Times are tough right now. You are probably on a budget like everybody else, including me—which means I’m looking for every possible way to cut back, particularly when it comes to travel expenses. Paying $40 to check a bag…in this economy? No thank you.
Enter The Bigger Carry-On suitcase from Away. This piece of luggage may very well be the answer to your prayers. Why? Although not at all new, the travel accessories company researched the overhead bin sizes for a long list of airlines (both domestic and international) and designed this carry-on to be as large as possible while still adhering to size restrictions. Even more helpful, you can check that compliance list for yourself before making a purchase or booking a flight. Personally, it gives me peace of mind to know that I’m really making the most out of every inch of space. Though it’s also important to note that, culturally, the retailer has had its fair share of scandals through the years.
In terms of features, The Bigger Carry-On has it all (pretty much). It’s lightweight and has a compressive panel inside—and when I say compressive, I really mean it. Pull the straps like a corset and it flattens your clothes. Voilà! It also has a TSA-approved lock and, one of my favorite offerings, a waterproof laundry bag that detaches and rolls up to use hardly any space at all. There’s even an optional portable battery attachment for an additional cost, but I think it’s worth it for those nightmare scenarios when your phone is dying and there are no outlets in sight.
It has four wheels with 360-degree spin, which at first made me think, big whoop, who cares? Then I had the slightly traumatic experience of borrowing a huge suitcase from my parents. It only had two wheels, and I don’t know what kind of spin it was, but it certainly wasn’t 360 degrees. When it comes to suitcase wheels, you really don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Now, I appreciate this carry-on’s easy mobility even more. Lastly, Away offers a 100-day trial period, so there’s really no pressure.
Okay, let’s talk about durability. I confess that my carry-on is quite new, and has only been on a handful of trips with me thus far. That said, I can’t vouch much for its longevity. My dear friend Amber Love Bond, on the other hand, has brought her Bigger Carry-On on over 100 trips over the past five years. As a full-time travel writer who visited 39 destinations just last year alone, this girl knows her stuff. So when she says her bag has held up flawlessly, it counts for something.
She also agrees that you’ll have a sufficient amount of space. “It’s Narnia; It holds everything,” she tells me. While I haven’t had the chance to bring mine on a trip longer than five days, Bond says she regularly packs hers for up to 12 days at a time—and she’s not one to skimp on fashion, I can attest. (Her record was 29 outfits for 12 days in Tahiti.) “I have absolutely zero complaints,” she says. From a professional traveler, that’s pretty unbelievable.
For what it’s worth, I conducted my own test and found that I could easily pack five pairs of full-length pants, five long-sleeve tops, two dresses, two bulky sweaters, two swimsuits, one set of pajamas, one exercise outfit, two pairs of shoes, my toiletry case, and an iPad. I probably could have squeezed in more if I had, you know, actually been packing.
Listen, dragging any luggage through the rough-and-tumble streets of New York City will never be a delight. That’s just a fact. So when it comes to judging a suitcase by its ability to hold up to metropolitan areas, I never hope for much. Do the wheels fall off? If so, that’s bad. But my Away has survived its brief encounters with NYC and all its elements, and Bond tells me she’s made it through Paris’ cobblestone streets and Glasgow’s rain with no issues from her suitcase either. (Although she does recommend traveling with a magic eraser to keep it clean from any scuffs.)
As I commit to the carry-on lifestyle, my final verdict is that this suitcase is well-worth the $295 price tag—$315 if you opt for the battery. That adds up to about seven checked bags, meaning this carry-on pays itself back in less than four roundtrips. Saving myself the cost of checking a bag, plus the time spent waiting at baggage claim (I waited for 90 minutes once), and the serenity of knowing my bag will not get lost? I’m in. Worst comes to worst, I might have to gate check it every now and then, but I’ll still revel in the extra $40 in my pocket. If you see me at an airport from now on, it’ll be with my trusty Away.
Associate Fashion Commerce Editor
Meg is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at ELLE.com where she researches trends, tests products, and looks for answers to all your burning questions. She also co-writes a monthly column, Same Same But Different. Meg has previously written for Cosmopolitan and Town & Country. Her passions include travel, buffalo sauce, and sustainability. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.