The Art of Packing: A Guide to the World’s 5 Finest Luxury Carry-On Luggage
With summer travel season upon us, many discerning travelers are searching for the ultimate carry-on bags to accompany them on their journeys. Luxury luggage brands have responded with innovative new collections that combinedurability, style and functionality. Here is an in-depth guide to the top five luxury carry-on suitcases for 2023.
The Louis Vuitton Horizon Soft 55 ($2,790)
The newly launched Horizon Soft 55 from Louis Vuitton melds the French house’s heritage of expert leather craftsmanship with a sporty yet sophisticated aesthetic.
Crafted from the brand’s classic Monogram canvas with cowhide leather details, the Horizon 55 features a completely flat interior thanks to its soft semi-rigid construction. This allows for easy packing and maximum storage capacity despite its deceivingly thin silhouette. The internal straps keep clothing secured, while the variety of exterior pockets provide organization for small essentials. Dual rounded handles and a removable shoulder strap offer carrying versatility.
- Opt for a custom monogram ($640) or vibrant limited edition colorway to add a pop of personality.
- Add a protective luggage tag ($435) and lock ($515) to safeguard your luxurious investment.
- Innovative flat interior construction enables easy packing and max capacity
- Removable straps allow for hand carry or over the shoulder versatility
- Monogram canvas and leather craftsmanship for heritage luxury style
The Rimowa Essential Light Cabin ($720)
German luggage icon Rimowa adds a new essential to its lineup with the Essential Light Cabin carry-on. Followers of the brand will recognize Rimowa’s signature grooved aluminum shell that provides durability while maintaining a light weight.
The minimalist, streamlined design features a TSA-approved external USB-C port for charging devices on the go, along with a built-in universal power bank. Smooth rolling multi-wheel spinners, an adjustable telescopic handle and padded top carry handle offer effortless mobility. The intelligently designed interior includes a built-in divider pad and straps to secure clothing, as well as a separate compartment for shoes or toiletries.
- Choose a metallic finish like Titanium ($850) or Copper ($950) for a luxe twist.
- Monogram the aluminum shell for a personalized touch ($150+).
- Utilize the external USB port and power bank to stay charged anywhere.
- Signature ultra lightweight grooved aluminum shell
- External USB-C charging port and universal power bank
- Telescopic handle and smooth spinner wheels for easy mobility
The Tumi Alpha Bravo London International Expandable Carry-On ($995)
Joining forces with luxury automaker McLaren, Tumi’s Alpha Bravo London International carry-on brings high performance materials to functional, fashionable luggage. The hardside exterior is constructed from Tumi’s patented FXT ballistic nylon, making it ultra durable while staying lightweight.
Inside, intelligent organizational features like a hanging pocket, wet/dry storage compartment and tie-down straps keep belongings secure and accessible. Dual interior shelves with divider panels help to pack clothes wrinkle-free. The luggage’s unique expanding design allows flexibility for any packing needs or souvenirs collected along the journey.
- Choose the sleek, exclusive Graphite colorway for a refined look.
- Use the add-a-bag sleeve ($65) to stack atop a larger suitcase.
- Take advantage of the expansion zip for extra packing capacity.
- FXT® ballistic nylon shell for lightweight durability
- Interior hanging pockets, dividers and tie-down straps
- Expandable design adds extra packing capacity as needed
The FlexBags Sydney Powered Luggage ($899)
Dubbed “the Tesla of luggage,” FlexBags brings innovation to the forefront with the Sydney Powered model. Constructed in Germany from ultra durable polycarbonate, the hard-shell case is designed for optimal volume and packing efficiency.
What makes the Sydney truly unique is its integrated lithium battery and Bluetooth tracking technology. The 7000 mAh battery can charge phones and tablets inside or on top of the suitcase up to 15 times over. Integrated Bluetooth allows travelers to track the Sydney anywhere in the world via smartphone. Add in TSA-approved password protection and quiet spinner wheels, and the Sydney Powered carries convenience and peace of mind wherever it goes.
- Use the Bluetooth app to track your luggage’s location in airports.
- Charge devices inside the case during transit.
- Set a custom digital password lock for security.
- Polycarbonate hard shell with tracking and charging technology
- 7000 mAh integrated battery charges devices 15+ times
- Bluetooth tracking locates luggage anywhere in the world
The Away The Bigger Carry-On ($245)
For those seeking maximum capacity without checking luggage, The Bigger Carry-On from trendy travel brand Away provides an ideal solution. Despite its oversized silhouette, the surprisingly lightweight polycarbonate case meets nearly all major US airline carry-on size requirements.
Thoughtful details optimize the oversized interior capacity, including a built-in compression pad and laundry bag for organization. A removable, water-resistant nylon laundry bag helps separate out dirty clothes. The 360° spinner wheels ensure smooth mobility in transit. Choose from 10 stylish color options from neutral tones to bold hues to suit your style.
- Opt for the Aluminum edition ($395) for a lightweight, metallic look
- Use the removable laundry bag to separate out dirty clothes
- Compress contents with the interior compression pad
- Oversized yet airline-friendly design
- Internal compression pad and laundry bag
- Nylon laundry bag keeps dirty clothes separated
Choosing the Ideal Carry-On Luggage for Your Needs
With carry-on luggage, one size does not fit all travelers. Certain features and designs will suit some better than others. Here are the key factors to consider when selecting your ideal luxury carry-on.
Hardside vs. Softside
The primary decision to make is between a suitcase with a hard shell or softside construction. Rigid materials like polycarbonate and aluminum create a durable, resilient and lightweight hardside case. This works well for protecting fragile items and maintaining a sleek, structured silhouette. Softside bags made of canvas, nylon or leather tend to offer more flexibility. These conform to the contents and can expand when needed. Frequent travelers may prefer a softside case for the packing versatility.
Spinner vs. Two-Wheeled
Spinner wheels that rotate a full 360° allow maximum maneuverability in tight spaces and fast-paced airports. However, some find inline two-wheeled cases allow for more control when navigating curbs or stairs. Spinners add a few more omnidirectional wheels and require periodic maintenance. Frequent flyers who sprint through terminals will appreciate a good spinner. Those who stick to trains or boats may prefer two wheels.
From Bluetooth tracking to USB charging ports, today’s carry-ons integrate innovative tech features for added convenience and security. If you want luggage capable of charging devices, look for a power bank like the $899 FlexBags Sydney Powered. Integrated GPS tracking gives peace of mind and helps locate lost bags. Other useful details include TSA-approved locks, interior organization systems and expansion zippers. Identify must-have tech features based on your typical travel needs.
Many luxury brands offer customization services for a personalized touch. Monogramming adds initials or a name, while painted designs, patches and straps allow for creative embellishment. If you want a carry-on that stands out, opt for a custom color, unique handle wrap or an engraved metallic finish. For frequent business travelers, an embossed logo can identify work bags.
Size & Capacity
Carefully check luggage dimensions and capacity to ensure they accommodate your packing needs and meet airline restrictions. Height, length and width restrictions vary, but maximum dimensions are typically 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Overhead bin space is limited, so larger and expandable options should compress down. Try packing a measuring tape when shopping to assess size and capacity.
- Weigh packed bags at home to avoid overweight fees
- Compare dimensions to airline policies before buying
- Expandable and compressible materials add flexibility
Packing Strategies for Lightweighting Like a Pro
Once you secure the ideal luxury carry-on, proper packing is key to maximizing your bag’s potential. Follow these tips to travel light without sacrificing style or essentials.
Roll Don’t Fold
Rolling clothing maximizes space and minimizes wrinkles for a polished travel appearance. Lay items face down and tightly roll from bottom to top. Pack socks and undergarments into shoes to utilize all space. Arrange rolled items upright in rows, wedged snugly together.
Multitask With Clothing
Choose versatile fabrics and layering pieces that multitask, reducing the number of garments needed. Button-downs and blazers transition from day to night. Light cashmere like the $298 Naadam Essential Cashmere Sweater does triple duty as a sweater, scarf and pillow. Darker hues hide wrinkles. Clothing like belts and scarves can even secure packed items in place.
Build outfits around a color palette for mix-and-match versatility with fewer pieces. Stick to three main colors and two complementary accent shades. Include a neutral base layer, a button-down, jeans or trousers, a blazer, dress shoes and one cocktail look or accessory.
Know Airline Policies
Check luggage policies in advance for carry-on size limits, weight restrictions and fees. Weigh bags at home and redistribute contents if overweight. Put heavy shoes and accessories in first to optimize weight distribution. Adhere to liquid and gel allowances for toiletries.
- Roll don’t fold clothing to maximize space
- Choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics like cotton, synthetics, linen
- Lightweight layers work for daytime and cocktail attire
Top Airport Essentials for the Luxury Traveler
In addition to your stylish carry-on, a few travel accessories can elevate and ease the airport experience. Here are our recommended essentials for comfortable transit.
Block out the roar of the engines and the chaos of crowds with active noise cancellation headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($398). Brands like Bose and Sennheiser also make luxury models with pristine audio. Enjoy entertainment and make calls with crystal clarity, even amid a bustling terminal.
Security Check Gadgets
Avoid hold-ups at inspection with convenient gadgets like TSA-approved locks, laptop sleeves, transparent bags for carry-on liquids and electronic item pouches. Pro tip: freeze water bottles to get through security, then refill on the other side.
Soft Travel Blanket
Stay cozy in-flight with a plush travel blanket like the $98 LL Bean Merino Travel Wrap instead of flimsy airline versions. Materials like cashmere, merino wool and microfleece pack down small. Choose an oversized style to multitask as a scarf or shawl in the airport.
A roomy yet compact crossbody bag like the Tumi Voyageur Just In Case ($175) keeps essentials accessible during transit while your carry-on is stowed overhead. Go hands-free with anti-theft features like hidden zippers and RFID-blocking material. Look for an adjustable strap, internal organization and quick-access pockets.
Never face a drained phone battery away from an outlet again. Stash a slim power bank like the Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD ($22) in your carry-on or crossbody bag. Look for TSA-compliant size and USB/USB-C ports to charge multiple devices. A 10,000 mAh capacity powers most phones three to five times over.
Compression Packing Cubes
Packing cubes like the Shacke Pak Set of 5 ($40) maximize your carry-on capacity and organization. Compression cubes fit even more by squeezing down contents. Use cubes for categories like clothing, shoes, toiletries, electronics and miscellaneous. Packing and repacking is easier too.
- Store security bins, laptop sleeve, etc. in an easy access crossbody bag
- Cashmere or merino travel blankets provide luxury comfort
- Compression packing cubes allow you to fit more in carry-ons
Fly in Style – The Luxury of Flying Private
For those who can afford it, skipping crowded airports and flying private clearly optimizes the travel experience. Chartering a private jet allows you to breeze through smaller terminals with minimal fuss and literally fly in style. Consider these key benefits:
Private jet customers can drive directly onto the airport tarmac, skipping lines and crowds. Schedules are flexible based on your personal itinerary, with no unnecessarily early arrival times. Many private airlines like NetJets offer premium features like car service, lounge access, customs fast-tracking and golf cart transportation.
A flight crew dedicated solely to you provides personalized service rivaling a 5-star hotel. Request your favorite snacks, beverages and entertainment in advance. Some providers like FlexJet even allow you to customize aircraft interiors. Most private planes offer Wi-Fi connectivity to stay productive.
While airlines cram passengers in like sardines, private jets like the Gulfstream G650 focus on comfort. The spacious, upscale cabin layout has swiveling recliners, sofas, tables and entertainment systems. Onboard bathrooms provide privacy and hygiene. Some luxury aircraft even have bedrooms and full galleys.
Security & Health Benefits
Avoid crowds and minimize virus exposure risks when flying private. There is no contact with the general public aside from your own guests. You also skip airport security hassles, keeping your belongings close at hand without inspection delays.
Clearly for those who can indulge, private jet charters represent the peak of posh aviation. From hospitality to convenience to comfort and security, the luxury travel experience soars to new heights when flying private. Say bon voyage to the airport chaos and fly smoothly in high style.
Research charter companies’ specific aircraft and amenities to find the ultimate match for your private flight fantasies.
Roger Scoble blogs about the latest gadgets, travel and luxury news. A graduate of UCLA, Roger loves to travel, drive luxe autos and have amazing adventures.