Beauty & Fashion

Luggage and Travel Gear Reviews

I tried out some new luggage and travel gear on my recent trip to Europe and the UK. Today I’m sharing a review of new luggage I tried, and how it worked out.

Choosing luggage for travel

Every type of travel may have different requirements for luggage. And every traveler may have their own set of preferences and priorities. So there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to which luggage is best.

Some things to consider when choosing luggage

  • Will you be flying, driving, or taking a bus or train? If flying, will you check a bag or carry on?
  • What types of ground transportation will you be taking at your destination? Cars/taxis, trains, buses? Public transport may often require getting luggage up and down stairs, squeezing into tight spaces on luggage racks. And not all stations have escalators or elevators to and from platforms.
  • Do you have activities planned requiring special equipment (hiking, skiing, etc.) that takes up more luggage space?
  • Are you comfortable packing light, or do you prefer to have a larger wardrobe and more options?
  • If you’re traveling solo, how much (if any) help with your bags will you have?
  • Do you prefer a hard-sided or soft-sided bag? One with a single compartment or a “clamshell” style?

Sometimes trial-and-error is the only way to suss out what type(s) of luggage will work best for your needs.

The luggage I chose, and reviews

Though I used to travel carry-on only, I began checking bags a few years ago. My reasons were practical: at 5’1″, I often found it difficult to reach the overhead bin without straining. And I’m currently dealing with a wonky shoulder (tendonitis), and have been advised to avoid lifting much weight over my head.

I’ve mostly been using a medium-sized checked bag for the last few years. Mine’s an older version of this Briggs & Riley spinner. It’s usually only packed half-full on my way out, so I have room for shopping finds and gifts on the return trip. It’s an excellent suitcase: relatively lightweight, yet sturdy, rolls easily, and packs easily.

But for this trip, because I knew I would be taking several trains, I opted for a carry-on size bag (to be checked) and a “weekender” size duffel (that easily met carry-on requirements).

My spinner suitcase (carry-on size)

I’d been reading a lot of good things about this Paravel Aviator Plus, so after comparing with some other models, decided to try it. It’s not as light as some hard-sided luggage out there, but also not as expensive. In the “plus” column:

  • It’s roomy and easy to pack (compatible with my packing cubes). One side has a compartment that zips closed, the other has a flat compression panel.
  • The bag wheels easily even when full, and on carpeted surfaces.
  • The telescoping handle feels sturdier than many other bags I looked at.
  • There are two handles, one on the top, one on the side. The lay flat when not in use.
  • I think it’s a good looking bag, and easy to spot on the carousel.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was glad to have chosen a smaller bag when some unexpected train changes required going up and down a few flights of stairs at one of the stations.

In the “minus” column

  • Not as light as some bags of the same size.
  • There were times I wished I could remove the compression panel when looking for items in my suitcase. (It flips open, but is not removable.)
  • It got a bit scuffed/marked from baggage handling, but not more than I’d expected. (I knew that was a risk when I chose a lighter color.)

All in all, if you’re looking for sturdy, good looking suitcase that’s not terribly expensive (and is made from recycled materials) this one’s definitely worth checking out.

My duffel bag

I wanted something that would ride easily on top of the wheeled suitcase, but be light enough to shlep through the airport and get into the overhead bin. Because I wanted a little “breathing room” for purchases in addition to my usual carry-on items, I decided to try this lightweight “carryall” bag:

This is a really lightweight bag, with some good interior organization (mesh pockets and separate pouches). The plusses:

  • Lightweight, and large capacity.
  • There’s a sleeve for a laptop, not padded.
  • Zippers seem sturdy and open/close smoothly.
  • It doesn’t seem to show dirt easily.

The only downside was that it was awkward to wear with the crossbody strap. So I mostly carried it on one shoulder, and really missed being able to be hands-free going through the airport once I’d checked the wheeled bag. But I think it’s a great bag for weekend or road trips, and will hang onto it for that purpose.

And I’ll be looking for a backpack with a trolley sleeve for my next trip.

Small items

I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Emme bag, now that they’re no longer available, and decided to try this one.

The design is similar to the Emme bag, but this one’s lighter and more compact. It holds just as much, if not more. It has fewer small pockets, which I don’t really miss. I’m quite pleased with it. Several colors available, and there are other sizes too.

I do still pack my liquids in a separate quart-sized baggie.

On my last trip, I discovered that my older European electrical adapters no longer seem to fit, so I ordered this UK/EU universal adapter.

It’s sturdy and seems to be well-made, and is easy to use. And with the additional USB and USC ports, I could charge multiple devices at once. Much better than carrying multiple adapters, or some of the flimsy “universal” ones I’ve tried in the past!

(Note: not for use with appliances with heating elements, like hair dryers or curlers.)

For my next trip (in early fall), I’ll probably go back to my medium-sized wheeled bag, as I won’t be taking multiple trains. And I’m looking for travel backpack recommendations: not too large, but with a laptop sleeve and trolley sleeve. Let me know what you’ve tried and like!

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