Carry-on luggage: The final frontier of business style

Still using the same tired carry-on luggage you bought in your backpacking days? Time to throw it out and go with one of these stylish options.

The scene is set: you’ve prepped for your meetings, you’ve carefully selected your favorite suits that travel well, and you’re stepping into the airport, passport in hand. You should never get on a plane without ensuring that there’s a little je ne sais quoi about your airport fashion, and for good reason. You never know who you’ll bump into, and on top of that, it’s always smart to do everything you can to slide past inevitably irritable customs agents unnoticed.

You’re a businessperson who’s heading out to make waves in the world, but there’s one issue: You’re still lugging the same tired carry-on luggage you bought in your backpacking days. When you substituted your Under Armour for dress shirts with high thread counts, someone should have told you to do the same with your suitcase. If you forgot, you’re not alone. Many people before you have succumbed to the stress of travel and the forgotten important things. At least you brought your passport. Now we’ll introduce you to a few key rules for carry-ons that will prevent your luggage from becoming your travel style’s Achilles heel.

Say no to duffel bags

Though a duffel bag seems convenient for its malleable form, that very same characteristic will cause you hours of ironing when you get to your hotel. Sure, it is convenient when you’re trying to shove it into an overhead container, but it’s wiser to use something that isn’t going to be overtaken in a storage compartment by another flyer’s sturdier bag. The guy next to you doesn’t care if he squishes your suit jackets. Aim for something with a firmer shell for your clothes so you can part with it on the plane and not worry. The best dimensions for most airlines are 9″ x 15.5″ x 21.5″ or 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm.

Left: Herschel Supply Co. Rolling suitcase. Right: Victorinox Swiss Army Global Hard Sided Rolling Carry-On.

Choose a case with wheels

You’re running in and out of another city on business, maybe even transferring planes, and you will have your carry-on with you every step of the way. Do you really want to be the sweaty guy carrying his suitcase and panting as he runs up to the flight gate? Nope.
So pick a case with wheels. Even smarter, pick one with wheels that turn 360 degrees! When you’re busy thinking about whether you’re supposed to board at Gate 1 or Gate 2, you won’t be tripped up by your luggage. Plus, if you need to grab something out of your suitcase in a pinch, it’s even easy to maneuver from a seated position.

The Domestic Carry On Expandable Spinner from Briggs & Riley.

Pack Smart, Separate Your Toiletries

Traditionally known as a dopp kit, packing a smaller bag of toiletries saves you from discovering toothpaste all over your favorite tie when you’re unpacking at your hotel. Getting everything you need into a carry-on can be tricky when you need to think about attending events with different levels of formality. So, have all your things, like razors and lint rollers, in one area so you don’t leave anything behind, and roll your clothes to avoid wrinkling anything that needs to be crisp before you step out. It is entirely possible to pack all you need for a reasonably short trip into a carry-on if everything is property compartmentalized! Between rolling and your dopp kit, you’ve already freed up valuable compartments and space for the other things you’ll want for your journey.

Left: Nike leather travel kit. Right: Ted Baker towel set & travel kit.

We’ll leave the debates about garment bags and proper laptop cases to another conversation. But with these simple tips, you’re ready for takeoff.

Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a fashion and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. She has worked as Associate Publisher of Private Islands magazine and Lifestyle Editor of Style Empire, and has contributed to NOW Magazine.