Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tips and Trends: Business Travel #3 - How to Find a Business Suitcase

Business Travel Suitcases

1) Basic - American Tourister, 2) Soft-Sided Spinner - American Tourister, 3) Hard-Sided Spinner - Samsonite
4) Rolling Garment Bag - Samsonite, 5) Garment Bag + Suitcase, Tumi, 6) Luxury - Louis Vuitton

We're on topic #3 for my series on business travel (also check out #1: What to Pack and #2: How to Survive the Airplane), and today it's all about bags -- carry-on rolling bags. Just like most women, I've spent hours pouring over purses, both online and in stores, and absolutely LOVE changing my bags to match or contrast with my outfits. You don't have to devote all of the hours you spend ogling a Celine Trapeze bag to finding the perfect business carry-on suitcase, but since this bag has to get you through both airports and board rooms while looking classy and holding all of your things, you should definitely put at least a little bit of thought into the purchase. 

The six bags above each have different features that you may find useful. Thinking about how often you travel, how much you want to spend on a bag and what features you would like will help you pick out the perfect one for your lifestyle.
1) The Basic
This is an excellent basic business travel bag at a reasonable price. It only comes in black, but if you don't mind the color, or are going to use it infrequently, that may not be an issue. If you do purchase a black bag, I recommend putting a brightly-colored luggage tag on it so that you can spot it quickly. Even though it is a carry-on, it is very possible that passengers may be asked to stow all rolling bags under the plane at the last minute. This bag has three separate zippered sections, allowing you to stow your laptop and papers in the top two sections, and your clothes in the bottom. Multiple sections are extremely important in a business suitcase, because you do not want to risk your colleagues getting a glimpse of your pajamas while you are trying to pull out your laptops. The ability to keep clothing and toiletries separate from work papers is very useful. This bag is quite small, so if you tend to travel for a week at a time, I would recommend getting something a bit larger.

2) Soft-Sided Spinner
Most business travelers absolutely LOVE spinner bags. Personally, I don't like them, because I find that they tend to start rolling away the moment they are on an incline. However, I am definitely in the minority. Spinner bags are useful because they can be pushed, pulled, dragged, rolled or slid along and they will almost always move quickly and easily. The spinner wheels allow the bag to move anywhere in a 360 degree radius, as opposed to a regular rolling bag that can only move forwards or backwards. This spinner is a regular-sized cabin carry-on bag and comes in a variety of colors. The soft-sided bag allows you to do a bit of squishing to get it into the overhead compartment. 

3) Hard-Sided Spinner
This bag is more expensive than the previous two, partially because it is a Samsonite and partially because it is a hard-sided bag. The bag is made of polycarbonate, which provides more protection for your clothing, laptop and other contents. The benefit of a hard-sided bag is that the contents are less likely to get squished. The downside is that there are no outside pockets, and if the overhead bins are almost full, you will most likely have to put the bag under the plane, because you will not be able to squish and squeeze it in. However, many business travelers prefer hard-sided bags because they offer more protection, particularly when traveling with lots of electronics.

4) Rolling Garment Bag
When you do a lot of business travel that requires bringing along suits, you may find it useful to invest in a rolling garment bag, instead of a regular suitcase. A rolling garment bag typically comes equipted with a hanger and fold-out flaps that allow you to properly position your suits so as to keep them from getting wrinkled.

This picture shows the inside of the Samsonite Rolling Garment Bag. The bag comes with a hanger, and the additional pockets are arranged around the outside of the bag so as to not wrinkle the suit. There is also a flap that zips down around the suit to protect it. Since this bag is almost completely a garment bag, however, its primary drawback is the lack of space it offers for any additional contents. A bag like this is best suited to someone who plans to travel with only one pair of shoes, few toiletries and even fewer accessories, and whose primary need is to keep a suit looking clean and pressed for arrival.

5) Garment Bag + Suitcase
If you like the idea of a rolling garment bag, but want some additional room and are willing to pay a higher price, this Tumi bag is the perfect combination. As you can see from the picture below, the Tumi includes a hanger for your suit and flaps to ensure that your suit is packed so that it will not wrinkle. 
However, this suitcase also includes an additional bottom section that can be used to hold shoes, accessories and other toiletries, while the garment bag holding a suit is folded into the top section. In addition to the expansive interior, this suitcase also includes two exterior pockets and handles on the top, sides and bottom. With all these features, and the famous Tumi brand name, it's not surprising that this suitcase is rather expensive. However, if you are a frequent business traveler, you may decide that all the features make this suitcase worth it.

6) Luxury
Ah, Louis Vuitton. The it luggage for celebrities and the rich and famous. There are two markers of success in Hollywood: a Hermes purse and Louis Vuitton luggage. While dear old Louis may be slowing down on sales of its ubiquitous monogrammed purses, the popularity of its luggage shows no sign of abating. This is the carry-on you purchase when you have finally made partner at your law firm, IPO-ed your start-up, or just finished negotiating a multi-billion-dollar merger with Google. It comes with all the trimmings: a padded laptop compartment, a hanger and flap to keep your suit safe, and several exterior and interior pockets. 
It is definitely priced for the Hollywood glitterati, but when only the best will do, this is the suitcase to purchase. I would, however, recommend making sure you purchase a business or first-class seat to go with this glamorous and luxurious bag.
Readers, do you have a favorite travel bag? What do you think of my suggestions?


  1. Great tips! I find getting a suitcase that has a bit of a different colour scheme goes a long way. There are only so many black suitcases you can look at on the carousel before getting annoyed over which one is your own! Mine is Delsey, light grey with bright yellow trim. Love it!

    1. I totally agree - finding your bag in a sea of black is no fun! My go-to business bag is bright red, so it's always easy to spot!


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