Travel Light: Luggage And Tips

let’s talk luggage…

carry-on travel

on our way to the airport…can’t believe this was a month ago!

I’d promised to review the Briggs & Riley carry-on spinner luggage, and compare to the Lipault spinner I used last year, as well as recap some of our methods for packing and transporting souvenirs home.

First, let’s talk about the Briggs & Riley “Widebody” International Carry-On Spinner.

Briggs & Riley spinner carry on

mine is black, but if you want to be able to find easily on the luggage carousel, get the red.

  • Overall I was quite pleased with this bag. It fit easily in overhead bins, though might not meet size restrictions on discount European airlines. As always I recommend checking with the individual airline as size restrictions vary by airline and type of aircraft.
  • I really like the design with the telescoping handle positioned on the outside, which allows for a flat packing surface inside the bag, and facilitates the use of packing cubes. (More on these later.) It has slightly greater interior capacity than the Lipault bag, though does not expand.
  • The exterior pocket was much easier to access and use than the one on the Lipault.
  • The bag was stable and mostly easy to maneuver. With a heavily loaded “personal item” on top I needed to take care when going over carpet or rough surfaces, or when needing to stop or change direction quickly, but the more structured design of the bag also helped with overall balance and stability.
  • There was initially room to spare once I’d packed my travel wardrobe, and was able to accommodate a few purchases made early in the trip.
  • I did not find it significantly heavier than the Lipault when similarly packed.
  • I checked it on the return trip, as we’d packed some gift items (perfume, wines, mustards) that could not be carried on. It held up just fine.

The Lipault 22″ spinner bag:

  • I still think this is a fine choice for those who want to travel carry-on only, who prefer a spinner bag and for whom bag weight is a primary consideration.
  • No problem fitting into overhead bins.
  • The soft construction makes this the “clown car” of smaller bags; you can keep finding space by stuffing into nooks and crannies and also facilitates fitting the bag into tight bin spaces.
  • The downside of the softness is that contents will shift and the bag may not be as stable when being wheeled, especially with another bag sitting on top. This can be mitigated somewhat by packing heavier items toward the bottom of the bag and utilizing compression straps.
  • The exterior pocket can be difficult to get into, especially when the bag is packed full.
  • Prettier color options. 🙂
  • Also held up just fine when checked on the return trip home.

Secret Weapons:

  • If you carry on a suitcase that goes in the overhead bin, your Personal Item will need to fit under the seat in front of you, and should be roomy enough to stash anything you’ll need for the flight (sweater, scarf, headphones, reading material), as well as your regular handbag. I use the Lipault 19″ Weekend Tote which does all of the above, is very light, has a flap that slides over the handle of my rolling bag, plus a shoulder strap. I love the outside pockets which include a padded laptop sleeve, so everything that needs to be pulled out for going through airport security (laptop, liquids bag) goes right there and is easy to access while wrangling bins and removing shoes. Like the spinner bag, you can just keep stuffing this thing and it still fits under the seat.
  • A packable duffel bag. We don’t deploy this until our final trip home, but this is the trick to finding space for the souvenirs and gifts we’ve picked up along the way. We pack the folding duffel with dirty laundry and other soft clothing, which frees up room in our hard-sided suitcases for more fragile items. The duffel gets checked along with our suitcases for the trip home. On one occasion when we brought a wooden mobile back for jeune homme, we used the duffel as a carry-on for this and a few other non-liquid, non-breakable items.
  • Packing cubes (the soft-sided ones) may take up a bit of room in luggage, but are so helpful for staying organized when moving between multiple destinations that I wouldn’t think of packing without them. I’ve found the small to medium sized ones work best for my clothes, and for le Monsieur’s button-front shirts I use one of the packing envelopes which really does help keep shirts (and dress pants) neat and wrinkle-free. Here’s another great idea: if you’re traveling with multiple family members, getting each person a set of cubes in a different color helps keep everyone’s clothes sorted out.
  • If you bring home a bottle or two or wine, or olive oils or vinegars, these wine skins provide a little extra security and prevent leakage onto clothing.

Do you have preferred luggage or gear for travel?

You can see my 15 Piece Travel Wardrobe from our recent trip here, and other travel wardrobe suggestions here.

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  1. Jacqueline
    June 24, 2015 / 5:22 am

    I love Longchamps le pliage weekender which I pack (it takes up very little room as it is folded to an enveloppe size. I use it on the way back for all my souvenirs etc. It fits in the overhead. If I don’t need it (yeah right), I can just keep it folded in my suitcase.
    Also I found the packing envelopes and cubes took up too much room in my suitcase so I use extra jumbo plastic bats. I take all the air out of the bad and use them like the packing cubes. I can put several tops in each bag and the bonus is when I take out the bag I can see what each one holds. I use one bag for one type of top (camisole or short sleeve) and the other for long sleeve etc.
    I would love to be able to travel with just a carry on suitcase but I can’t do it.

  2. Marguerite
    June 24, 2015 / 6:01 am

    Femme, have you considered getting Global Entry and TSA Trusted Traveler Pre Check? It makes international travel much faster. Well worth the money. I’ve been carrying the same Tumi T3 22″ carry on for 12 years. It’s semi soft side. Just starting to show wear in the telescoping handle. Thanks for your great trip reportage, my travel soul sister

  3. E E Faris
    June 24, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Thanks for the great advice. I’ve often wondered if it would be easier to pack in a truly flat suitcase interior. Especially for suits.
    My suggestion is to include some shoe bags or pouches (Containers and More has several brands I get them in different colors and and can keep track of shoes and keep travel dust off clothes.
    My son travels both nationally and internationally for work, all the time. He swears by Tom Bihn bags. They have a packing cube system also.

  4. Sherry
    June 24, 2015 / 6:45 am

    I also use that Tumi T3 22′ carry on…..for almost 10 years. It is showing some wear, but have not found anything better to replace it with……yet. Always looking. I believe Tumi discontinued that line. I use the Victorinox shopper tote, with sleeve that fits perfectly over the Tumi and also packs items forever, including my handbag. Also got the TSA Pre Check and plan on the Global Entry. There is something great about not taking off your shoes!…I so love your blog. Especially when I see the clothing I have just bought from EF show up in your collection..positive reinforcement!

  5. Debra
    June 24, 2015 / 7:03 am

    I second Marguerite’s suggestion to enroll in the Global Entry program; it is well worth the money ($100 for five years) as holders are able to speed through re-entry into the country and also gain access to the much shorter TSA Pre security lines at check-in.

    I’m also with Marguerite on the topic of luggage; I just spent a week in Paris and then another week in the American Northwest with my Tumi Vapor Continental carry-on and the matching Cortina boarding tote, and both worked perfectly. Easy to maneuver, had plenty of room for all the clothes I needed, and best of all, no waiting to check and then retrieve luggage!

    By the way, I owe you a BIG thank you for helping me discover the packing cubes and the packing folder. My husband also LOVES the packing folder and uses it now on all of his business trips. We’ll have to invest in another one soon as we’ll both be heading to Europe next summer! That packing folder is a miracle worker; get one, folks!

    • Amelie
      June 25, 2015 / 6:28 am

      Much appreciate your tip on the Tumi Cortina boarding tote. I’m very happy with my Wakamatsu carryon but have been looking for a replacement for my Lipault 19″ weekender tote. It’s a cumbersome shape, a bit larger than I need and the main zipper only wants to open one way. I like that the Cortina looks compact, has a ton of organizational pockets and slots ( my main beef with the Longchamp totes) and it just looks like it would ride neatly on top of my carryon.

  6. Susan
    June 24, 2015 / 8:22 am

    We have two sizes of Tumi suitcases–one qualifies for carry on domestically and the other for international flights. They are excellent bags. I packed for an 8 day trip to Oxford, England in one of them. It was a wintertime trip and the bag held everything I needed. I don’t usually worry about being carry on only, but on that particular trip, I had a shoulder injury and did not need to be dealing with a large heavy bag.

    I use the packing cubes too–especially for underwear, socks, nightgowns, etc

  7. June 24, 2015 / 8:27 am

    Great review…your observations are going to be very helpful for international travellers.
    I used a carry on for my Paris trip and found your posts on packing invaluable.
    Thank you!

  8. Cynthia
    June 24, 2015 / 9:07 am

    Love this blog! I do appreciate the luggage comparisons, especiallyas I am off to Europe in a couple of weeks. I can never pack just a carry-on, although I am trying not to be a notrious over packer. I do love the Longchamps bags for extra goodies. And I am a firm believer in ziploc bags. And I echo everyone sentiments about Global Entry. It is so nice at the end of a trip to not face the customs lines. And I love being TSA pre on domestic flights!

  9. June 24, 2015 / 9:11 am

    Great post as I’m in the market for a 4 wheeler .. lol. Dragging around my luggage on two wheels is just too hard on my hands 😛


  10. Denise
    June 24, 2015 / 10:22 am

    How do the handles of your duffle work with checked baggage? It seems like there could be problems with them

    • une femme
      June 24, 2015 / 10:26 am

      Denise, this has never been a problem for us. I suppose one could tie them together or bungee them flat against the bag if concerned, but we’ve never done so.

  11. happinessatmidlife
    June 24, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    I don’t travel much but I don’t like to carry anything on the plane besides my purse. I always check my bags and I’ve had my suit case from Costco for a couple of years and I love it. The spinning wheels have made a world of difference.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion linkup.

  12. Mumbai
    June 26, 2015 / 9:53 am

    this sunglasses looks cool on you, Trish and the colour of the scarf too.

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