Smart Luggage for the Connected Age promised the title in last week’s New York Times. It featured a company that’s releasing “smart luggage” packed with up-to-the-minute features including “a Bluetooth-enabled lock, GPS tracking, and a USB port for recharging a device. It has a built-in scale, too.”
Samsonite is also getting into the smart luggage act with their “new line of GeoTrakR suitcases, containing a cellular-enabled baggage-tracking system… and Andiamo will introduce a new carry-on with a Wi-Fi hotspot, battery charger and other features.”
Before we proceed, let me make it clear that I’m a tech geek. I love gizmos and technology. I lust for every new device Apple releases, I change apps as often as you change underwear, and I’ve figured out how to digitize all of my papers, bills, accounts, photos, sketches, and every other thing I can scan and upload to the cloud. My music hard drive has three terabytes of storage and holds over 114 days of continuous songs.
But even though I’m an early adapter and totally obsessed travel-light voyager, I will never buy one of these modern day steamer trunks. Talk about putting the “lug” back in “luggage,” not one review mentions how much smart luggage weighs, but I’ll bet it’s plenty. And that flies in the face of my belief that the key to travelling happy is travelling light.
Thanks to my never-ending travel schedule speaking at conferences around the world, I’ve experimented with enough bags and packing schemes to sink the Titanic. And I’ve figured out the exact solution and the exact bag to make travelling as easy as possible. More on that in a minute…
I’ve written on the subject of travelling light a few times before (I told you I was obsessed). You can read those posts HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE. And you can read my Fortune Magazine profile on travel as a competitive sport HERE. If you do you’ll see that learning about travelling light is an ongoing evolution – some of the tools and techniques I recommended early on have been discarded for new ideas. Live and learn, I say.
But before we get to my latest solution, here are five rules that will make your travel as pleasant and convenient as possible:
Travel light. Not having to lug your belongings everywhere is the best thing you can do to enjoy your time away.
There are only two kinds of luggage: Carry-on and lost. If you can’t carry your belongings and can’t lift them into the plane’s overhead compartment, don’t take them.
Don’t change your look with different outfits; change your look with different accessories. For women that means neutral-colored clothes with bright scarves, belts, and wraps. For men it means navy, gray or khaki with different ties and pocket squares. Clothes are heavy. Accessories are not.
You can’t lose what you don’t let go of. Travel light enough and you can keep your things with you when they’re not secured. If you insist on having GPS connectivity for your bags, a little TILE tag can care of that without any added weight.
Eliminate all superfluous cables and chargers. If you’re taking your laptop you don’t need other chargers, just plug your phone, camera, and running watch into the computer’s USB ports. If you’re staying at a business hotel, you can charge your devices in the USB port behind the large screen TV in your room. Just don’t forget them when you check out.
If you’re only going to bring a briefcase or pocketbook and one bag, you better bring the right one. After years of experimentation, here’s the best bag you can buy for trouble-free travel – a 22” Tumi duffel. It’s got a cavernous central storage area for shoes, folded suits, and all your clothes, a zippered pocket on the inside for items you want to keep as secure as possible, two pockets at either end – I use one for technology and the other for accessories – and a large zip pocket on the front for tickets, keys, passport, phone, etc. It’s easy to pack, easy to live out of if you organize with packing cubes, easy to carry, and easy to stuff overhead. And no wheels or frames adding weight or taking up valuable space.
The bad news is that Tumi doesn’t make them any more but you can usually find them on EBay for less than $100 in nylon and around $200 in leather (but beware, leather’s heavier than nylon). They come and go but there were a few listed when I wrote this article.