Welcome to my 2013 Travel Series! I will be sharing blog posts and coordinating videos for the next four weeks showcasing my current favorite travel necessities, including all I have found I need to be an organized traveler. I’m kicking off the series with an in-depth look at my favorite luggage and packing accessories. We own three different sets of wheeled luggage that we’ve purchased over the past decade. Each set is unique and can accommodate different packing needs. I’m also going to go over some of my favorite organizers and accessories that make packing a breeze.
The most recent addition to our luggage collection is the Eagle Creek Hovercraft Wheeled Luggage. We have two sets of both the Upright 28” and 22” models. I purchased these bags during The Container Store’s annual travel sale in 2012. I had been in the market for a complete structured luggage set and wanted something both lightweight and durable. Eagle Creek offers just that in their wheeled luggage! The Upright 28 is a generously sized measuring a roomy 18” wide x 28” long x 14” deep. It can be expanded to create an additional 2” of depth to the bag, which is a great feature when traveling home with dirty laundry and souvenirs. The bag is a great large-scale yet lightweight option, weighing in at just 9 lb 6 oz. The Upright 22 measures 14” wide x 22” long x 9.5” deep and can expand to 11.5” deep. Both bags are designed similarly on both the outside and inside. The outside features a very roomy exterior zip pocket in addition to a smaller document sized one and an even smaller accessory area in addition to a pullout identification tag. The interior of the Upright 28 includes two mesh pockets (great for breathability when packing dirty laundry or towels) lining the top of the bag. The Upright 22” has one mesh zip around pocket. Both include “interior compression wings” that snap around the bulk of your packed items to hold them securely in place. What I like most about this set is that there aren’t many bells and whistles in terms of built-in organizers, which can add weight and take up packing space. I use my own packing organizers and can fit quite a bit into both sizes. The Hovercraft Collection is no longer available, but Eagle Creek has a similarly sized line out currently called The Travel Gateway Collection. The bags are practically identical in both size and structure, but weigh even less!
FYI – The Container Store’s annual travel sale usually falls during mid-late spring.
I purchased the two Sherpani Wheeled Luggage pieces shown above during The Container Store travel sale several years ago. These are great, stylish pieces that include a couple of built-in organizational features that don’t add too much unnecessary bulk. The Sherpani Hemisphere is a 25” long bag weighing in at 9 lb 8 oz. The smaller Meridien is 22” long and weighs 8 lb 2 oz. As you can see, these bags are heavier than my newer Eagle Creek ones. Luggage companies are designing sleeker and lighter bags as production technology improves and airlines crack down on weight and measurement restrictions. Sadly, these two pieces are no longer available. Sherpani has a couple of comparable carry-on size options at the moment, including The Latitude LE (22” long, 6 lb) and the Voyager LE (20” long, 6 lb). The interiors of these two bags seem similar to my Meridien, although they have altered the design slightly by eliminating the duffle style handles. Sherpani has also drastically reduced the weight of their luggage in recent years. Sadly there is no larger option currently available that is comparable to the ever useful Hemisphere. Hopefully they will come back with a similar, lighter design sometime in the future as they have with the smaller sized bags.
The last set of wheeled luggage we own includes several pieces from L.L. Bean’s Adventure Rolling Duffle collection. We’ve had these bags the longest and have definitely used them the most! They are classic style duffle bags made out of a tough and extremely durable material that has stood up to the test of use and time. The bags store flat, which is helpful for tucking away under a bed or in a closet when not in use. Each bag comes equipped with a sturdy, reinforced bottom, a telescoping handle, and wheels for easy mobility. We have two sets of the large size, which can hold quite a bit at a roomy 13” wide by 30” long x 15” deep and weighing just 8 lb 2 oz! We also have two of the medium size, which at 11” wide x 23” long x 11” deep and just 1 lb 7 oz make for a great carry-on option or weekend road trip getaway bag. Both sizes of the bags come equipped with exterior cinch straps for added security and a shallow exterior zip pocket. The handles Velcro together, making it easier to lift the bags. There are no organizational components inside the bags. Because they are lacking a bit in structure, I find that using my own packing organizers is essential in keeping everything safe and intact during transit. If you pack these bags well, you won’t have an issue with crumpled or smashed items! The only downside of this luggage is that due to the duffle bag design, they cannot stand upright on their own. Otherwise they are great quality, affordable bags that are built to last.
There are a few packing accessories and organizers that are absolutely essential in my travel prep. I use a zip-around folding garment bag I found at Target many years ago to pack our dress clothes on hangers. This lightweight nylon bag keeps our nicer clothes separate from the rest of our packed items. I fold the bag over three times and pack it at the very top of whatever luggage I am using. I find that this method of packing keeps our dress clothes wrinkle-free. Sadly, I cannot find a comparable item available at the moment. I used dry cleaner plastic bags to the same effect before I acquired this garment bag.
Another packing accessory I use are Shoe-Ins, which you can find at The Container Store. These soft cotton pouches have a drawstring closure and are sold in a set of four, including two colors, grey and blue. I use these to keep my heels and flats protected during travel. Both the garment bag and the shoe-ins are great lightweight but functional accessories that help keep our bags organized.
I could not talk about packing without also bringing up my absolute favorite packing organizers, the Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes. I pack the majority of our clothes and accessories in these shallow zipped pouches. I find that not only do they help organize my packed items by packing them in categories, but they keep the contents together and wrinkle free! I even use the cubes in drawers when unpacking at hotels and just tuck the mesh cover underneath for on-the-go drawer organization. I have a plethora of the pack-it cubes in two different colors and I usually designate one for my husband’s items and the other color for mine. I am often asked which pieces I would recommend as a starter kit for someone new to the Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes. I suggest start with one of each of my four favorite sizes: the Pack-It Cube, Half Cube, Tube-Cube, and Half Tube0Cube. This is a nice selection to try out to see which sizes fit your packing needs best. I have seen the Eagle Creek Pack-It System sold at The Container Store, REI, Amazon, and in specialty luggage and sporting good shops. I don’t go on any trip without these!
I like to use REI’s rubber Luggage Tags to identify our luggage. My favorite feature of these tags is their rugged construction, especially the durable screwing device that keeps the tags on the bags no matter how much they get tossed around! I find I don’t lose these tags off my bags, whereas other, less tough options can get lost along the way.
I also rely on a handy Digital Luggage Scale, also found at The Container Store, to ensure our bags fall under the strict weight restrictions that airlines now implement. You can get charged over $100 for being just a pound over the 50 lb domestic limit! These luggage scales are the most accurate I have tried and are easy to use due to their buckle construction. I always remove the battery before packing the scale to avoid accidentally draining the battery during transit. I usually make sure my bags weigh at least one to two pounds less than the airline weight limits to avoid any issues with differing scale readings at the airport. Better safe than sorry!
I share my Favorite Luggage & Packing Accessories in detail in this video shown below if you’re interested in a closer look:
Check back next week for an in-depth look at my current favorite carryon bags! Happy Travels! 🙂
*I am not affiliated with any of the brands or stores mentioned in this blog post or video. All opinions are my own.*