One of my close friends will soon be starting a new job that includes a significant portion of time on the road, and she wants my help picking out a new rollaboard. I have had the same Ogio suitcase for over seven years, and it has made hundreds of trips with me, gone around the world, and in general been awesome. Unfortunately, it’s also not available anymore. So I’m having to start from scratch.
First, there are several things to consider when purchasing a new rollaboard:
- Quality construction. This one may seem obvious, but make sure the bag is well made. Tug at the handle and zip and unzip the pockets. Read reviews to see how well it has held up for users. Good Housekeeping also has an extensive collection of suitcase reviews.
- Travel area. If you are going to be primarily in the U.S., you have a lot more consistency with carryon bags than in Europe. The major US airlines allow rollaboards to be 14in x 9in x 22in, with a maximum weight of 40 pounds. In Europe, the size allowances seem to be similar, but the weight allowances vary widely—from 11 to 51 pounds.
- Weight and size. The lighter your luggage is without sacrificing the features you need, the better. Also, make sure the bag fits the carryon dimensions allowed for most airlines—14in x 9in x 22in in the US.
- Interior. Once you know the bag is of an allowable size, look to see how much room is inside the main compartment. The more, the better! Also, check to see if the interior pockets match your needs. If you are a person that likes lots of pockets or internal dividers, look for a suitcase that has them. If you prefer fewer, that’s okay too. I like two inside pockets (one for my undergarments, one for my toiletries) and two outside pockets (one for chargers, one for other miscellaneous items).
- Easy to move. Walk around the store with the bag for a while to see how comfortable it is. Depending on how tall you are, the handle may hit you in an awkward place. Also, check out the wheels. My current bag does not have spinner wheels, and I don’t want to buy a new bag just because of the wheels. However, on the few occasions I’ve used suitcases with spinner wheels, they have been so, so easy to maneuver.
- Looks. While not nearly as important as function, looks are still a part of a carry-on. For first time business travelers, I recommend a solid, fairly conservative color. Dark colors will show less dirt, and my favorites are navy, plum, brown, and of course, black. Add a colorful, unique luggage tag so your bag is easy to identify.
Once you’ve got your criteria figured out, it’s time to look at specific brands. There are a ton of companies, but here are what I consider the best luggage brands:
Ogio. As I said, I have had the same Ogio suitcase for over seven years and I love it.
Briggs & Riley. Briggs & Riley bags are true workhorses, ready for regular and hard use. One of the best things about them is their fabric, which reviews say is very water repellant. A good thing to have if you travel a lot during winter or rainy seasons!
Travelpro. I see flight attendants using Travelpro bags more than anything else. I think that right there says it all.
Victorinox. Made my Swiss Army, Victorinox bags are meant to last. They make some incredibly lightweight bags, which can be handy if you are traveling in Europe.
Readers, what are your suggestions for buying your first business travel carry-on?
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