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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best U.S. Traveler luggage

Getting back on the road or taking to the skies soon? It’s time for a luggage refresh. For those of us who want style and function at a good price, U.S. Traveler luggage is a great choice. U.S. Traveler luggage offers many of the same designs and accessory features as top-end luggage manufacturers.

It’s important to know what to look for when buying new luggage, regardless of whether it’s expensive or budget-priced. With a few key facts in hand, you’ll find that U.S. Traveler luggage offers durability and quality while staying on-trend with today’s most popular colors and styles.

a couple checking their travel information on a laptop
The TSA website and your airline’s website provide detailed information on which items to pack in your checked bag versus a carry-on — and what to avoid bringing at all.

How to buy the best U.S. Traveler luggage

Changes in modern luggage

In the twentieth century, when boat (and later air) travel transitioned from leisurely tours to fast-paced jet-setting, luggage began to change, too. Sturdy steamer trunks downsized to stiff-sided leather suitcases. Design no longer focused exclusively on standing up to rough handling. Fashionable colors and designs geared toward easy packing and access during travel gradually became mainstream and really took off at the start of the Jet Age in the 1950s.

Types of bags

Today, knowing what type of luggage works best for each type of journey is essential to choosing the right U.S. Traveler luggage or luggage set.

  • Under-seat bag: Fashionable and functional, the under-seat bag is a quick-access companion to a carry-on. U.S. Traveler under-seat bags are often sold as part of a set with matching colors and materials.
  • Carry-on bag: These are designed to meet most airlines’ carry-on dimensions (less than 22 inches high and 14 inches wide), with enough room to pack up to a week’s worth of clothing and toiletries. U.S. Traveler carry-on bags come in two- and four-wheeled spinner versions.
  • Checked bag: If you’re taking along a full wardrobe, U.S. Traveler’s 30-inch checked bags hold much more than a carry-on.
  • Two-piece set: Two-piece sets are designed for a single traveler to easily manage their luggage through the airport or train station.
  • Three-piece set: For one or two travelers, U.S. Traveler’s three-piece set features two check-sized bags and one carry-on to share.
  • Four-piece set: Designed for two to three travelers, four-piece sets include two check-sized bags and two carry-on bags.

Popular U.S. Traveler luggage models

Hard-sided suitcase: U.S. Traveler’s version of the baggage compartment-friendly suitcase first introduced by Away in 2016 helps prevent contents from being crushed. It’s available in more colors than its nylon counterparts and is made of lightweight but tough polycarbonate.

Soft-sided suitcase: The flexible roller bag isn’t going away soon; it’s lightweight and compressible, which is important when overhead space is tight. Models with a zipper expansion can add several cubic inches of packing space.

Under-seat bag: In a time when baggage fees mean the overhead compartments are packed full, the small but mighty under-seat bag is a godsend. It holds all the essentials needed during a flight, like water, snacks, book, smartphone, and tablet without taking up valuable foot space.

Practical aspects of luggage to consider

Expandability: Being able to fit a few souvenirs into your checked or carry-on bag on the way home is convenient. A bag with a zippered expansion can add several cubic inches of storage space.

Flexibility: A three- or four-piece luggage set allows you to choose the best suitcase size for the trip you’re planning.

Portability: Luggage must be lightweight and easy to tote around or roll through the airport or train station. Wheels should roll smoothly.

Security: For checked bags, a TSA-approved lock is essential. A bag with a built-in lock prevents any last-minute rushing around the hotel room searching for your portable lock.

Convenience: Carry-on bags with extra features like an exterior water bottle pocket, a built-in USB charging port, or a padded laptop sleeve make long flights and rushed airport transfers much more bearable.

Durability: Luggage must stand up to last-minute sprints to the gate and time-crunched baggage handlers. Look for sturdy zippers, strong handles, and reinforced wheels.

Choose soft-sided or hard-sided bags. Soft-sided luggage fits better into overhead compartments. Hard-sided suitcases are chic and streamlined, and they’re more likely to protect contents from being crushed.

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What features does U.S. Traveler luggage have?

Common luggage components

  • Zipper expansion: Standard on most soft-sided luggage, this feature adds a few more cubic inches of packing space, and it can be zipped tightly once the bag is closed to compress the contents further.
  • Interior pockets: Look for mesh pockets that allow for breathability in the suitcase interior.
  • Exterior pockets: Exterior pockets are a must-have for carry-ons, providing a place to store items you need to quickly access, like a travel toiletry kit, books, or a sweater.
  • Padded laptop sleeve: You’ll find laptop sleeves in some higher-end carry-on bags. The sleeve protects against bumps and drops, but not against overpacked, tightly compressed bags.
  • Water bottle holder: A water bottle holder takes shape as a small mesh net or zippered pocket on the side of a carry-on bag.
  • Expander strap: This is a short nylon strap that you can use to attach an under-seat bag or briefcase to the top of a carry-on roller bag.
luggage
DID YOU KNOW?
The carry-on roller bag was developed by 747 pilot Robert Plath for airline crews in the late 1980s. When passengers saw them in use, demand exploded.
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Accessorizing your luggage

Luggage tags

Find your bags every time with a weather- and bump-resistant luggage tag. Choose a brightly colored tag for quick ID on the airport carousel, a clear case to hold cruise lines’ luggage chits so your suitcases get to the stateroom quickly, or a scannable smart tag to locate a lost bag.

Packing cubes

Pack more clothing fast and neatly with two or more compressible packing cubes. You can sort clothing by type or by outfit (swimwear versus evening wear), unpack, and repack swiftly. Best of all, you’ll avoid straining the suitcase zipper, because it’s hard to overpack using compression cubes.

Laundry bag

Tuck smelly clothes into a suitcase-friendly, nylon laundry bag to keep clean clothes separate and fresh. You can easily haul clothes to the laundry without embarrassment.

Shoe bag

Runners have long known the secret of the shoe bag — it keeps dirty, sweaty trainers separate from clothing during travel. Tuck extra shoes into a single bag, or use separate bags for each pair to pack more efficiently.

Luggage locks

Even if your U.S. Traveler luggage has a built-in lock, carrying extra TSA-approved locks is recommended in case your carry-on is unexpectedly checked at the gate. A cable loop lock can be used to secure your carry-on bag to a sturdy bench or post when you’re napping at the airport gate, so no one walks off with your stuff.

How much does U.S. Traveler luggage cost?

Inexpensive

U.S. Traveler’s entry-level luggage offerings include single carry-on spinners and two-piece luggage sets for $59 to $79.

Mid-range

For $81 to $149, travelers can find a greater range of two- and three-piece U.S. Traveler luggage sets. A hardside roller is available at this price point, too.

Expensive

Look for three- and four-piece luggage sets with extras like packing cubes and expansion straps in the $151 to $239 range.

Decide between two- and four-wheeled luggage. Spinners are easier to roll through the airport and take less abuse when being loaded aboard an aircraft, but two-wheeled rollers handle rough pavement better.

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Tips

  • Spot-clean luggage. To keep U.S. Traveler’s rugged nylon soft-sided bags in their best condition, dab away spots with a damp cloth and mild soap.
  • Use a luggage strap. Wrap a luggage strap tightly around checked bags to ensure they don’t fall open if the zipper fails.
  • Avoid rough surfaces. Bumpy tarmacs, potholes, and heavy carpet can compromise the performance of spinner wheels and even damage them.
  • Mind the gap. Bouncing a roller bag or spinner bag over platform gaps, down steps, or tossing or dropping it can damage the wheels over time.
  • Don’t overpack. Luggage zippers are built to withstand compression and expansion stress, but they can fail. Use compression cubes or pack fewer clothes.
  • Measure carry-ons before a trip. Maximum carry-on dimensions are slightly different from airline to airline. Make sure your bag will be accepted.
  • Replace broken wheels. Baggage handlers love spinners because they can easily roll them into the cargo hold or onto the baggage cart. A broken wheel means the bag will be thrown and is much more likely to be further damaged.
a woman carrying a luggage at the airport
Adding an extra luggage tag to the handle is fine, but if it gets torn off, that tiny hand-written card stuck in the built-in, sewn-on compartment may be the only way to locate your bag.

FAQ

Q. Are there disadvantages to hard-sided luggage?

A. Hard-sided luggage has a few disadvantages. Convenience-wise, these hard-shelled suitcases don’t have exterior pockets, so you’ll have to carry your extra sweater, water bottle, and snacks in a backpack or under-seat bag. Hard-sided cases can crack if they’re crushed, especially if they’re made of cheap ABS plastic, so look for U.S. Traveler’s polycarbonate luggage instead. These bags don’t expand to fit more clothes, and they can’t be compressed down, making them less desirable as carry-ons.

Q. Can I repair U.S. Traveler luggage if it’s damaged?

A. U.S. Traveler’s parent company, Traveler’s Choice, sells replacement parts for many of its luggage models. It also publishes instructions for fixing common luggage problems.

Q. Is U.S. Traveler luggage a good choice for international travel?

A. U.S. Traveler luggage is perfect for airline, cruise, train, bus, or car travel. It’s designed to stand up to everyday travel as well as being tossed around by baggage handlers, stuffed into overhead bins, and even sat on when there are no seats left in the waiting area.

Q. Does U.S. Traveler luggage have a warranty?

A. Yes. However, read the warranty thoroughly to understand what Traveler’s Choice covers. Like most luggage warranties, it has a laundry list of things it doesn’t cover, such as damage by the airline or damage by TSA, both of which must be addressed with those entities instead. Processing a warranty claim can take 21 to 30 days, and possibly more. Plus, you’ll need to pay the shipping fee for the replacement item, which can range between $9 and $49, depending on the size of the replacement bag.

 

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