The Big Schlep

Une femme is not one of those people who considers it a point of honor to travel with only a carry-on. There’s no way I’m leaving my tweezers behind, and the pitiful amount of personal products currently allowed would barely get me through a day.

For the last several years, we’ve traveled with a bulky, oversized wheeled duffel bag that more often than not exceeds airline weight limits when fully packed, and is a real drag (pun intended) to navigate through crowded airports. Plus, trying to discern your oversized black duffel bag from everyone else’s on the baggage carousel can be frustrating. I warned mon mari earlier this year that we will be investing in some better luggage before our Paris trip.

Rather than one big suitcase, I’m thinking that two smaller will be more navigable and will help curb our overpacking impulse (ok, I’m being charitable…my DH’s overpacking impulse). Researching online, 25″ seems to be the recommended size for anything short of multi-week trips. The one brand and model that seems to keep popping up as a favorite in luggage reviews is this Eagle Creek “Tarmac 25” bag.

The company also offers a “No Matter What” repair policy, good news if, like us, you’ve had handles break, zippers broken by TSA inspectors, or any other wear or damage. Best thing, the bag is available in a color other than black! I’m thinking I’ll order one prior to our upcoming August visit to the midwest to see my mom, and if we’re happy, will order a second.

What size and brand of luggage do you prefer? Do you travel light or pack for all contingencies?

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21 Comments

  1. July 1, 2008 / 5:29 pm

    Unfortunately, Miss Janey is incapable of packing light. She prepares to each time she packs but soon enough she’s throwing in “one more thing, just in case” until she needs a bigger bag. She hasn’t yet faced travel with the new bag charges- perhaps that will help.

  2. Anonymous
    July 1, 2008 / 5:42 pm

    This embarassed my DH but worked – we have black wheelie bags that look just like everyone else’s black wheelie bags – Office Max had bright hot pink huge oval luggage tags. Hideous, but our bags were very visible in DC and back home.

    I pack light and have had some “eek” moments on trips when I ended up one clean ___ short.

  3. Toby Wollin
    July 1, 2008 / 5:48 pm

    I travel light – but that is because i leave a lot of room in my suitcase because(sigh)I shop. No matter what I bring, I always end up “needing’ something – a hat, a cooler(or warmer) top, etc. etc. There are certain things that always go (waterproof jacket, sneakers, my meds)but I always seem to forget and my husband would rather come home with all this new truck rather than take over a lot and then be faced with buying another bag…or shipping it all home(even worse).

  4. July 1, 2008 / 6:03 pm

    We travel light, having just managed our three weeks in Europe on carry-on luggage only. Having said that, I’m currently rethinking this, especially since we found out at Lisbon airport on check-in that our carry-ons exceeded the weight allowance and were only allowed on because the agent was a sweetie. I did manage to sneak my tweezers through, but the zip-loc bag restriction for liquids and gels was tough to work ’round, and I had to spend three weeks without my perfume, which I really missed.
    As for the Eagle Creek, we’ve been really happy with their line — years ago, we back-packed on a walking tour of the French Auvergne and Eagle Creek luggage that converted from back-pack to conventional suitcases (really!) was our choice. Since then, I’ve used their daypack as my daily backpack for walking to work, and after 7 or 8 years, it only needs a zipper replacement and will be good to go for another 7 or 8.

  5. July 1, 2008 / 6:13 pm

    I’m with you — what’s this pride in squeezing everything on a carryon? My gym stuff alone would take up an entire carryon and I HAVE to work out when I’m away!

  6. July 1, 2008 / 6:21 pm

    I favor a rather bright green suitcase my father bought me 30 years ago for my first trip to Europe (a trip to Spain with my high school’s Spanish club). It’s extremely easy to find on the luggage carousel. I don’t way overpack; I try to bring as little as possible, but also do bring everything I know I’ll need/want, including a roll of masking tape–so handy for removing pet hair from clothing.

  7. July 1, 2008 / 6:48 pm

    Tumi- recommended by a pilot friend and worth it. I use a 20″ carry on for short trips and a 25″ for longer. But check their T-Tech Pulse 30 inch which comes in burnt orange.
    When going to France I take the 25″ (and DH takes his own) and one of those SportsSac duffles on the plane.

    Apparently European airlines consider carry on size 20 inches and US planes 22 (that’s according to the Tumi store here).

  8. July 1, 2008 / 11:44 pm

    I have Eagle Creek’s Crossroads bag and it has served me well (also my sister always borrows it so she doesn’t have to pack a separate bag for her toddler). I had one with a detachable backpack but I returned it as I found I would much prefer to carry my normal shoulder bag than their little backpack, and I never walked around with the backpack clipped onto it anyways.

    I like carrying on for shorter trips but have found this bag to be great for trips abroad for +1 week, especially in bad weather. Eagle Creek is just an all-around good brand, in my experience. Never had to try the repair policy yet, either.

  9. metscan
    July 1, 2008 / 5:43 pm

    I don´t travel much and only stay away 2 nights in a row most, so I really don´t need to pack much. I aim to take along as little as possible, cause I´ve noticed that changing clothes all the time takes time and I want to see as much as possible in the short time I have. So far, my hb and I have had separate bags,but next time I think we will manage with only one and it is going to be a large Marlboro Classics rough leather travel bag left for my hb to carry. I´ll take along one of my larger totes. That´s it.

  10. cybill
    July 1, 2008 / 7:07 pm

    I’m a light packer on the way over and a heavy packer on the way back, because I like to do a little shopping in between.

  11. July 2, 2008 / 9:04 am

    @ Dejapseu: I use the ever-reliable Tumi which now does come in colours other than black. Unless it is a carry-on, I do not use leather luggage because it is bound to be thrown around and have its life artificially shortened.

    I travel very light using fairly versatile shoes and clothing. Almost any products I use are available in 100ml packs so they all go into transparent Ziplock-style bags.

    On long trips, I do use laundry extensively whether living with relatives or in a hotel.

  12. Anonymous
    July 2, 2008 / 9:23 am

    Hubby and I use Samsonite and risk checking them in through Heathrow. Always a little concerned that they might not appear at the other end though, so we always mix contents so that if the worst were to happen at least we would each have some clothes. Valuables always go carry-on. CVW

  13. July 2, 2008 / 3:44 am

    I prefer packing light. Way back in my hitch-hiking days, it was necessary. I lost the art for a long time but then retaught myself when I started traveling to the Caribbean a few years ago. I have an excellent little (15″x13″x9″) wheeled bag that I’ve used for two-week trips. Last year I bought a size up (18″x15″x8″). I like it because it holds more, but I travel more comfortably with the tiny bag and a big tote that I can hook over the suitcase handle.

    As for that ridiculous ziplock bag … fortunately, companies I love have products that help me work around it. DHC makes its lovely Q10 soap in film form. Weleda makes 3.4oz tubes of toothpaste (which are, for some reason, ok with the TSA), LUSH makes great shampoo bars, solid perfumes and all kinds of wonderful soaps and bath bombs … all kinds of stuff I want to use but which don’t need to go in the ziplock bag.

  14. July 2, 2008 / 8:07 pm

    How funny/apropos – I was just in the Century City mall looking at Eagle Creeks way cool packing items/systems (@ The Container Store – they are having a sale on all travel items) I have heard good things about their envelope things for shirts and items inside baggage as well as the bags themselves.

    Everyone I know who has bought this brand loves their Eagle Creek luggage; next big trip, I plan on investing in two as well and donating our old mismatching bags …gathered over the years. Let someone else deal with my old baggage as it were.

  15. Fred The Mole
    July 2, 2008 / 1:13 pm

    Hi from Paris !
    Personaly, I use a CRUMPLER bag for all my camera stuff where I put an emergency kit with a teeth brush and underwear inside aircraft … in case of Lost and found luggages. I pack all the rest in a NORTH FACE big red bag. I know it’s not very stylish …
    Thanks for comment on Easy Fashion Pseu !

    Fred the Mole

  16. July 2, 2008 / 8:50 pm

    Ooh, good to know about Container Store. I’ll check them out. Thanks!

  17. July 3, 2008 / 3:20 pm

    I have a very difficult time packing light. I always have a minimum of four hats, and only one is crushable. I have gotten used to checking everything except my shoulder bag and one hat box. The hat box counts as my “carry-on”.

  18. indigo16
    July 3, 2008 / 8:46 am

    As I generally have at least 3 Kids in tow, carry on is not an option. The sun tan cream alone needs it’s own bag. We do always wear one swim suit and two outfits on the plane. Precious pieces are carried. All else is thrown to the mercy of Terminal 5.

  19. July 7, 2008 / 4:16 pm

    The regulations have made my dreams of being a one bag kind of guy an impossibility. Curse you, flight regulations!

    As ridiculous as I know it is, I still enjoy hefting around a leather duffle. Wheeling luggage just doesn’t have the same appeal. Of course, if I could find a team of valets it would be steam trunk all the way.

  20. July 7, 2008 / 4:34 pm

    The leather duffle does evoke that certain romantic, beige-linen-travel-suit kind of image. Thomas, you’re young and spry. A few decades, and that weight starts to be murder on the joints. I’m at that point where function trumps form, but had I a team of sherpas, I’m with you on the steamer trunks.

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