So many suitcases. Red ones and blue ones and ones with pictures of dogs. Soft side and hard side, rollers and carry ons. Nothing sums up the travel industry like the dizzying array of travel bags on display at the Travel Goods Association Show. 2016 was no exception as all of the big companies debuted some form of luggage that was more of something,so I won’t bore you with the details on that!
As an example, I am pretty sure that my wife (who I have converted to carry on but not to avoid wheels) is going to insist on having one of these as she is simply mad for animal prints!
There continues to be a trend in the industry of outdoor oriented companies crossing their wares over into the more mainstream travel, and Eagle Creek has long been one of my favorites in this domain. They did line extensions on their incredibly useful line of packing cubes and were showing off their line of AWD (yes, that does stand for All Wheel Drive) suitcases.
They are a crossover product with outdoor style materials and really rugged wheels that look like they came from a mountain bike. The Tarmac AWD 22 inch version looks like it would make a nice carry on but do beware that most regional jets are not allowing any bags with wheels on board now, even if they will fit in the overhead.
I will clear and to the point here. I hate travel pillows. They typically don’t work, are bulky and take up too much room to be practical. It was with some reservations that I took a sample of the new Evolution Cool from Cabeau.
I made the rather poor choice of taking a redeye out of Vegas from the show and wrapped the Evolution around my neck before sliding into an uneasy slumber. One of the challenges with sleeping on a plane is that the natural position your head falls back into has the base of your skull rubbing against the top of the spine. A neck pillow keeps this from happening but doesn’t do much else. The Evolution did a better job of eliminating the flopping you normally suffer through on a plane and the venting did keep me from overheating. All I know is that I got on the plane and slept from Vegas to Chicago so something is working right here!
There were multiple compression sock companies on the floor at the TGA this year. The basic idea with compression socks is that they are tight just above the ankle and decrease in pressure as they stretch up your leg toward your knee. This helps with blood flow so that you don’t have blood pooling in your extremities. Given the potential issues with DVT on long flights, compressions socks are a really good idea.
Unfortunately, it is hard not to feel like a geriatric when wearing them and they looked more medical than stylish. Sockwell is aiming to change that. With a luxurious blend of merino wool and bamboo fibers, the socks feel great, resist odors and come in a range of colors and patterns that will not make you feel like you are living in a retirement home. They even made me change my socks on the spot!
Although Incase is better known for tech accessories than luggage they were on site showing their determination to become a lifestyle brand (I am weary of that phrase). Their luggage offerings were sophisticated and clean, and typically featured excellent capabilities for carrying a laptop and a tablet along on your trip. I look forward to seeing them further develop these ideas and I really like the look of their City Line products.
Bags and Packs
There were several new comers to the show this year including Cabin Zero, a British brand that came into being making bags designed to hit the stringent requirements of the budget airlines in Europe. The bags are simple and clean and come in a wide range of colors and all feature convertible backpack straps. They also are VERY price competitive.
GoPlug is really a power company masquerading as a bag company, but the really clever bit is that you can charge more than just your phone with their system, it even features an actual AC outlet and the system can be modularized to have the outputs you need. Camera guys are going to be all over this once the finished product is out.
Although Healthy Back Bag is a bit of a mouthful, their tear drop shaped slings make a lot of sense to distribute weight in a way that is most comfortable for your back. The shape causes the focus of the weight to land right at the base of the spine and can make it feel like you are carrying far less than you actually are. They come in a range of sizes, colors and fabrics from girlie to techie.
VN Bags was showing their range of packs and I particularly like their Slim Line laptop packs. These are so svelte that they are really more about keeping your hands free and not carrying everything you own. They were also showing drop in organizer panels for packs that don’t have internal organization, or idiots like me that change bags far too often.
Bits and Bobs
Well you have to carry a passport when you go somewhere and you don’t want it pickpocketed so near your body is your best bet. If you hate money belts and pouches than the travel bra may be the choice for you! A couple of pockets and pouches keep your valuables “close to your chest” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and where even the most talented thieves will be unable to get at them.
Also clever was the simple but useful Airpocket which is sort of a cross between a travel organizer and a tiny tablet bag. It has internal pockets and dividers and is sized to just slip into a seat back pouch so you can get at all your critical bits during a flight. When you get off the plane you can zip it up and throw the shoulder strap cross body so you don’t have to tie up your hands. Just big enough but not too big to bother.
I will have a range of things over the next couple of weeks to get more in depth with but that should give your a flavor of the things that are brewing in the travel biz. Fly safe and try to act like a local!