luggage

Why The Perfect Carry-On Is So Important

I’m not going to bury the lead on this one - I’ve found a new carry-on suitcase that I absolutely love, and before you roll your eyes and think, “Not another love letter to Away luggage…” stop right there! This is all about CHESTER. A simpler, cheaper, lighter, carry-on suitcase. If you read the whole thing, you’ll be rewarded with a discount code (hint: it’s PBISMYBF).

CHESTER Luggage Review

Is it just me, or does the incline on the jet bridge after a cross-country or international flight feel less like a ramp and more like a mountain?  I’m not simply getting from my plane to the terminal, I’m trekking to the summit of Machu Picchu.  And my labored, waddling walk (while dramatic to be certain) has become a staple of each flight I take. 

After sitting for so many hours, even the slight uphill walk feels like a hike – your legs are unsteady, weak, and seem to be the only thing that managed to fall asleep during the flight.

As you trudge up and up and up in the search of a bathroom larger than a coat closet the last thing you want is to be dragging along a two-wheeled carry-on suitcase with wheels wobblier than your legs.

In those moments your suitcase can feel like a bag of bricks you’re being forced to roll around with you. You’re questioning every item you put in your bag and wondering if you really needed that third pair of shoes for your two-day trip. “Can I just give this damn thing back to the flight attendant and send it home?” you think in your moment of travel-induced theatrics.

And that’s sad! Your suitcase is your companion that comes with you on important business meetings. It carries that report you busted your ass on and the power heels you’re going to wear during your presentation.

Your suitcase accompanies you on all of your exciting vacations – weekend trips to bucket-list cities. It’s holding all the penis decorations for your friends Bachelorette weekend in Nashville and you’ve got beads galore for Mardis Gras in New Orleans.

Your suitcase is there for your when you’re determined to pack for a week-long Euro trip in a carry-on sized suitcase. You sure as hell aren’t paying over-sized baggage fees for your Supersized, American luggage.

Your suitcase is there for friend reunions – packed with all their favorite East Coast delicacies (still figuring out the best way to pack donuts, but I’ll keep you posted).

Your suitcase is there for terrible moments too, wheeling along by your side as you travel home for funerals or surgeries. Packed with your lucky stuffed animal from childhood for comfort and pictures of memories you’ll never forget.

No matter the occasion, you need it. You need it to hold all your valuable possessions, gifts, souvenirs, ‘gram worthy outfits and that ridiculously expensive face cream.

So why not have a suitcase that you LOVE? That makes you smile when you pack it. That makes you feel stylish and put together and competent while you navigate the stressful maze of TSA lines, boarding zones and public transportation.

You might be thinking, “this girl is being really dramatic about the importance of a suitcase.” But I really think the Marie Kondo mentality naturally extends to something like a suitcase.

And that’s because recently, I’ve experienced the joy a suitcase can spark. And I’m telling you, it’s glorious. The best comparison I can make is to the feeling you get when you look down at your freshly manicured nails and feel like you can take on anything. I know you all know what I’m talking about.

The same thing happens when I walk through the airport or Penn Station with my new CHESTER light blue hard-shell carry-on suitcase. I am calm, I am cool, I am collected (I am hoping I packed deodorant because I sweat a LOT when I travel for some reason). I am the picture of put-together (I am wearing mismatched socks with holes when I walk through security).

$60 discount luggage from no-name brands at Marshall’s are a thing of the past thanks to so many startup direct-to-consumer luggage companies. Yes, you’ll spend more money – but you’re likely to care about something more if you view it as an investment. So many of these new brands standby seriously impressive 5-year, 10-year and even lifetime warranties.

I used to think, “Another broken zipper, guess I’ll just buy another cheap suitcase this weekend.” Or, “Damn – wheel is shot again. Guess I’ll just get another.” That adds up. 

A certain company (that rhymes with vacay) seems to be the unparalleled star of the millennial suitcase game – but I didn’t want to blindly jump onto the Instagram-driven, influencer-fueled, blogger-backed bandwagon.

So I started researching. I asked Google a lot of things like:

“Why is Away suitcase so popular?”
Is Away luggage really that great?
“What’s the best carry-on suitcase?”

I will admit that Away has a lot of solid reviews from people saying, “I was a skeptic, but it really is great!” And that’s awesome.

But I realized there were a lot of other options out there that sounded great too! Some of them were far out of my price range (Rimowa and Tumi) and some were the classics (TravelPro, Samsonite) that just seemed too mainstream and dull for this millennial on the hunt for her new travel best friend.  I understand that sounds absurd, but I’m hoping at least some people out there that are reading are nodding their heads in agreement.

I found CHESTER in my searches and noticed that the price point, the aesthetic, the materials, their social media presence - all made seemed like something I could get behind.

I contacted CHESTER about testing out their carry-on suitcase (called the Minima Carry-On Spinner Suitcase”) so I could write about it and they agreed to send me one in baby blue.

It arrived in the mail and I was beyond excited. He (I named him Chester, because I’m original and unique) came in a fancy little bag to keep him from getting scratched during his journey and the color of the suitcase alone was enough for me to hug him.

But as I’ve traveled with my new Chester Travels bag, I’ve come to love it for many more reasons (though I still think the color is SO PRETTY and happens to match perfectly with my packing cubes).

1.       Hard-Shell Convert

This is my first hard-shell suitcase and I was very hesitant to make the switch. I was a big fan of soft suitcases that gave me the option to shove things in last minute, sit on it, and force it to close.

But I love that CHESTERS’ hard-shell suitcase is a clam shell design which gives me two separate compartments to pack in. I’ve found this incredibly helpful to separate dirty clothes from clean clothes, shoes from clothes, etc.

One thing to note is that the ribbing of the suitcase means that the bottom of the compartments isn’t entirely flat – it’s grooved. I try to layer the bottom with shoes in the grooves and then put my packing cubes on top of them.

What I don’t love is that sometimes its hard to zip the cover on each compartment – but that’s just because I’m trying to fit too much. I’m a little scared I’ll end up stretching it and breaking the zipper, but so far, it’s handled my stubbornness.

I also like that these two flaps on either side have small zippered compartments for smaller things you don’t want floating around in your bag. They can only accommodate fairly flat items, but I’ve used it for things like chargers, my workout gliders, a jewelry bag, etc.

Photo from CHESTER website.

Photo from CHESTER website.

The best part of a hard-shell suitcase is actually what I initially feared – it doesn’t allow me to over stuff it. It makes me more organized when I’m packing. And it stops my suitcase from looking like it’s going to explode which in turn makes me feel more put together.

That being said, the CHESTER is made of 100% polycarbonate - it’s indestructible but also can expand for those last minute items you just need to get into your bag. And it’s waterproof which means no picking up your luggage off the belt to find it’s soaking wet!

I just wish that there could be a small front compartment on hard shell suitcases for throwing in a passport or boarding pass that you need quick access to when you’re juggling a bunch of things.

2.       Smooth Ride

Since I’ve started traveling a lot for work and pleasure, I’ve always had a suitcase with four wheels (and honestly, it’s 2019 – everyone should!) but I’ve NEVER had a suitcase that rolls as smoothly and effortlessly as Chester Travels.

When I brought it into the office the other day, I stopped at everyone’s desks and asked them to take it for a spin.

I danced around my office like I was performing a choreographed ballroom dance with my suitcase. Don’t judge me.

When I walk with my CHESTER want to sing “Gliding” from Ragtime and if anyone reading this gets that reference, please be my friend. Also, now seems like a good time to mention that the handle itself is comfortable to hold and easy to telescope up and down. My coworker pointed out how sturdy it feels when you’re rolling your suitcase alongside you - whereas his feels loose and wobbles back and forth.

I’ve now rolled this suitcase through NYC streets, through Penn Station (I promise you this is the most horrendous place on earth to navigate with a suitcase at rush hour), through many airports and many hotel hallways (I would like to start a petition for all hotels to stop carpeting their hallways) and it’s amazed me every time.

Also, Chester fit perfectly when I brought him to workout at F45!

CHESTER Carry On Review

3.       Light! 

This suitcase is ridiculously light. It weighs 7 measly pounds. I can use a finger to pick it up. I know that because yes, I tried. Again, don’t judge me.

Lighter is not always better, but it is when it comes to road bikes and suitcases. Lifting this bad boy up into the overhead bin has been a dream. Walking it up and down subway stairs – I’ll never need to ask for help again.

4.       Colorful

While I’m biased and love the baby blue color of my suitcase, CHESTER offers seven different colors. It’s just a fun way to feel like your suitcase is a little more personalized. If you choose black, I’m just going to assume you’re from Manhattan.

So far, the suitcase hasn’t gotten discolored or scratched despite trips on the subway, Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, and multiple flights. It seems to be very durable.

I’m curious if the material of this suitcase would allow me to put stickers on the front of it. While it’s so clean looking right now, I have a huge collection of brewery stickers that I never know where to put.

5.       TSA-Lock

CHESTER suitcases don’t have a built-in charger which was no big deal to me. I think they just sound like an ordeal considering not all airlines are on the same page in terms of whether or not they’re allowed. Plus, almost every airport on the planet now has chargers available. And many planes have USB ports in each seat. 

But I digress – what CHESTER does have is a lock. To be honest – I haven’t used it yet. When I’m traveling on an airline, my suitcase is always with me. It doesn’t seem necessary to have it locked. That being said – on an Amtrak train or a ferry boat where luggage is stored in a main luggage area, I think I’ll love having this option to lock my bag.

And the biggest plus of a lock that I can think of is HOSTELS. Yay for easily locking your bag when you leave your hostel room for the day.

Have you ever landed early in a foreign country and it’s been way too early to check into your hostel? So they lead you to this totally sketchy room full of people’s suitcases with no lock on the door or security around and tell you, “Feel free to leave your things here while you walk around until we can give you a room!” Yeah, I’ve never felt super confident walking away from my suitcase in those scenarios.  But I WILL now that there’s a lock right on my bag!

IN CONCLUSION

Next up, I need a mid-size and large checked bag and if I find something I love, I will let the internet know! In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that CHESTER expands their line of luggage.

CHESTER offers a 30 day trial - during that time you can return it no questions asked if you decide it’s not for you. After that, it’s covered by a 10 year limited warranty for any broken parts.

A suitcase is always going to be slightly laborious to clean and press into an overhead bin or roll up that damn jet bridge. It’s never going to be big enough to fit every piece of clothing you try to shove into it.

But it can be something you feel happy to have along with you on your journey. Proud to roll smoothly beside you.

And now the promised discount code! If you’re on the market for a new carry-on and want to buy a CHESTER, use the code PBISMYBF when you check-out for 10% off! And then spend the $20 you saved on something great like a honey cinnamon latte (just had one for the first time in Idaho and I’m HOOKED).

CHESTER Luggage Review

CHESTER provided me with a carry-on suitcase free of charge in exchange for my honest review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Just so everyone who reads here knows how I typically handle these types of reviews – had I hated the suitcase, I would have let the company know that I thought it was best not to write about them on my blog. I’m not looking to give anyone negative PR (unless they deserve it) but I DO want to share things I love and am excited about and I’m really really excited about my new suitcase 😊

YOUR TURN!

Are you a fan of soft or hard suitcases?

What color is your carry-on?

Do you have any recommendations for checked luggage?

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