What Does Your Luggage Say About You?

We’ve seen travelers dragging everything from Louis Vuitton to what looks like a used trash bag through airport security of late, and new research shows that most travelers are closer to the latter than the former.

A new study from Virgin Atlantic shows that one in five of us (20%) can’t remember the last time we bought new luggage, while more than half (55%) would only upgrade their suitcase if it was worn-out or broken. That said, the lifestyles of the rich and famous are quite likely to influence us at the wheelie shop; 25% of 16-24 year olds admit they’d buy a bag based on what their favorite celeb’s been seen toting at check-in.

Women are also more likely to upgrade their luggage than men (11%), while around one-third would consider buying new luggage based on their holiday destination.

There is also a bit of one-upmanship going around – more than one in ten (12%) have bought luggage in the past to make sure it is better than their traveling companion’s.

[Flickr via o5com]

Gadling Gear Review: EXO Hardside Luggage From eBags

With all that electronica the modern traveler hauls from Point A to Point B and back again, it’s natural to be worried about things getting crunched, crushed and smashed. Hard-sided luggage is the solution, especially if you’re checking a bag, and eBags has a new line of branded gear; I tested one out on a recent trip.

There were two less than perfect things I discovered right away about the EXO Hardside Spinner. The first: there’s no brake on the wheels so if you’re on a sloped surface, the bag will wander away if you don’t keep an eye on it. It’s an odd thing to discover, but there we are, saying goodbye on the airport drive and my bag is heading off for the car behind us, perhaps preferring not to board a coach flight to Seattle.

The other issue I wasn’t thrilled with? No outside pockets. There’s a packing strategy for this surely, but if your laptop and your baggie full of 3-ounce liquids is packed inside the bag, you have to open it up at the security checkpoint. I’m a carry-on traveler in most situations and dealing with my TSA scrutinized belongings at the checkpoint was more difficult than when I have a bag with external pockets to stow my stuff.

You do lose a little interior space with a four-wheel spinner (two-wheel rollers have a bit more), but there are some clear advantages. The bag holds its shape and that makes efficient packing a breeze. It’s really maneuverable and getting down the airplane aisle is a snap. It’s perfectly sized for the overhead and I did not worry about my belongings getting crunched by other travelers’ stuff in the game of luggage Tetris that takes place on every flight. Because eBags makes this line in crazy bright colors, it’s easy to spot on the carousel if you decide to check your bag. There’s a built-in TSA approved combination lock too – a nice detail.I also tried out a set of eBags’ packing cubes. They’re designed to fit the luggage perfectly. I’m a recent convert to packing systems, and a surprised one at that, but I like the sense of order a set of packing cubes gives to my otherwise haphazard packing method. I can’t honestly recommend the eBags set over the many others available, but know that if you choose this bag, you can get a packing system designed to work with their bags.

What’s more, eBags backs their brand with a lifetime warranty. On an anecdotal note, folks have told me that the company is very responsive when you give them feedback about their products; they really want you to like the gear and they’re eager to learn what makes great gear from the people that use their stuff.

The eBags EXO line comes in a carry-on size and a larger, 24-inch size. The carry-on retails for $119, and the larger bag for the packing system is $143.99. Check for the sales at eBags – these are back to school prices and subject to change.

Outside magazine’s inaugural ‘Travel Awards’ winners

With twenty-three categories and every continent up for consideration, the competition is fierce, but today Outside magazine released its picks for its new Outside Travel Awards. The winners include everything from travel companies and locales to cameras, suitcases, hotels, and apps, road-tested by those in the know (you know, those people).

Amongst the chosen is Seattle-based Mountain Madness, a mountain adventure guide service and mountaineering school, for its new Tsum Valley trek in Nepal, named “Best Trip in the Himalayas.” Known in sacred Buddhist texts as the “Hidden Valley of Happiness,” the Tsum Valley lies on the edge of the more visited Manaslu Conservation Area, which opened just three years ago to tourism.

Best travel company Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) has “consistently taken travelers to the most remote regions of the world, from Everest’s north side to Patagonia’s glaciers to the far reaches of Papua New Guinea. This year its trailblazing new terrain with a 27-day trek to the north face of K2 ($11,450).” Bonus: “the price of every GeoEx trip includes medical assistance and evacuation coverage from Global Rescue and medical-expense insurance through Travel Guard.” Not too shabby.

Also making the list: Myanmar is the “Best New Frontier;” Canon Powershot G-12 makes the “Best Camera;” the “Best New Adventure Lodge” is the Singular, outside of Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile; and the “Best Eco-Lodge” is the architectural marvel, The Mashpi in Ecuador.

[Photo credit: Flickr user tarotastic]

Steamline Luggage makes junk in the trunk look good

After hours and hours of watching travelers roll by with boring baggage at the airport, I finally spotted a line of suitcases that gives me luggage envy. SteamLine Luggage makes well-tailored, vintage-style cases that are reminiscent of old steamer trunks-except with a modern twist.

These leather-bound bags are at the same time fashionable and funcitonal. Color combos range from pink and crème to teal and tan (and some more modest options, too). As expected, SteamLine designed a range of sizes, including a stylish carry-on bag with discreet trolley wheels that ensures travelers will get to their departing gates with ease.

Purchasing luggage can be quite the commitment. In this case, with a price tag upwards of $280, many would consider it an investment. But not only do these trunks seem like fun pieces to wheel around the airport; they could be displayed at home when you’re not on the road. Any excuse to put off unpacking a little longer!

5 best suitcases for kids and teens for $100 or less

It’s hard to say whether these suitcases are meant for the kids or the parents. Adorable enough to entertain kids and stylish enough to appeal preteens, and teens, these five affordable carry-ons may be just the thing to encourage children to roll their own gear through the airport.

Isabella Fiore
Italian designer Isabella Fiore launched a hard-shell suitcase this fall that proves that suitcases don’t have to come in boring black. The floral pattern is sophisticated enough for preteens, teens, and adults alike. Bonus: The 20-inch polycarbonate wheelie bag weighs a mere 6.5 pounds — and with a stylish bag like this, your precocious child may even start looking forward to packing.
Cost: $100 for a 20-inch suitcase; available in white, pink, and blue floral prints
Where to Buy: Dillard’s stores

Beatrix New York
With whimsical designs such as a robot, an owl, a monkey, a ladybug, and a dinosaur, I only wish that these 16-inch wheelie bags also came in grown-up sizes. Bonus: The handle is perfectly sized for kids, but the height cleverly extends a bit longer for adults who may need to take over wheeling the bag through the airport.
Cost: $94
Where to Buy: www.dantebeatrix.com

Ecozoo Rolling Series by Ecogear
Ecogear’s Rolling Monkey is the latest animal to join the Ecozoo menagerie, which already includes a panda, puppy, pig, and frog. Padded shoulder straps transform the rolling bag into an easy-to-carry backpack.
Cost: $50
Where to Buy: www.ecogear-products.com

I recently spotted a pair of the tiger-shaped Trunki suitcases at San Francisco International Airport. The pint-size wheelie suitcases can be filled with toys, games, and other distractions — and best of all, kids can hitch a free ride by sitting on the hard-case suitcases. And when your flight is delayed, the suitcase is certainly a cleaner place to sit than the airport floor.
Cost: $39.99
Where to Buy: www.melissaanddoug.com

Hello Kitty by FAB NY
The beloved Sanrio character is still going strong after 35 years. And even if your little one eventually outgrows her Hello Kitty obsession or decides that pink isn’t for her, the 16-inch wheelie bag is one of the most affordable suitcases of the bunch.
Cost: $39.99
Where to Buy: www.toysrus.com