7 Smart Bags to Bring Some Tech to Your Travel
The best smart luggage can charge your phone, keep your clothes organized and follow you through the airport!
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What is smart luggage?
Choosing smart luggage is just plain smart! Traveling with a smart bag means that if your flight is delayed or rerouted, you’ll be able to keep your devices connected and charged. “Smart luggage refers to wheeled suitcases with a battery integrated into their design,” says Andy Fallshaw, CEO and co-founder of Bellroy, a sustainable Australian brand focused on travel bags and accessories.
Fallshaw says, “The battery can help keep your phone and devices charged while traveling, but can also power a broader set of technology integrations such as inbuilt scales, tracking, lighting, solar panels and even electric propulsion to either scoot you across an airport or follow you as you walk.”
The best luggage brands in the smart luggage space offer carry-on, hard shell and underseat bags with charging capabilities, Bluetooth, a WiFi hotspot, GPS tracking or electronic locks. While some smart bags include cords to connect your own external batteries, others have removable batteries or solar-charging capabilities of their own.
Do airlines allow smart luggage?
While smart bags can be a real travel game-changer, they might cause your bagged to be flagged by TSA. “Smart bags are powered by lithium batteries, which can present a fire risk if they’re in the cargo hold of a plane during flight,” explains Sara Rathner, a travel expert for NerdWallet. Because of this risk, some airlines have enacted bans on certain smart bags and won’t allow you to check one unless the battery is removable.
Before you pack for your trip, check the TSA website for the latest updates. As of the publishing of this article, power banks are approved for carry-on bags but not for checked bags. Per TSA, “Portable chargers or power banks containing a lithium ion battery must be packed in carry-on bags.” If you’d like more information, the FAA has a full guide on portable rechargers.
The Polycarbonate Carry-On Max by Arlo Skye
In addition to having an airline-compliant removable lithium battery, Arlo’s Polycarbonate Carry-On Max features 10% more packing space than the brand’s standard carry-on and is made from a lightweight, impact-resistant material. It’s also zipperless and features an antimicrobial interior with two TSA-approved combo locks. Bonus: These smart bags come in three travel-friendly colors. Match it to your favorite travel pillow.
Delsey Paris Chatelet Hardside Luggage with Brake
There’s a reason Delsey Paris is one of the most covetable luggage brands around. This smart bag comes with unexpected bells and whistles, including a brake so your luggage doesn’t roll away from you no matter where you prop it up. Also notable, it has an extremely light polycarbonate shell to avoid extra weight, and four spinner wheels to make maneuvering this bag even easier. We love the TSA-approved combination lock and one-button locking handle system. Best of all, the built-in tracking device allows you to track your smart luggage without needing a separate key finder.
Samsara Smart Luggage
We’d like to think that if James Bond flew commercial, he’d probably use this sleek, chic smart Samsara bag. It’s constructed from lightweight aluminum alloy with a protective coating that comes in both black and silver. The battery is easily removable, and it features a smart unit that connects to your mobile app, which notifies you if your bag is taken or opened. Though the price tag is higher than others on our list, it’s a smart device that’s worth every penny.
Travelpro Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Spinner
Rathner says she has two non-negotiables when it comes to luggage: The bag must be lightweight so she doesn’t have to stress about weight restrictions and associated fees, and it must have four wheels so it’s easy to maneuver. This TravelPro smart bag meets both requirements.
“I’ve been using TravelPro bags for a few years, and I love them. They’re durable and still look new, even though I’ve taken them all over the world,” she says. “Soft-sided expandable bags allow you to fit more clothing in, which is helpful because you sacrifice space to accommodate four wheels. This bag doesn’t come with batteries, though it provides a pocket for you to plug in the device of your choice.” After buying this bag, the only thing left to think about what to wear on the plane.
Wrangler Smart Luggage Carry-On
If you’re used to working at your favorite cafe, the budget-friendly Wrangler smart bag is for you. Not only does it come with a USB port, there’s also a cup holder, so you can take your latte and laptop with you on your next trip. This cute carry on is expandable, in case you stock up on souvenirs while traveling. It comes in four retro shades (we really like the burnt orange) and you can even get it in a full three-piece smart luggage set. At less than $65, this is one of the most affordable smart bags around.
Matein Travel Laptop Backpack
While the Matein Laptop Backpack is incredible for air travel, it’s also perfect for college students or anyone who wants to protect their data and keep everything organized while they’re on the go. The separate laptop compartment holds computers up to 15.6 inches and has room for chargers, a mouse and other tech accessories. There’s a built in USB charger outside the bag that threads through to a cable inside—just connect an external battery and don’t worry about the cords. With a whopping 69,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.8 average rating, this travel backpack is an easy win.
Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner
If you prefer to travel light, the highly rated Samsonite Spinner is small enough to fit under most standard airline seats and comes in three neutral hues. The bag has an integrated charging port, though you do need to include your own battery. Lots of pockets include one that’s big enough to fit a laptop, and four multi-directional spinner wheels bring streamlined mobility. We love all the extra pockets for your other on-plane tech like a set of wireless headphones.
- Andy Fallshaw, CEO and co-founder of Bellroy
- Sara Rathner, travel expert for NerdWallet
- Federal Aviation Administration, Lithium Battery Safety Resources
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