Traveling smart for business can mean bringing less. It can also mean packing with the right sort of luggage. When I show up at large trade shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show or travel on a press junket with other journalists, I see a lot of luggage.
What’s common for business travel are big, bulky suitcases and carryon bags—the type that are frequently aimed at “business travelers” but are actually really impractical. Made of leather and available in matching sizes, these suitcases might look good in the showroom, but typically lack the functionality I most desire. Instead I’ve always opted at travel gear aimed at high-tech users and those for sports enthusiasts. Both types of luggage are actually better suited for those who spend as much time in the air as on the ground.
The travel bags for the high-tech user tends to be over padded to protect all that precious digital gear, while offering plenty of pocket space for cellular phones, Mp3 players and even spots for extra batteries. The downside to these is often that the padding makes the bags extremely bulky limiting the storage space inside. Still when I have to bring multiple computers with me the high-tech bags are the way to go.
Most of the time however I prefer to use fitness style travel gear. These bags are also made to be very rugged, and offer the plethora of pockets and compartments that I really desire. Because adventure-sport travelers tend to need to bring lots of stuff, and often lug this stuff around like college students traveling through Europe, no space is wasted. It might not be the most stylish looking gear but I’ll forgo style if I can carry all my business travel needs on the plane and not need to check a bag!
One company that really gets it right is Eagle Creek, a luggage maker more likely to advertise in Outside Magazine than Fortune. The company was in town for a holiday gift guide event last week—yes, the holiday gift guide season begins in June—and I was impressed to see that they’ve done things that the business travel luggage makers should have been doing all along. Notably I was impressed by a rolling luggage bag that was “carry on legal,” meaning the size was A-OK to bring on the plane as a carry on piece. The bag featured a zippered compartment inside for shoes, and multiple easy to access pockets on the outside for the aforementioned gadgets that I might bring along. Best of all, this bag was durable and somehow still lightweight. In my endless search for the perfect bag few have come this close. In addition, the company even has bags with zip off laptop pouches, meaning that you could use it to sneak a “third” personal item.
The latter bag was important to my wife, who as a fellow business traveler feels that it isn’t fair that she can’t bring both a small laptop travel bag and her purse, along with a carry on bag. Her argument is that if both the purse and laptop bag are going under the seat in front of her than what does it matter? I tend to agree as most gentleman’s-style leather laptop briefcases tend to be the type to rival a Victorian steamer trunk – and are certainly allowed as a “carry on” piece. Kudos to Eagle Creek for its innovative travel solutions.