Welcome to Someone Buy This!, a monthly shopping column featuring the fun, the frivolous, and the practical from a very discerning shopper.
While planning a three week, multi-city vacation in Europe (it’s a brag, sorry) my boyfriend Josh and I realized we’d have to check our bags. Inspired by the carry-on super packers of TikTok, I thought I’d be able to pack everything I needed in a carry-on—the same bag I stuff to death for long weekends. Who was I kidding? Josh was slower to come around to the checked bag idea, but as we started looking at flights from city to city we noticed that many of them included checked bags but charged for carry-ons! That, and the fact that the size of his closet rivals my own, set him over the edge. His massive camping backpack and my duffel bag would have to sit this one out.
Finding the right suitcase
As I started to research suitcases, I thought about what was so off-putting to me about checked bags. Sure, there’s the inconvenience of having to stand in line to check it, the looming threat of an overweight bag, the possibility of it getting lost in a transfer. But what I hate most about suitcases is their design: two separate halves that never seem to fit much.
My requirements for the perfect suitcase are simple enough: I want a flat top opening (bags that have one deep cavity instead of two shallower ones), a bright color that would be easy to spot at baggage claim, and the ability to expand the suitcase if necessary. I was surprised to find there were not a ton of flat top suitcases out there. I stumbled upon Lojel, whose Cubo line checked all these boxes, so we got a pair.
I chose the Cubo Fit and Josh got a Cubo Medium, both in yellow (but more on that later). A month before our trip, we put the suitcases to the test during our move and I was very impressed with how much they could hold, and how easy they were to handle on uneven New York City sidewalks. The real test, however, was yet to come. We were delighted to find that both suitcases would glide easily over stone paved sidewalks and uneven cobblestone in Europe.
Because I know you’re dying to know what color we chose: We both got yellow. The color conversation started out as a joke but quickly took a turn. The yellow is actually very cool and looks even better in person. It would turn out to be a lifesaver in Barcelona, where a long customs line and my poor planning almost caused me to miss my next flight. I had to get my bag from baggage claim and recheck it for my next flight. After what felt like a lifetime in customs, I sprinted to get my bag and was able to easily spot it among the sea of black and pastel suitcases on the conveyor belt. If I had needed to stop to search for it, I would have missed the check-in deadline for my flight.
The least stressful packing experience I’ve ever had
Both suitcases have spacious netted compartments on the inside of the lid, plus two zippered pockets in the lining, perfect for sandals. The lid has a strap to help keep it upright when packing/unpacking. This may seem like a minor detail, but the way this suitcase opens makes it take up way less space than a typical bag in a cramped rental or hotel room.
Josh and I each got a set of packing cubes—again, inspired by Tiktok—and, combined with the suitcase’s depth, they really made a difference. I specifically looked for a set with some sort of a transparent top so that it would be easy to see what’s in there. We were making several stops and I wanted to be able to quickly find whatever I was looking for. I have to say I was very skeptical when I unboxed the packing cubes. They seemed so shallow and small next to the pile of clothes on my bed as I packed, how were they supposed to hold three weeks of outfits? But I was shocked by how much I could fit in those cubes. I even added stuff in as I was packing because I had room! Packing and unpacking was a breeze during all four stops on our trip. The bag’s deep cavity allowed me to just stack the packing cubes without giving too much thought to their arrangement. I was also able to save space and pack my shoes vertically.
I packed my toiletries in this incredible hanging cosmetic case from Beis that holds so much stuff. It’s super easy to pack and unpack and comes with a clear “to go” pouch which I throw in my purse.
The perfect “personal item”
I usually take a big purse or tote bag but always find myself disappointed with my organization options. I searched high and low for the perfect bag that would meet airline “personal item” requirements and landed on Dagne Dover’s Pacific Tote, which I have been completely obsessed with even before the trip. This bag has a ton of interior compartments, including a laptop sleeve and some deep pockets. It’s also got four large exterior pockets that can hold whatever you need to quickly reach. Although I was able to cram this tote under the seat, my only edit for this bag is that I wish it had some sort of button or zipper closure at the top in case you need to lay it on its side on the plane.
Some “travel-sized” things that really made a difference
This lighted mirror is immensely helpful in situations where multiple people are trying to share a bathroom. Once I’m done showering, I can vacate the bathroom for the next person and post up somewhere with this mirror to do my skincare and makeup routine. Next, this tiny dual voltage hair dryer seriously blew me away. It’s got diffuser and concentrator attachments, both of which fit into the same little case as the dryer. It’s not as powerful as my full-time hair dryer but works great for its size. This last one may be a bit extra of me, but I brought some Dedcool room & linen spray in a travel spray bottle and used it to freshen up bedding, my clothes and to boost the overall vibe in the various places we stayed. This is part of my growing collection of Dedcool’s “Milk” scent.
What if our bags get lost?
Facing a total of seven flights in three weeks, I was worried about our bags getting lost or missing a transfer. We got some AirTags and hoped for the best. Thankfully, neither of our bags were lost, but the Airtags provided some serious piece of mind throughout our trip. Because they rely on the presence of other Apple devices, AirTags may take a bit to show an updated location, but they’re fast enough to give you time to alert a flight attendant if your bag is indeed not where it’s supposed to be.
Josh, who had previously said there was something “very dorky” about rolling a suitcase around, is a changed man. “I feel completely differently,” he texted me from Morocco (he left before me). “The alternative of throwing a massive backpack on seems absurd and, frankly, childish now.” As for me, not having to lug a mega-stuffed carry-on bag onto each flight was honestly freeing. We’re checked bag girlies now.
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