Travel: Excellent Lightweight Luggage from Tumi, Marks & Spencer, & Plia Designs

by Sasha Wilkins on March 26, 2014 · 3 comments

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After years of lugging around terrible bags, bought from street vendors, and those sell-everything stores on 14th Street, I am now the very happy possessor of proper, streamlined luggage – cases that don’t ping open when thrown around by baggage handlers, or duffels that tear when or l throw them down the five floors of a Manhattan walk-up.

In fact I now have the ultimate travel indulgence of different cases for different kinds of trips. On my recent mission to the Philippines and to Malaysia, I took my largest suitcase, along with a cabin wheelie and a large handbag.

My Tumi Vapor International Carry On (above left) is one of the greatest things I have ever been given, and it goes on every single trip I make. It’s very lightweight, spins like silk on four wheels so doesn’t have to be dragged, and is almost silent as it whizzs along. It’s remarkably resilient: it’s been everywhere from Los Angeles to the Philippines, in the hold, in trucks, slid under seats, and dragged over concrete, and it still looks box fresh. No scrapes, no dints, no cracks.

Short haul, it meets every airline requirement for carry-ons, and is perfect for overnights to Paris on the Eurostar. Long haul, I use it to cart my mobile office into the passenger cabin: that’s my laptop, tablet, cables, camera cases, and Eagle Creek box of tricks.  After losing a camera at Heathrow a few years back, I think it’s safer to have my working life all packed together in one case that I won’t forget  - as opposed to lots of smaller bags swinging about; (I left that camera hanging on the back of a trolley).

The huge silver case (honestly it’s ENORMOUS), is an inexpensive M&S  Scorpius Large Rollercase - in sale here. The first thing I did when I made a paycheque from the blog in 2010 was to buy myself several differently sized, proper lightweight, four wheeled cases, so I could get rid of those cheapo black nylon duffel bags I had been dragging around since I moved to New York in 2006.

I bought it on the recommendation of brilliant Sam Baker, then the editor-in-chief of Red magazine, and it was a superb buy. Its polycarbonate shell means it is extraordinarily lightweight, and it has clever tricks, like the padded handles on top and on the side so you don’t hurt your hands lifting it off conveyor belts, and the like. Granted, unlike the Tumi, it does now look very much like it has travelled hundreds of thousands of miles in the four years I’ve had it – but that’s because it has.

Oh and both cases have those clever integrated zipper locks that are US security friendly – so if they have to be opened by officials out of your presence, the locks won’t be broken.

My travel handbag of choice used to be my very nice tan silky snake Mulberry Bayswater, but it doesn’t have a lining or any internal pockets, unlike my navy and black leather Plia Reid satchel, which has loads of clever little pockets inside, and two zippered external ones. I was given it coming up to two years ago, and it still looks as good as new: the leather is fantastic quality, seems completely impermeable to any liquids, and the quilted lining still looks clean. I cannot recommend these bags highly enough – and at $550 – £330 at today’s rate, it looks well-priced compared to its rivals.

(That’s my Crumpet Cashmere scarf poking out of it for the plane journey.)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

nancyblackett March 26, 2014 at 07:46

I love this kind of post, not least of which I am always searching for the perfect travel bags. I have a michael kors bag for my laptop and iPad but it doesn’t have a zip top so is hopeless for the overhead compartments where everything falls out. I end up taking a tumi-like roller bag to stuff everything in but the michael kors bag for going to the office at various destinations. I love the look of that satchel – must save up!

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Emer March 27, 2014 at 13:16

Thanks for the tip re M&S suitcases. I’m in the market for a new case and everything I saw was super expensive. Will definitely check it out.

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Emily Jayne March 31, 2014 at 09:01

I also have a fab M&S large suitcase – I don’t do anywhere near as much travelling as you but it has done me proud!

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