I recently decided that traveling more would become a focus of mine for the upcoming year. The very little traveling I’ve done I have really loved but it’s always been in the mindset of being a “vacation”. I don’t want to view traveling and working as these two separate boxes that never overlap. I actually really like the idea of getting lost coding on a project in some far away random place like a hotel in Seattle or some tea shop in rural Japan. There is something I really like about merging experiencing different cultures and letting it help fuel my ideas in the moment, rather than come home after a week trying to convince myself I’m “refueled” and ready to go.

With the ideas for traveling flying around my head, I actually started to think about the scene from “Up In The Air” that shows George Clooney’s character packing and proceeding through the airport with ease. The fluid, comically magical way he packed and proceeded through security was very appealing to someone like myself who hates airports. Airports would be a necessary evil if I were serious about traveling, so the first step was obvious. I needed a really awesome carry-on. The search began.

My desired features for the perfect carry-on luggage entailed storing enough clothes for about a week comfortably, while also having organized space for the necessary tech I would bring along with me. This also meant my laptop had to be easily accessible to pull in and out for security. Naturally being a nerd, I first looked into “Smart Luggage” with “Bluesmart” being the most popular. It seemed appealing at first glance. GPS tracking, weight measurement display, built in USB charging, and remote lock/unlocking of the luggage all seemed like pretty cool features. What I couldn’t justify was the $500+ price tag.

The USB charger support is nice, but I already carry a Mophie charger around with me, so it’s a bit redundant. (not to mention some users of the carry-on have complained of being pulled out of line repeatedly due to the inner-luggage-wiring looking odd on an xray machine. As time goes on, this may become less of an issue) The locking/unlocking from your phone seemed pretty cool until a friend who works at an airport pointed out that any bags with a zipper can easily be opened with just a pen. I ended up moving past “smart luggage”. At a higher price point, the bags didn’t really seem to offer much. I ended up looking for carry-ons that were geared towards “business travel”.

I started off looking at a few Tumi carry-ons, namely the Alpha 2 International 4 wheeler, but ran into the issue of trying to justify spending $725 on luggage. Tumi luggage is damn nice, but also damn expensive. The carry-on had the kind of layout I was looking for but I ended up going with the Briggs & Riley’s Pilot. I’ve traveled around a few times with the carry-on now and couldn’t be happier with it.

Paired with packing cubes, the case makes traveling through airports such a breeze. The two front pockets are perfect for storing tech or business items, and make it very easy to slide a laptop in and out when going through security. Probably often overlooked, one of my favorite additions to the luggage was the small pocket on the top-front of the case. It gives quick storage to boarding passes, headphones or really anything you know you will need quickly but don’t want to shove awkwardly into your pockets. The inside of the case also doesn’t suffer from the telescoping handles being inside the case, so you get a nice flat surface to pack all your clothes into. Playing into the advantage of the handles being outside the case, there is a small pocket between them that lets you store your laptop’s charging cables as well.

The Pilot really feels like thought was put into it and I’ve loved it so far. It suffers from easily tipping forward if you’re bag is jam packed and lacks those neat “magic wheels”, but these few cons are easily forgettable when you’re running down a New York street in pouring rain worried about your laptop inside only to find the case is practically waterproof. It’s proven itself on the handful of trips I’ve had so far and I can’t wait to see how far it will go.