'll see in the picture above, I named my bag the Li'l Jessie, and I'm not sorry.

The bag is pretty small — I recently made the mistake of bringing it on a seven-day trip, which basically meant I way under-packed. Lesson learned! For anything up to four days, though, it's just about perfect. If you're ready to swap your duffel for a rolling bag, or if you're just in the market for a wildly futuristic suitcase, I can't recommend the Raden highly enough. —Jessie Gaynor

Get it from Bloomingdale's for $295+ (available in eight colors and two sizes).

2. A tear- and water-resistant foldable duffel to protect your precious cargo (without taking up equally precious closet space between trips).

amazon.com

I’m a big fan of short weekend trips, and I need a bag to keep up with me. I recently bought this 60L Gonex foldable bag after my other bag’s zipper broke. I seriously didn’t notice how much my old bag, which was canvas and had a single zipper, sucked until I got this; it had one big compartment with no little pockets to store the smaller stuff.

First off, my new Gonex bag has tons of little pockets for everything from keys to socks and undies to my umbrella. Another thing I really like about it is how compact it is. Its design and zippers allow you to fold it up to about the size of an iPad, which is perfect for storage or for throwing into another suitcase just in case I buy too much stuff on a trip and need to bring it all back. It also has a separate shoe compartment that keeps your dirty shoes from touching your clothes. Before this bag, I’d have to pack a plastic bag to keep my muddy boots in for the ride back — and now it’s really nice NOT to have one more thing to remember when packing. I bought it in the 60L version and it seems big enough for maybe four or five days and I’m one hell of an over-packer. It also comes in bigger sizes, like 80L and 100L, and in a variety of colors.

But my favorite thing, by far, it that it is not only tear-resistant, but also water-resistant! As someone who has what I'll call limited arm strength, this aspect is wonderful. On my most recent trip, my bus was delayed and it was raining. Usually I’d have to hold my bag the entire time in line, for fear of the canvas soaking through and ruining everything inside. But this time, I was able to put it directly on the wet ground without having to worry that my clothes would get damp and gross. Bless! —Sarah Aspler

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in 14 colors and patterns).

3. An under-$50 expandable suitcase that's easy to maneuver makes traveling on public transit a breeze.

Mallory McInnis / BuzzFeed, Mallory McInnis / Via BuzzFeed

I moved to New York from Maine in 2014 and I've made the voyage back up to the land of Stephen King and lobster roughly once a month ever since.

Due to reading and watching The Bone Collector at a relatively young age (and viewing two specific episodes of Sherlock and Luther at a much older age), I hate taking taxis/Lyfts/Ubers. Why? Well, I want to get to my final destination, not my ~final destination~ (DEATH💀), thank you very much. Yes, this is irrational, but it also plays a big role in my suitcase-purchasing habits: I need something that's easy to haul up and down the many staircases of the New York subway system.

Originally I'd had this suitcase from L.L.Bean. I loved it (light! you can stuff a ton of clothing into it!), but eventually — due to the frequency with which I used it — the fabric started to wear away on the bottom, so I decided to switch over to a hard-case spinner suitcase.

One of the first suitcases I found when searching on Amazon was this guy. The price seemed too good to be true, but — as it turns out — it's not! It's just a very cheap, very great suitcase that 1) rolls smoothly on many different surfaces, 2) has a lightweight structure (even when I've packed it as full as it can be, I've never had any trouble lifting it over turnstiles or up into the overhead rack on the train), 3) is available in many different colors, and 4) expands for those times when I end up going shopping during my weekends away. For less than $50, what more could you ask for? —Mallory McInnes

Get it from Amazon for $44.99+ (available in 32 colors).

Advertisement

4. A splurge-worthy suitcase so you can continue to overpack for years to come.

amazon.com, Emma McAnaw / Via BuzzFeed

I got this Tumi carry-on suitcase about three or four years ago and it's held up like a champ. I brought it with me when I studied abroad and it's survived countless airports, bus rides (aka being stuffed under a pile of other suitcases), train rides (ditto), and a thousand cobbled roads. (Pro tip: I also got this lock to make sure everything stays safe while I travel, and it's a must if you ever stay in a hostel.) Now that I'm long out of college (sob), it remains strong.

Not only is this suitcase extremely durable, but it also has pockets, pockets, and more pockets that can fit so many extra things. Seriously, the front pocket alone reaches all the way to the bottom of the suitcase, which lets me squeeze in as much as the TSA will allow. I'm a pretty bad packer — and even I can appear organized when using all the compartments it offers. It's also ~extendable~ and still complies with carry-on size requirements when fully extended, in case you're packing in bulk (which I always do for no apparent reason). I know this sounds trivial but it makes a WORLD of difference when you want to squeeze in even more pants or toiletries.

I should also mention its wheels are amazingly smooth. This may seem like a pretty strange point to bring up, but when I use other suitcases I immediately notice the difference! Dragging this Tumi is probably the least cumbersome bag I've ever used to trek across JFK Airport. So spend the extra money for a bag that'll last you years and years! It'll save you money in the long run and also make you feel extra **fly.** Sorry. —Emma McAnaw

Get it from Amazon for $595.

5. A lightweight carry-on as functional as it is cute.

Emmy Favilla / Via BuzzFeed

When it comes to luggage, I'm a proud new member of the 360-degree-wheels club. I know, I know — I've been living in the stone ages. Up until a year ago, I'd had a perfectly sturdy luggage set sans spinner wheels that I found it unnecessary to trade in, but I came to my senses (aka my old suitcase started to get holey and worn) and am proud to report I have since have joined modern society, thanks to my Calpak 20-inch Torrino Carry-On. And wowie-wow is it great to be able to roll your suitcase any which way your heart desires!!

I spotted the luggage during an impromptu trip to T.J. Maxx, and it was love at first sight. I've since taken it on a dozen or so trips to various climates and of various durations and it hasn't failed me yet. Let's talk about why it's so great: It's a hard case that's durable AF, for starters, but it's also surprisingly lightweight. I haven't seen any evidence of wear yet, and I'm not particularly careful when it comes to transporting my luggage from point A to point B. It also has very necessary crisscross elastic tie-down straps to make sure all your crap stays put, a zippered divider so you have to separate compartments (perfect if you want to toss your shoes in the zippered area), two zippered pockets for accessories, and a convenient built-in combination lock. And it's a pretty cranberry color that kind of shimmers!

Unfortunately, it looks like this model is no longer in production, though it is available in pink on Amazon. What seems to be Calpak's newer version, the Ambeur, however, comes in millennial-friendly rose gold as well as a v chic white with black trim, and appears to be pretty much identical, with the added bonus of elastic pockets (ideal for shoes) just above a big mesh pocket. I don't know what else I could possibly ask for in a carry-on piece of luggage, so thank you, Calpak. —Emmy Favilla

Get the Calpak Torrino from Amazon for $79.95 or the Calpak Ambeur from Nordstrom for $135.

6. Two colorful rolling suitcases with room to spare, because sometimes a carry-on just won't cut it.

Taylor Fuller / Via instagram.com

I’m a huge fan of all luggage by American Tourister. I have several kinds of them (I am a suitcase hoarder), and own different styles and sizes so I can always find one that works best for my travels. My two favorites are the Z-Lite DLX (pictured at left) and the 29-inch iLite Max (pictured at right). In addition to being able to hold so much stuff, they also come in the brightest, prettiest colors ever. Plus, both bags have four spinner wheels, which makes them easier to transport and carry.

The Z-Lite DLX is great because it’s a hard case. I’m all about that when it’s pouring rain and my bag is sitting on the tarmac (which is something that frequently happens since I live in Florida). It keeps my belongings dry and safe in transit. I used it for a seven-week trip through Europe and I never had a problem zipping it shut (and trust me, I brought a lot of clothes with me).

I can literally fit inside of my American Tourister 29-inch iLite Max. It’s so big that I almost always have room inside of it for extras. This suitcase is also super lightweight, which means that I can pack more without having to worry about my bag being overweight and paying extra baggage fees when checking in for my flight. —Taylor Fuller

Get the American Tourister Z-Lite DLX from Amazon for $119.99 or Jet for $99.99 (available in four colors), and the American Tourister iLite Max from Amazon for $84.99+ (available in seven colors) or Jet for $114.99 (available in black).

7. A compact bag whose size belies its capacity (not to mention its device-charging ability).

Adrianna Licitra, West Elm

I love this compact suitcase! It’s the perfect carry-on or weekend bag and surprisingly fits a lot of stuff. I, like many people, tend to overpack, and I hateee being called out for it. “Yes, I do need six pairs of shoes for my weekend trip, shut up!” With this suitcase I can secretly overpack because I'm able to fit so much into such a small bag. It has two compartments that are perfect for separating clothes from shoes or toiletries. The clothing side has compression straps to squeeze your clothes so you can fit more. I used this suitcase for a four-day ski trip and filled it with pretty bulky things like ski pants, knit sweaters, and scarves. I really thought, No way is this all going to fit in this lil baby suitcase, but it all did. It’s like the little suitcase that could!

The hard shell is durable but flexible, so it can withstand a lot of weight on top of it without breaking. The matte finish is easy to wipe clean and doesn’t get scratched or scuffed. It also has a TSA-approved combination lock to keep your stuff safe. But the most amazing feature has to be the USB ports that can charge your devices! I can’t even tell you how many times this has come in handy and brought my dead phone back to life. Having a suitcase that can charge my phone definitely makes me a more confident traveler because I’m always using my phone to navigate tricky situations. I’d literally be lost without it.

It comes in eight fun colors on Awaytravel.com but my gold one is from a special three-color collection Away created for West Elm. I plan on buying more of these in the larger sizes so I can have a complete set. They even nest inside each other so they’ll be easy to store when I’m not using them!" —Adrianna Licitra

Get it from Away for $225 (available in eight colors and four sizes) or West Elm for $225 (available in three colors and three sizes).

Advertisement

8. A chic hard-shell case with Mary Poppins bag qualities to enable your overpacking without need of baggage check.

Elena Garcia / Via BuzzFeed, zappos.com

Overpackers Anonymous should be a thing, and I should be its president. I love to travel and I love to bring the kitchen sink with me. It’s who I am. (Till this day my friends make fun of me for bringing three large suitcases for a two-day trip to Las Vegas.)

At first my overpacking wasn’t a problem (at least not for me), but after having my luggage lost in Istanbul, Paris, Puerto Rico, Dallas, Johannesburg, Dubai, AND Miami, I knew it was time to participate in that carry-on life. So I did a little research and decided to splurge on a suitcase that would let me squeeze in as much as humanly possible but not fall apart when I did. That’s when I found this Rimowa. I’ve had it for a couple years now and it’s awesome! It rolls like a stone, twirls like a Tonya, and fits two weeks' worth of clothes when packed strategically. I never thought I could feel emotionally attached to a suitcase, but this suitcase has made my life so much easier. It also comes with a ridiculous warranty — five years! Seriously, this suitcase is amazing, and yes, it’s pricey, but it’ll probably be the last suitcase I ever buy. —Elena Garcia

Get it from Zappos or Bloomingdale's for $550 (available in black, blue, and bronze).

9. A stylish suitcase with modern convenience and a vintage vibe.

Adrianna Licitra / Via BuzzFeed

I absolutely love traveling and take any opportunity to get out of NYC and experience new places. I wanted an extremely functional suitcase, but unfortunately “functional” often goes hand in hand with “UGLY.” I’m not willing to sacrifice style for function, so after doing a lot of research, I decided on the Delsey Chatelet 28-inch hard-case luggage. This suitcase is the perfect combination of style and function and solves so many of the issues that arise while traveling.

The pretty white color and leather details remind me of a modernized vintage trunk. It has compression straps and two separate zippered compartments with extra pockets so you can pack a lot and still stay organized. The spinner wheels glide like a dream and make it easy to maneuver around crowds of people at the airport. They also have a brake system to ensure that your bag never rolls away from you. Wanna hear a horror story? I once had a suitcase roll off into a dirty NYC puddle when I let it go to hail a cab. The putrid water seeped in and wet my clothes (barfff). I was traumatized, and now the wheel-lock feature is a must-have for me.

It’s also amazing when it comes to security. With its TSA-approved lock and extra-secure zipper, there’s no chance of someone breaking in to steal your valuables. A tracking plate and unique ID number allow you to register the bag online for free to make reconnecting with lost luggage a lot more likely.

I took this suitcase on a 12-day trip to Greece where I lugged it around to four different hotels, on and off of ferries to multiple islands, through the streets of Athens, and on public transportation. This suitcase took it all like a champ. It's sturdy but lightweight, it's beautiful, it cleans off easily, and it generally makes traveling a whole lot easier. Mission accomplished! —Adrianna Licitra

Get it from Amazon for $197.14+ (available in two colors).