Learn to pack like a pilot.
There are so many small things to stress about when traveling, and your luggage choices shouldn’t be one of them. With so many new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations to keep track of—restrictions on the size of carry-on items, rules about what shoes can be worn through security, and bans on what liquids are allowed—the last thing you want to worry about is a suitcase zipper popping or a seam splitting.
For air travel, having a piece that is both lightweight and well made is essential, but finding the right suitcase can be tougher than you’d think. How can you get the structure and sturdiness of a hard shell with the feathery lightness of a duffle?
Real Simple spoke with a pilot, a flight attendant, and a packing pro to get their tried-and-true luggage recommendations. Scroll below to shop their picks.
Away The Carry-On
The AWAY carry-on suitcase is my absolute favorite! While the charger is a nice bonus, I love that the wheels are sturdy, the materials are superb, and the extra features like in-suitcase compression and laundry bags are ones I use every single trip. It's a luxury suitcase in every quality, and I love that it's priced well. —Hitha Palepu, founder of Hitha on the Go
To buy: $225; awaytravel.com.
Samsonite Winfield2 Fashion 28-Inch Luggage
I've had this suitcase for eight months now and I really like it. It was the cheapest out of the options I looked at and I haven't had any problems. It comes in a number of styles and colors, and I haven't seen any major wear or tear—and I use it practically every day. Only downside I would say is I've heard others talk about the wheels being the first part to go. —Taylor Reynolds, corporate flight attendant
To buy: $150; amazon.com.
TUMI International Carry-On
If money isn't an issue, a lot of people in the industry swear by Tumi brand suitcases as they are stylish, dependable, and last incredibly long. Their suitcases are even covered under a five-year warranty. But at almost $600, they are rather pricey. —Taylor Reynolds, corporate flight attendant
To buy: For a similar product: $475; ebags.com.
Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 21-Inch Spinner Suitcase
When I'm traveling in the states, I use TravelPro. The company was founded by an ex-crew member, Bob Plath. Most of the pilots and flight attendants I work with in the states use them. Almost all of their items are covered by a warranty period of 10 years to life. —Peter Simon, commercial airline pilot
To buy: From $90; amazon.com.
Raden A22 Carry-On Luggage
This brand is popular among Real Simple editors. In addition to a phone charger, the Raden has a weight sensor, so you'll know if your luggage is overweight before you arrive at the airport. (Say goodbye to those pesky overage fees!) Another notable feature is its Bluetooth tracker to help you locate your belongings, even if the airline flubbed and misplaced your bag.
To buy: $295; amazon.com.