Having become a committed Carry-On Only™ traveler*, I’ve done much research on luggage and bags. You want something sturdy enough to survive being tossed about and (occasionally) stuffed to the gills, but light enough to be easily maneuverable, and small enough to fit in airline overhead bins without a raised eyebrow from over-zealous flight attendants. Some people eschew wheeled luggage, but I think most of them have a back that is Strong Like Ox and/or a Y chromosome. During one of those two-mile airport connection slogs, I want wheels, baby.
After a few years of purchasing lower-priced lines that split their zippers or burst seams after two or three trips, we invested in a couple of 25″ Eagle Creek Tarmac bags. We were delighted with the light weight and high quality of these bags. Over the years I’ve downsized, and this is the bag I now use for most travel: Eagle Creek Tarmac 20.
Though I did like the interior compartments in earlier iterations of the Tarmac line in the larger sizes, I prefer the totally open design of this smaller bag.
When every square centimeter of space counts, a large open space allows greater flexibility. And my laptop fits nicely in the exterior lid pocket, making going through security, if not a snap, a few degrees easier. This bag is very lightweight, and has quiet-but-sturdy wheels that roll smoothly over any surface.
For smaller items that I want to keep together and organized, I use the Eagle Creek packing cubes. Especially if you’re not staying in one place, they help keep one organized and make re-packing a breeze.
And for le monsieur’s shirts and other clothing that needs to be folded rather than rolled, I use the Pack-It folders. They really do help prevent wrinkles.
Eagle Creek luggage has a “No Matter What” Lifetime Warranty. That means that if a zipper breaks, if your bag gets run over by a 747, they repair or replace it at no charge. We actually had the “opportunity” to test this out, after a checked bag had a corner ripped loose at some point during the baggage handling process several years ago. We shipped the bag to Eagle Creek; they repaired it and returned it to us within a few weeks…no charge.
For my “personal item” carry on, I use a large Longchamp Le Pliage bag.
Inside goes my day purse, a shawl and sweater for the plane, Kindle and any other reading material, a small bag of almonds for a snack, my water bottle, travel-sized lotion, and anything else I’d want easy access to during the flight. This one fits easily under the seat in front of me, with plenty of room for my feet.
On the way home, we often have bottles of wine and vinegars, jars of mustards and flacons of parfum that would never pass security. So we plan to check at least one bag on the trip home with those liquid items, and bring a packable duffel which is pressed into use on the return trip. We also use compression bags for dirty clothes, to reduce the space required on the trip home, again creating a bit of room for souvenirs and gifts.
And no, Eagle Creek did not sponsor this post nor have they provided or offered any compensation. I just really do like their products. 🙂
*notable exception: ski trip. There’s no way I can fit my ski wear and equipment in a carry on.
Do you have a favorite brand or type of luggage? Any strategies or tricks for packing light?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.
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