Traveling can be either a joy or a pain, and the luggage you use to tote your stuff is one of the biggest factors in determining which. While manufacturers have made advancements in materials and design, suitcases really haven’t changed much since their modern inception in the early 1900s. But luggage is finally getting smarter, and the options for connected suitcases and related gadgets — from startups like Away, to market leaders such as Samsonite and Delsey — are beginning to take hold.
From built-in scales to GPS tracking and mobile apps, these innovations won’t make luggage any lighter, but they could make the traveling experience less harrowing. Below are some of our current favorites.
Note: Airlines and the FAA have new guidelines on smart luggage with batteries. Batteries must be removable and are prohibited from checked luggage.
Incase ProConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Roller ($400)
For its new smart luggage series, Incase focused less on smart and more on power — 20,100mAh of battery power, to be exact. With a USB-C and two USB-A ports, you can recharge a MacBook Pro, or your mobile devices for several days. The bag, made of polycarbonate and strong polyester, meets current TSA guidelines on smart luggage, as the battery is easily removable. The 4 Wheel Hubless roller is a stylish carry-on with a minimalist design, and plenty of room for a weekend jaunt or, if you pack wisely, a full week. With the Incase Smart companion app, you can even track battery life and the last known location of your roller. It’s pricey, but besides good looks, you are paying for high-quality construction.
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Away Carry-On ($225+)
You’ve probably seen ads for Away’s hard-shell smart luggage in your Instagram feed or subway ads, but you’ll also see quite a few of the bags on the streets. They have become a hit with consumers, thanks in part to nine different color options and celebrity fans. But popularity aside, the Away luggage is well-made, and comes with a lifetime warranty. We also like that you can try it out for 100 days before committing — a great way to experience whether you truly need a smart bag. Available in five configurations, including one just for kids and two carry-on options, the bags are stylish yet simple, regardless of which size you opt for. And, to comply with regulations, Away has created an ingenious method for easily ejecting and removing the battery.
Néit Collapsible Suitcase ($229+)
Not every case has to have a bunch of built-in electronic tech to be smart — or rather, clever. People aren’t in a perpetual state of travel, and the suitcase has to go somewhere when not stuffed with necessities. Néit’s suitcase folds flat for easy storage when it’s empty. The polycarbonate/aircraft-grade aluminum shell folds down to three inches and even has a carabiner clip so it can hang in a closet. The 360-degree removable wheels are yet another easy-stash feature, so the Néit can fit where other suitcases are a “no-go.” There are both checked and carry-on options, though, the most dramatic change in size is the checked bag — it shrinks to 3-inches flat. And of course, it sports a built-in GPS tracker to help you keep track of your belongings via a companion app.
Want to add some security to a bag you already love? That question inspired Airbolt, a Bluetooth-enabled lock that works with almost any bag. Controlled via a smartphone, AirBolt offers a slew of security features, like a proximity alarm that can ring when your luggage gets too far away. Like some other location devices, AirBolt relies on a crowdsourced GPS network, pinging bags based on the last location within range. However, the success of such systems depends on how many people are using it — the more users, the more effective the system.
Why carry your luggage when your luggage can carry you? It can when the luggage is Modobag, a suitcase that doubles as a motor scooter with a sweet set of features. It has a built-in seat and footrests for travelers who would rather sit as they make their way through the airport or the long lines at the Panda Express. The scooter maxes out at a speed of 8 miles per hour, and can go about 6 miles on a single charge. Steer with the handle, or pull it up and pull the suitcase on its wheels like a normal bag. Whether ridden or dragged, it has two USB ports to keep devices charged, and an optional GPS system to keep track of the Modobag itself. The only problem with the Modobag is the weight — it weighs a hefty 10 pounds when empty. At least it has brakes to avoid ramming fellow commuters.
Arlo Skye ($450+)
Like the smart luggage from Away, Arlo Skye includes a removable charger. The 10,050 mAh charger has two USB ports, one for your phone and one for your computer. Unlike most luggage, however, the Arlo Skye doesn’t have zippers. Instead, the polycarbonate shell relies on two TSA-approved combination locks to keep your contents safe and sound. Created by a set of Tumi and Louis Vuitton alums, the Arlo Skye is not only smart but also very stylish. The five attractive color offerings, durable aluminum frame, and interior compression system are just an added plus.
Marlon Carry-On ($159)
The apt-titled Marlon Carry-On features USB charging, so you’ll never have to fight over an airport outlet again. Said charger is also removable, meaning it’s TSA-approved and allowed on all airlines. The roller features padded sleeves to help protect your wears, too, not to mention quick access to both your laptop and tablet and two all-terrain wheels that make navigating the airport less of a slog. The Carry-On can even expand by 35 percent, so you can fit everything you want when it comes time to pack for the road.