Bring This, Not That: Duffel Bags versus Rolling Suitcases

January 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Are rolling suitcases the better choice for business travel? Or can a case be made for duffel bags? Is one a business-only choice, while the other is only for weekends and trips to the gym? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each bag.

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

Duffel bags can be a handy alternative for the casual traveler who doesn’t want to lug around all the infrastructure associated with a rolling suitcase. They tend to be lighter and are sometimes easier to maneuver than their upright counterparts in the luggage world.

Better yet, some even come with wheels. A big duffel bag on wheels is narrower than a medium or large suitcase and it could even be a little easier to roll around a crowded airport.

Despite the general lack of structure with a duffel bag, you might have more organizational options in terms of little pockets throughout: on the exterior, the top, the bottom, and the sides. Some duffels even offer the benefit of a divider panel to separate the bag into two main compartments.

TravelPro offers a drop bottom duffel. There’s a large upper compartment where you put the vast majority of your stuff and then down below there’s another compartment that’s not quite as large. It’s a great area to store things like shoes or oddly-shaped items. If you don’t want to use that bottom compartment, you can also zip out the interior separator and just have one big packing space.

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

That said, a traditional suitcase usually offers small garment sleeves where you can pack your dress clothes. These sleeves can prevent your clothing from getting wrinkled and protect it from shoes.

Also, rolling suitcases often offer an expansion feature that duffels don’t always have. TravelPro does offer a duffel with expansion, but your average duffels do not. Some of our rolling suitcase models also have expansion features, if you need to pack some additional items.

Bottom line: Duffels can help give a feeling of freedom to your travel experience. A duffel is great for a totally casual trip, especially if you have a lot of shoes or a lot of power cords or odd shaped items. Duffels are great for when traveling with gifts.

If you’re doing a more formal trip, or you want to wheel your bag instead of carry it around, you’ll probably want to stick with traditional luggage, and use the rolling suitcase.

Which do you prefer? Are you a casual duffel-er or do you prefer the tradition of the suitcase? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you.

Bring This, Not That: Travel Items We Can’t Live Without

January 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve talked frequently about the things you should or shouldn’t take the next time you travel, especially on flights. But what are those things you absolutely can’t live without, the items that, if you forgot them, might ruin the entire trip.

We talked to several Travelpro employees about those little must-have items that make traveling more bearable and comfortable for them, and the things they always pack first, just to make sure they didn’t forget them.

For many people, the answer is electronics. One of the essentials (no surprise) is the smartphone. A smartphone keeps you connected (with talk, text, e-mail and social media), amused (games), and even serves important functions like keeping time and getting you around (maps).

Another key item is a laptop computer. Some folks just can’t be separated from their work even for a short little trip. While it’s nice to unplug once in a while, others don’t have that luxury (or personality).

This vintage hair dryer is from the 1970s.

This vintage hair dryer is from the 1970s.

A tablet is another new favorite. For those that can’t bear to travel without books, a tablet is a much lighter version that allows you to select new titles while you’re sitting at the airport. You can carry an entire library in a single device, and watch TV or movies on it later. Some tablets can replace the need for bringing a laptop.

And many people don’t want to move an inch without a more traditional device, the hairdryer.

With all these devices jockeying for space in your luggage, make sure you not only bring their charging cords, but also that you make sure you have the correct adapter if you’re traveling overseas.

Quite a number of the Travelpro women said they don’t move an inch without their makeup case. Looking your best on vacation or business is important, as is personal comfort. Several people mentioned neck pillows. Some folks want to make sure they have something comfortable to sleep in, or they bring their favorite t-shirts with them. You can bring exercise clothing along for the ride. Whether you make it to the gym or not, the idea that you’re making your health a priority for your trip can be of great psychological benefit.

Finally, when you’re packing for your trip, make sure you have a high quality suitcase! A poor quality bag can ruin your trip or even break open and leak all your favorite items. You need something durable, light, and tough enough to handle the rigors of airline travel.

What are your must-have travel items? What do you always take with you, no matter where you’re going? Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: H is for Home (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Some of the Best Luggage Hacks Ever

December 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Everyone loves a list of life hacks, so we were unable to resist a recent article on Australia’s News.com called The 15 Best Luggage Hacks Ever.

There are some great ideas on this list, and we’ve even talked about some of them in the past, but we found a few old favorites as well as a couple new ones.

Everyone should follow rule number one on this list, which is to put some sort of distinctive marker on your luggage so that you can easily pick it out from the crowd when retrieving it from the luggage carousel after your flight. Most suitcases, including ours, are black. We make several others with distinctive colors, but still, the majority of bags you see on a carousel are black. So tie a bright piece of cloth around the handle or put a sticker somewhere easy to see, as a way to distinguish your black bag from everyone else’s black bag.

Maxlite3 Expansion Spinner

Maxlite3 Expansion Spinner

We especially liked tip number 14, Buy a lightweight suitcase. Most airlines charge extra if a packed bag exceeds their weight limit, so you want to start with luggage that doesn’t weigh very much to begin with.

That’s where our line of Maxlite 3 suitcases comes in handy. We designed them to be lightweight and sturdy, so they hold up well to the rigors of travel without adding a lot of weight. We also recommend that you choose your size wisely. If you only need a medium sized bag, don’t lug a large one to the airport; that only adds to your load and the overall price tag.

We did wonder a bit at some of the suggestions in tip number 15 Have a little bag full of these random but useful essentials. The list includes small sheet of bubble wrap, universal bath plug, pencil sharpener, and a calculator. Those don’t strike us as essential items. And since many of the other items listed are very sharp (mini scissors, safety pins, tweezers) make sure you don’t stow this little kit into your carry on as the TSA could possibly confiscate it (or at least the sharp pieces).

Other good tips on the list include suggestions to keep your luggage fresh by sticking a scented dryer sheet in there during down times, using compression bags to save space, and turning light colored clothes inside out so they don’t get marked up if they happen to come in contact with the bottom of your shoes.

What are some valuable luggage hacks you’ve learned over the years? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Packing for Young Children

December 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many new parents are often tempted to pack almost the entire bedroom when planning to travel with their kids. They want to make sure they’re prepared for every contingency, every situation.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Your kids just don’t need as much stuff as you think they do to survive a flight — you only need the key essentials. There’s often a tendency by new parents to overdo it, because they want to have everything and anything they need.

English: A typical baby's diaper bag, over-sho...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dragging an enormous diaper bag around the airport, in addition to everything else you have, is just going to exhaust you, and you’ll end up not using most of it anyway. Pack what they need: enough diapers, formula or snacks, one change of clothes, and a small blanket. Everything else you need can be checked in your regular baggage.

The other big concern when traveling with small children is keeping them entertained. The very little ones don’t need much at all, maybe a toy and a rattle. Your best hope is that they fall asleep on the flight, so try to arrange your schedule to make that happen.

Toddlers generally need more to keep them occupied, so a tablet can come in handy. If you don’t currently have an iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire, we recommend getting one for traveling with children. You’ll get to enjoy it as well, so it’s a win-win situation.

Load your tablet with your children’s favorite movies, and some new ones, some games and puzzles, and a few of their favorite tunes. With this setup, you could keep your toddler occupied for the entire trip.

If your child has a favorite toy or blanket they’re emotionally attached to, you absolutely must bring it along. Otherwise, the pain of separation will be loud and heart wrenching to you, your child, and everyone seated nearby.

Bring This, Not That: Comforts of Home

November 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re traveling for the holidays, you’ll spend time thinking about what to pack before you head out. Sure, you need your toothbrush and clean clothes, but do you need your pillow, favorite blanket, or other items that make you feel comfortable and remind you of home?

Our opinion is “it depends.”

If you’re driving and there’s room in the car, take anything that will fit. Just make sure you don’t leave your precious items behind when you return home.

English: All the comforts of home... This was ...

English: All the comforts of home…  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But if you’re flying, space is at a premium. You’re going to be packed into a plane with hundreds of other travelers and you may be lugging carry-ons around the airport between flights. And these days, most folks prefer to travel light to avoid paying the hefty fees associated with extra baggage. Plus, you may be carting gifts back and forth, which will already eat into any extra luggage space.

One of the great reasons for taking a vacation is to get a break from your routine, and to have new experiences. Can you really get that if you take your whole house with you?

In general, no. But if you’ll be staying somewhere for a longer period, like spending several weeks somewhere warm over the winter, you may want to cart a few extras along. Here are a few options to help you save space and energy trying to wrestle everything to and from home.

  • Consider shipping things so you don’t have to carry them with you. This is especially true of light-but-bulky items like pillows.
  • Pack a giant bag, check it, and pay the overage fees so you don’t have to deal with carry-ons. Sure it’s expensive, but you’re not going to get your favorite quilt into your small rollaboard.
  • Buy a carbon copy of the item once you get to your destination. If this is a yearly routine, maybe your relatives will hold onto that comfy blanket. If it’s your second home, it’s easier to have extras. And if you’re just on a long vacation and don’t plan on returning, donate the item to charity before you head back home.

Do you take your comforts of home with you? How do you manage it all, or manage going without? Leave a comment on the blog or our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Prepared Dishes

November 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Food and the holidays are like salt and pepper. They go together naturally.

If your family expects you to make a blueberry pie every Thanksgiving, you probably want to oblige. But should you bake it at home and take it with you, or make it once you get there? It’s an easy question if you live in the same city, but what if you have to travel a long distance for the holidays?

Cranberry sauce & Gravy

Cranberry sauce & Gravy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re traveling by car, you can make everything ahead of time and put it into a carrying case or cooler. But if you’re flying, you may not want to cart a pie through airport security. Even though TSA’s website says “we’ve seen just about everything,” they also warn that a carry-on pie may be subject to additional screening.

In other words, make the food when you get there.

The TSA has a list of items you can’t carry onto the plane, including cranberry sauce, gravy, and soup. You could carry them on as long as they measured under 3.4 ounces, but that won’t put much food on the table.

You could always check-in the food items in question, but the containers could easily break during the baggage handling process of your flight. Cans or bottles could explode from the pressure, or a glass bottle could break from rough handling from a baggage handler, or when it lands onto the baggage claim carousel from the chute.

If you cook with special ingredients or have food allergies or dietary concerns that force you to eat carefully, weigh the pros and cons of packing or carrying these items. Usually your best bet is to buy the food items when you arrive at your destination.

Of course, it’s always possible you may be heading somewhere without many options, like a small town in the Midwest. In that case, consider ordering from a specialty food store or even Amazon. Or you could just box the items up and ship them yourself. Either way, your favorite foods and ingredients will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Have you ever shipped, carried, or checked food items for the holidays? How did you do it? Would you do it again or have you found a new method? Leave a comment or let us hear from you on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Three Unnecessary Travel Items

September 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes, knowing what to bring on a trip can get confusing, especially if you love your gadgets and want to bring them on the road. A video article by Matt Granite from USA Today had some good advice on what not to bring on your next flight.

Travel Adapters

Granite: Travel adapters are unnecessary. Most hotels accommodate you and your electrical needs. They take up a lot of space as well.

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Travelpro: We disagree. Yes, you shouldn’t buy the adapter kit with 20 pieces, because you’ll most likely only need one style. However, imagine getting to your hotel and not being able to charge your phone. Do some research to find out what kind of adapter you will need, and just bring that, not all the adapters for every country.

It’s important to weigh the costs for this too. If you frequently travel around the world, the 20 piece kit is probably the best route for you. But if you’re taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, go for the single adapter only.

GPS

Granite: Why bring an extra device when you can just use a mobile GPS app? Your GPS is the most likely item to get stolen.

Travelpro: Agreed. Another device is unnecessary. However there are some factors to think about when opting for the app. It drains your battery, can go into roaming, which will hike up your data usage, and is a lot smaller than a GPS. Better yet, consider a map as your primary wayfinder, and use your phone GPS for fine tuning or when you get lost.

Bluetooth Shower Speakers

Granite: Pointless, poor audio quality, and overpriced. Skip the shower speakers, and get a regular speaker instead.

Travelpro: We sort of agree on the speakers. Why not just endure your 10 minute shower without music at all? You want to save as much space and weight as possible, and a bluetooth speaker of any kind is just going to take up both.

But if you simply must sing in the shower, we recommend Nude Audio’s Super M as an all-in-one speaker. It’s bluetooth, water- and sand-proof, offers a 360-degree sound experience, is compact and durable, and costs $99.

Tech gear is one of those optional things. Other than some kind of power adapter, you don’t need a GPS (travelers have survived forever without them), and you certainly don’t need a speaker for your mobile device. Go as light as possible, leave the unnecessary gear at home, and experience what your destination has to offer, including the music.

Travelpro Product Testing Featured on NBC’s “The List”

September 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

NBC’s The List, a show that airs in Phoenix, Tampa, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tulsa, Baltimore, and West Palm Beach, recently visited our luggage testing facility here in Boca Raton, Florida to see how we put our luggage to the (rigorous and rough) test before it ever reaches the store.

Learn to Pack Like the Marines

August 28, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The Marines are known for their dedication, skill, and bravery. What you might not know is how well they can pack. A Marine is only given one sea bag, a military duffel bag, to fit all his or her belongings. Packing efficiently is a must.

They have developed a packing technique called the skivvy roll or grunt roll. It combines a t-shirt, shorts or underwear, and a pair of socks into a single small roll that’s easy to count and manage. If you have a complete roll, you have a complete under-outfit.

  • Place t-shirt flat and unfolded. Stretch and smooth it to remove wrinkles.
  • Fold underwear in half length-wise, and place on top of shirt below shirt collar.
  • Fold the sides of shirt length-wise over the underwear.
  • Lay socks flat over shirt sleeves in a crisscross pattern. Leave the leg of the sock hanging outside of the shirt. Ankle socks will not work. It will look sort of like a letter ‘T.’
  • Roll items from collar down. Leave sock legs outside of roll.
  • Fold one loose sock leg over rolled items.
  • Repeat with other loose sock leg. You will have a completed skivvy roll.

There are many sites with step-by-step instructions and pictures demonstrating each step (we like the one on Huckberry.com). This technique may have Marine origins but that does not mean we civilians can’t use it for our everyday travel needs.

Skivvy roll - Huckberry

Used with permission from Huckberry.com

The skivvy roll is great for going on camping trips or traveling when space is very limited. You don’t want to lug three bags through the airport because of inefficient packing. It also ensures you have plenty of socks and underwear for each day you will be gone, since one roll equals one shirt, one pair of underwear, and one pair of socks. One day, one roll. Five days, five rolls.

What are some packing techniques you use? Leave a comment and let us know.

How to Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Final Destination

July 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Of all the potential headaches involved with air travel these days — random flight cancellations, endless tarmac delays, crowded flights, a rude (or super extra friendly!) seatmate, among many others — the biggest one of all may not happen until you reach your destination: lost or damaged luggage.

Even if you’ve been delayed by hours and hours, all that stress can melt away with a hot shower and change of clothes back at the hotel. But if you suddenly find yourself without all the comforts of home you have packed, that stress only intensifies — not to mention the stress of losing valuable belongings.

Baggage Claim Carousel Photo i005 by Grant Wickes

Baggage Claim Carousel Photo i005 by Grant Wickes (Photo credit: Grant Wickes)

ABC’s 20/20 recently published a story — “8 Tips To Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Destination” — and we’re always happy to see major news outlets working to make travel safer, simpler and less stressful for everyday travelers.

20/20’s advice is fairly good, but there are often other factors to consider.

Tips That Make Sense

Packing in a sturdy bag is a great tip. So is purchasing traveler’s insurance: In addition to that $3,400 cap on airlines’ liability, even the sturdiest luggage is limited by its manufacturer’s warranty, which almost never covers loss or damage caused by carriers. (One exception: the Travelpro Platinum luggage series that covers airline baggage handler damage.)

The best tip we read, of course: Carry your luggage on whenever possible. If you’re on a commuter jet, it’s likely your carry-on luggage will need to be gate checked, but it’s in your hands for as long as it can be, including all the way up to the gate.

20/20 Tips To Skip

But the recommendation to bypass the curbside baggage check line? Yes, the outdoor bag check adds complexity and a chance for loss or damage, but sometimes you have no choice! If the check-in desk line is incredibly long and you’re risking missing your flight, for instance, the convenience can pay off in getting your luggage on the flight, period.

What’s your top tip? What do you think, experienced travelers? What tips can you offer to others for ensuring their luggage makes it to their destinations safely and in one piece?

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