10 Smart Bags You Can Still Take on Airplanes
Worried your phone will run out of juice before you get to your destination? You won’t be if you have a carry-on with on-the-go charging.
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What are “smart” bags?
Smart bags come in many shapes and sizes—roller bags, weekender bags, suitcases, and totes—but they’re all equipped with a battery that you can plug your smart devices into for on-the-go charging. Depending on what you choose, your model might have Bluetooth, a WiFi hotspot, GPS tracking, and electronic locks. While some smart bags plug in to charge (like you would with an external battery), others have solar-charging capabilities.
In addition to providing peace of mind regarding battery life, charging your devices via smart luggage is often a safer option than doing so at places like airports, train stations, hotels, and even coffee shops. Check out this list of places you should never charge your phone.
Why airlines are banning certain smart bags
Smart bags can be a real travel game-changer, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that some airlines aren’t so gung-ho about them. “The problem is that smart bags are powered by lithium batteries, which can present a fire risk if they’re in the cargo hold of a plane during flight,” explains Sara Rathner, a travel expert for NerdWallet.
Because of this risk, some airlines have enacted bans on certain smart bags and won’t allow you to check one unless the battery is removable. “You can have lithium batteries in your carry-on bag, but if you end up needing to gate-check your suitcase, then your trip is going to turn into a nightmare,” Rathner says. “You’ll have to quickly find a replacement bag (while your flight is boarding), repack all your stuff, and leave your pricey smart bag behind.”
If you currently own a smart bag with non-removable batteries, allocate it for road trips. Then invest in an updated, airline-approved bag for any travel that requires flying. Not sure which smart bags get the thumbs-up from airlines? We’ve compiled a list of some top-rated carry-on options.
The Polycarbonate Carry-On Max by Arlo
In addition to having an airline-compliant removable lithium battery, Arlo’s Polycarbonate Carry-On Max features 10 percent more packing space than the brand’s standard carry-on and is made from a lightweight, impact-resistant material. It’s also zipperless and features an antimicrobial interior with two TSA-approved combo locks. Bonus: These smart bags come in four chic hues. For more tech-savvy travel items, check out these smart wallets for people who always seem to lose theirs.
TravelPro Platinum Elite 21″ Expandable Spinner
Rathner says she has two non-negotiables when it comes to luggage. The bag must be lightweight so she doesn’t have to stress about weight restrictions and associated fees, and it must have four wheels so it’s easy to maneuver. This TravelPro smart bag meets both requirements.
“I’ve been using TravelPro bags for a few years, and I love them. They’re durable and still look new, even though I’ve taken them all over the world,” she says. “Soft-sided expandable bags like the TravelPro Platinum Elite 21″ Expandable Spinner allow you to fit more clothing in, which is helpful because you sacrifice space to accommodate four wheels. This bag doesn’t come with batteries, though it provides a pocket for you to plug in the device of your choice.”
G-RO 22″ Carry-On
The G-Ro Carry-On may look like it’s straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it can be your travel reality. It’s equipped with a removable battery, waterproof bottom, and oversize tough-terrain wheels that glide easily over stairs, cobblestone, dirt, gravel, and rocks (for when you need to schlep across town to and from the airport). If you’re a frequent flier, you won’t want to miss this map with airport WiFi passwords all over the world.
TYLT Powerbag Charging Backpack
If you’re going on a short trip or simply like to travel light, the TYLT Powerbag Charging Backpack is an excellent option. It’s equipped with a removable rechargeable battery that holds four smartphone charges or one full tablet charge. Plus, this smart carry-on offers 1450 cubic inches of space and lots of pockets to help you stay organized. It also has a hidden trolley pocket in the back.
“If you prefer a hard-side bag, the Away Carry-On is a popular choice,” says Rathner. “It only weighs a pound more than the similarly sized TravelPro carry-on bag, and since it comes in many colors, you won’t struggle to identify which one is yours at the baggage claim. The built-in battery is also removable.” Here are some other things you should always pack in your carry-on.
The Bobby Tech Anti-Theft Backpack
You can forget having to charge your smart bag battery if you have the new Bobby Tech Anti-Theft Backpack from XD Design, which features a large solar patch on the front of the backpack. It’ll charge your phone in 3.5 hours on a sunny day, making it perfect for backpacking through the city or anywhere in the great outdoors. The fact that it has a no-access front, plus hidden zippers and pockets, reduces your chances of being a target for theft, as well.
Samsara Smart Luggage
You may feel like you’re James Bond with this sleek, chic, and smart Samsara bag. It’s constructed from lightweight aluminum alloy with a protective coating that comes in both black and silver. The battery is easily removed, and it also features a smart unit that connects to your mobile app, which notifies you if your bag is taken or opened. Don’t miss these other smart devices that are worth every penny.
The Marlon Carry-On
For smart luggage that fits squarely into the budget category (and the overhead bin), try the Marlon Carry-On. Like the G-Ro, it features two oversized wheels (though not quite as large) that give you more packing space, a removable battery, and laptop and tablet sleeves so you can safely store your smart devices.