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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Carry-On Luggage Advice, Part 1
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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Carry-On Luggage Advice, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Carry-On Luggage Advice, Part 1

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Carry-On Luggage Advice, Part 1

Over the years, we’ve spent a good deal of time discussing all aspects of business travel, including gear and gadgets to make travel more bearable and less stressful. Yet we have never addressed the most basic of travel needs, the carry-on suitcase. After a week of scouring the web for tips on carry-on selection, we’ve boiled the advice down to a few key points. There’s a lot of room for personal preference here, so where it doesn’t get too cumbersome (because good advice, like good carry-on luggage, is sleek and quick), we’ll mention some of the leeway.

Find a carry-on that’s light but protective. Good reviews on new luggage include the weight of the suitcase, and don’t ignore the differences. Among highly rated carry-ons, weights can range from six pounds to eleven pounds, and that’s a load of a difference. Remember the veteran’s advice: shave ounces to save pounds. A few ounces here and there add up to a meaningful difference in weight, and you don’t want to struggle getting your carry-on in the overhead bin or out of a cab. This is especially true if you struggle to get the bag over your head and into the compartment, as many of us are not tall enough to negotiate the maneuver easily.

The problem with lightweight material is that it tends not to be as durable or protective, so there’s a tradeoff. However, if you haven’t taken a look at new luggage lately, you’ll be pleased to see that new materials are both light and durable, and if you’re willing to pay a bit more, you should find something that works well and looks great.

Consider appearances. Although form should always follow function when it comes to something as practical as luggage, you don’t want to completely discount the importance of looks, especially if you’re likely to wheel your bag into a meeting right from the plane. Luggage made of softer material, such as leather or a rugged, synthetic cloth, can give the professional or casual appearance you may seek, but leather tends to looks weathered after a few good uses, and nylon may make you feel like you’re in college again, backpacking through the Appalachians, but that may not be the persona you want to project as you’re unpacking your laptop for your slideshow. If appearances simply don’t matter to you, go with whatever makes you feel good. Traveling is stressful enough; if you can get durability and lightness with a look you enjoy, some other inconveniences may not even come into the picture.

The wheel deal. In the wheel arena there are two basic choices: inline (or fixed) wheels and spinners. Inline wheels are attached to one side of the bag and roll forward and back, but do not swivel. You carry some of the weight through the handle as you tip the bag and roll it behind you. The wheels are often made of polyurethane and are about the same size as the wheels on inline skates—in fact, some are designed for easy wheel replacement by the user, and if you don’t like the wheels you get, you can replace them with wheels from inline skates, which are designed to handle all kinds of terrain without damage.

Spinner wheels attached to a swivel and are often split, so that there are two wheels in each of the bag’s four corners (making eight wheels in all). This makes the bag super-maneuverable, easily turned in tight spaces, capable of rolling in any direction, and easy to transport without actually picking the bag up or tilting. Unlike most inline-wheeled bags, you can roll a spinner-wheeled bag down the aisle of an airplane, turned so the narrow side moves forward. You can roll a spinner-wheeled bag alongside you as you walk, and it won’t tip over because it’s being nudged in a direction counter to the direction of the wheels.

Whichever works best for you, look for wheels that can be easily replaced, as wheel disintegration and damage are major issues. Two friends recently complained about the wheels on their luggage disintegrating while in storage in their garages! Other kinds of wheel damage include the attached tread coming off spinner wheels, and swivels damaged when bags are wheeled off curbs. In fact, you’ll want to look carefully through online reviews to make sure the model suitcase you’re considering doesn’t have a recurring problem with damaged wheels. A bad wheel makes your expensive bag and all the thought you put into its purchase practically worthless, as it detracts from the bag’s primary function: to move your stuff from here to there. Most good luggage comes with a warranty, but a warranty doesn’t do you much good while you’re in transit.

With these first three evaluation criteria, you should be able to sift through the endless options for carry-on luggage, and determine what your preferences are for other important variables—which we’ll cover in part two of this series!


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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Carry-On Luggage Advice, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

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