Best Luggage for Business Travelers

Filed Under: Business

If packing effectively is an art, then luggage is the canvas. Luggage can make or break a business traveler's experience. A traveler often opts to carry it with them up to hundreds of miles per year. For some, schlepping a carry-on through the airport beats wasting valuable time waiting at the ticket counter and at baggage claim.

Tom Nelson, president of luggage retailer Colorado Bag'n Baggage, says the chain's customers seek lightweight bags that won't break en route, have plenty of packing capacity and organizational compartments, and fit easily into overhead bins. "[Luggage] has to be comfortable, durable and maneuverable," adds packing expert Susan Foster, creator of SmartPacking.com.

Toughness is important for full-size suitcases that might be thrown around and exposed to the elements when checked, Foster says. Hard-side polycarbonate and ballistic nylon are a couple of popular, durable materials.

Because luggage designs constantly improve and airline bag-size regulations continuously change, reevaluate the practicality and longevity of your luggage every few years, Foster says. Shop in person at a luggage specialty store, and seek out the most knowledgeable salespeople.

"If you can't afford the lines that that store sells, at least you'll have the background [on what makes good luggage]. There's a lot of things you can learn," she says. Then search online for the best prices.

Here are our picks for the best luggage for business travelers:

John Hart Airport Chico Bag, $29

Forget using a new, flimsy Ziploc bag for 3-ounce toiletries each time you pack your carry-on. Reuse this TSA-compliant, clear, heavy and zippered plastic bag. It's also stylish, featuring leather trim and a medallion for monogram personalization in 13 colors. The gusseted bottom allows the contents to stay upright.

Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag, $120

This TSA-compliant bag is ideal for frequent travelers because the laptop compartment zips open to lie flat through airport security x-ray machines. That means there's "no need to juggle your laptop or use a plastic bin ever again," says Maria Perez, marketing manager of airfare search engine Fly.com. The bag, which easily attaches to an upright carry-on or suitcase, comes in 5 colors and 3 sizes.

Briggs and Riley 20-inch Carryon Expandable Wide-Body Upright, $399

Wide-body, 20-inch bags have the same packing capacity as standard, 21- to 22-inch bags but fit much better in airplane overhead bins, Nelson says. At 9.6 pounds, it's heavier than our other picks, but its built-in garment sleeve for suits, overall durability and lifetime guarantee impressed us. Be careful of expanding the bag since you may wrinkle or damage items in overhead bins. The carry-on is a favorite of airline captain and GlobalHenry.com blogger Henry Biernacki, because he's able to send the bag to the company for free repair or replacement if something happens en route. "I have it ready in a few weeks or sooner," Biernacki says.

Club Glove Pilot Flight Bag Ensemble, $499

Designed by a private pilot, this 7-piece set is made for frequent fliers. With a 5-year, no-questions-asked warranty, it's also made to last. The pieces easily fit together for optimal maneuverability.

Flight attendant and travel blogger Heather Poole fell in love with this set mostly because of the "Piggy Back 2" carry-on, which includes 2 clothing organizers, a detachable day backpack and shoe compartments. It "glides like butter," even in snow, Poole says. It's an inch taller than most carry-ons but is lightweight at 8.8 pounds.

Samsonite Black Label Cosmolite 32" Spinner Luggage, $600

This hard-side suitcase is lighter than many carry-on bags at just 8.6 pounds and "you could lift it with your little finger," says Carolyn Paddock, CEO of InFlightIinsider.com, a luxury air travel website. "For lightweight, durable luggage you could check, this is very popular."

The spinner wheels roll 360 degrees upright in any direction in minimize weight on your arm. The stylishly designed suitcase features a push-button handle that locks when fully extended or recessed to avoid damage when not in use. It also has a built-in, TSA-compliant combination lock to protect your contents while following security regulations.