This $130 carry-on suitcase has features that would normally cost a lot more including a USB port, fully rotating wheels, and clever dividers

Business Insider 2 months ago

I'm not someone who cares a lot about having the latest things, but I do care about taking any opportunities I can get to travel.

That means that as much as I hate shopping, I've spent a good amount of time trying to find the perfect luggage for everything from quick road trips to multi-week international adventures. I've tried duffel bag rollers (too floppy), soft-sided carry-ons (too hard to pull), and camping backpacks (too heavy and hard to carry).

After years of flying at least once a month, I finally decided to get a high-quality suitcase.

The Traveler's Choice Smart USB Port Hardside Spinner Suitcase is only $130 but has high-end features that would usually cost so much more

Silverwood II luggage
Suzie Dundas/Business Insider

Anyone with an Instagram account has probably seen photos of AWAY luggage, the trendy travel brand loved by millennials and even the Insider Picks team.

The suitcases come in various shades of pastel, and because they're hard-sided, they're durable enough for frequent travel. They also come with a removable battery pack to ensure you never have a dead phone and an expandable zipper so you can make your bag a few inches wider for longer trips.

The problem? The 22" carry-on suitcase starts at $225— far too much for my budget, which is why I don't have one.

So I did some research to find one with all the same features at a lower price tag. The Traveler's Choice Smart USB Port Hardside Spinner Suitcase comes with every feature I want and a price tag that's more than $100 cheaper than Away's.

It has a removable battery pack, durable hard clamshell case, four sturdy wheels, ergonomic handle, built-in dividers

Traveler's Choice luggage
Suzie Dundas/Business Insider
I truly love this bag for one reason — it has everything I want without the steep price tag.

I chose the navy blue color as I wanted a trendy color. The design has black accents, so it looks modern but professional; I'd imagine I could go right from an airport to a meeting without looking out of place.

As soon as my suitcase arrived, I noticed it had thoughtful design features that can be hard to find in affordable luggage, like rubber bumpers on the corners to prevent damage and a curved, ergonomic handle that's more comfortable to pull over long distances.

While many budget-friendly suitcases have two wheels, the Traveler's Choice one has four, all of which can rotate 360 degrees. That makes it easy to push and pull with way less effort than a normal roller bag; even with my hands full, I'm able to pull the packed suitcase with just one finger. It's also easy to move forward, backward, and sideways with ease; it was nice to roll the suitcase through airplane aisles rather than awkwardly holding it sideways.

The built-in dividers help optimize space — I was able to easily fit everything I needed for a weeklong road trip

My favorite design feature ended up being the zippered pockets and dividers that kept all my clothes in place.

One side of the clamshell-style suitcase is just a large zippered compartment, this wound up being the most useful as it kept all my clothing neatly and securely in place, especially when full.

On the other half, instead of a zipper, there's a flap with pockets and adjustable straps. The flap covers whatever you have in that compartment and can be tightened to help keep your clothes in place whether you've packed in six hoodies or just a few T-shirts.

Both sides have additional zippered pockets perfect for charging cables, jewelry, or small travel accessories.

I combined the suitcase with packing cubes and was amazed by how much I could fit in there. Thanks to the smart dividers, I was able to pack much more than I'd fit in my old roller bag. I easily packed for a weeklong road trip, fitting four pairs of pants, four shorts, a week's worth of socks and underwear, five T-shirts, three long-sleeve shirts, four hoodies and jackets, and two pairs of shoes.

And there was no need to sit on my suitcase to make everything fit either since I used the extra central zipper to get two more inches of space.

The removable battery pack is incredibly helpful too

Traveler's Choice
Suzie Dundas/Business Insider
The high-tech pièce de résistance is what really convinced me to try it — a built-in USB port that can be used with a battery pack.

You don't need to buy a Traveler's Choice-branded battery pack — you can use any you already have as long as it uses a USB. There's a small zippered pocket inside the bag to hold the battery, saving you room in your bag. The USB port is on the outside of the suitcase, but the charger cord is stored safely away inside. It's compact, hides annoying cords, and even has a silicone cover to protect the charging port when not in use.

I've dragged it over stairs and streets, and even dropped it a few times, but the suitcase hasn't dented and the wheels are totally fine

As a frequent traveler, I care most about durability. The Traveler's Choice Smart USB suitcase checks that box with ease.

During my road trip, I carried the bag up to the fifth floor of a hotel, banged it around in the trunk of a car, rolled it off curbs and down stairs, and knocked it over more than a few times. The suitcase shows absolutely zero dents and the wheels are functioning as they did on day one, despite being wheeled over dirt, rocks, and plenty of potholes.

It has a few small scratches and smudges that are only noticeable up-close, so I'm certain that it's going to last through several years of heavy use. I haven't found many immediate downsides of this bag yet, though durability issues probably won't show themselves for some time.

It doesn't come with its own battery pack, so you'll need to buy your own

From an aesthetic standpoint, it isn't totally scratch-proof, as I dropped it face-down onto a gravel path and it now has a very small mark. While scratches don't matter to me at all, someone very concerned with aesthetics may get a bit annoyed by them.

My biggest complaint is around the length of the pull-up handle. It's fine for me at five-foot-seven, but someone over 6-feet tall may find that it's a bit too short.

It also doesn't come with the battery pack. To me, this should've been included as it makes it cheaper and more convenient for travelers who don't have a backup power source.

Though I find $130 a reasonable price given all the features, it's definitely not cheap, but depending on the size you need, it can start at $80 and go up to $180. But it does have all the features I was looking for at my budget, and the built-in USB port came in handy on my very first trip with the suitcase, so I'd definitely recommend it to any traveler.

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