Please solve my complicated luggage situation!
August 25, 2013 9:25 PM   Subscribe

I need luggage for three situations and I'm hoping I can wind up with just two items (and not spend too much money). I need a rolling case for my MacBook Pro and books for school, a piece of carry-on luggage for an upcoming trip, and a sturdy but not too heavy suitcase.

Situation 1: I need to carry my 17-inch MacBook Pro, a bunch of folders, supplies, and textbooks to work. Wheels are a necessity (it's a big campus, and my neck and back hate me right now!).

Situation 2: I need a decent carry-on/overnight bag. It needs wheels. It needs to fit some clothes, that 17-inch BMP, medication, sundries, my purse, and a water bottle. (I always have to carry a piece of medical equipment with me, so rather than carry my bag/laptop bag + carry-on + medical equipment, I prefer to combine everything into two items. They're supposed to know that the medical equipment doesn't count, but they don't always. One nasty Southwest attendant was enough, really.)

Situation 3: I need a piece of sturdy luggage. It needs wheels. It needs to fit bulky clothes/presents/etc. It can't be too huge or too heavy.

I'm hoping that 1 & 2 can be the same item, but if you have a better idea, let me know.

I can't pay more than $100-150 per item; I realize this is probably unrealistic, but eBags has some pretty good sale prices, so ... maybe?

Things I've eyed have included catalog bags and rolling backpacks, but they look really awkward. I have tried doing my own research at eBags and Amazon, but neither site is very reliable when it comes to fitting laptops, so...

Thanks for your help!
posted by wintersweet to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have this SwissGear suitcase with a padded laptop compartment. I believe there are more colors available in Target stores (mine is black). It is super easy to tote around because of its 4 spinner wheels, meets carry-on requirements, and can hold A LOT of stuff. My laptop is 13" but there's room to spare in the pocket, I imagine yours would fit fine.

I throw this bag on top as my "personal item" and often get away with no checked bags at all, because the gym bag can hold a couple of outfits in addition to my wallet, headphones, etc. etc. Maybe it could hold your medical equipment, too?
posted by charmcityblues at 9:38 PM on August 25, 2013

Oh, and I've had the suitcase for several years and countless transcon and international trips and it has held up beautifully. The only thing wrong with it is that the zipper pulls came off the main zippers, but that can easily be fixed.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2013

If budget is a concern spend more money on the item you'll use almost daily. Also, four spinning wheels make controlling wheeled cases much easier and allow you better posture walking than something you trail behind.

2nd case should also have four spinning wheels because that helps a lot when you are dealing with both at the same time.

Finally, it is tempting to make the 2nd case as big as airlines will accept but try to consider what you can actually lift as well. If it is too heavy for you to handle alone you will curse every single time you use it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:34 AM on August 26, 2013

Regarding #3: I've used a cheap Delsey 22" 2-wheeled carry-on for years & it has held up just fine; the equivalent or a 26" can be had for well under $100.

One word about 2 vs 4 wheels: the 4 wheelers are more maneuverable, but the 2 wheelers are better on uneven pavement. If you will be going car -> airport -> cab -> hotel, get the 4 wheeler. If you're thinking subway -> shuttlebus -> airport -> subway -> 20 minute walk to the B&B, you might want to stick with 2 wheels. My delsey uses in-line skate wheels & they are rugged as hell.
posted by mr vino at 5:40 AM on August 26, 2013

I just got a SUPERB deal (as in $400 off list) on a few Samsonite suitcases at TJMaxx/HomeGoods, so you might want to check there when deal hunting.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:45 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the big one, try finding a vintage Samsung Oyster 29 inch hardshell rolling suitcase. Really really durable, and not flashy or ugly. Don't fool yourself into thinking that it's something to carry beyond maybe a few flights of stairs, but it'll last ya.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I loved the idea of a squishy bag slung over a roller suitcase, but I just couldn't find the magic combination. However, I have ideas for future travel, so thanks! I wound up with a Swiss Gear backpack (black and boring, but with comfy straps and well laid out--it'll fit my huge laptop, an iPad, books or my medical stuff, the contents of my purse, and two water bottles). I also got a Samsonite spinner suitcase, which worked well enough doing airport -> A'rex -> short walk down the street to my AirBnB place. It turned out to be too big, which was fine since that way I could rearrange things and had plenty of room for souvenirs -- though I wish I had done even more shopping! Can't wait to go back.

Thanks all!
posted by wintersweet at 1:43 PM on September 28, 2013

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