I never thought that much about luggage until my very first business trip. Growing up, I used whatever suitcases my mom bought at TJ Maxx. She must have chosen well, because when I graduated college, I was still using the same carry-on she had bought for me when I was 16 years old.
When I was told I had to travel for business, I realized that, although my old carry-on was still moderately functional (that may be a generous descriptor), the peeling edges, chipped paint on the zipper, and patched rips on the side were not a good look. After trolling around for an appropriate Gilt sale for a week or so, I finally snagged a small royal blue hard-side spinner carry-on for $75, the brand of which shall remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent shortly.
As I began to travel more frequently for my job, I started to develop specific strategies to travel intelligently. Because I was a real-ass business traveler, I did not travel with my Pillow Pet anymore, but I still liked that my blue bag was pretty cute and looked slightly like R2-D2. I packed effectively, and I invested in products that helped me organize my stuff with minimal stress for my already-too-stressful two night trips across the country and back. My suitcase, however cheap it had been originally, did all right for about 10 months. It wasn't the perfect bag (I always had trouble getting it to close, and there was no internal organization method built into its interior), but it was doing just fine. That is, until a fateful Thanksgiving trip back home one year.
I was walking through the Atlanta airport on my layover when suddenly, without warning, the back wheel broke completely off my trusty blue carry-on. I was immediately flustered and rushed to sit down at a nearby boarding gate to asses the damage. The wheel turned out to be totally detached from my bag, so there was just absolutely no way that I was going to get it to work again in the 15 minutes I had before I needed to board my next flight. I'm not going to lie to you: I started crying. Luckily, Google informed me there were two stores in the airport that carried luggage: Tumi and Brookstone.
Don't get me wrong, Tumi is an amazing luggage brand, but at that point in my career I didn't (and absolutely still do not) have the cash flow to drop $700 on a suitcase. I ran into Brookstone, verklempt, and asked, without shame, for "the cheapest carry-on they had." Their response was that I should go with the Brookstone Dash 4-Wheeled Expandable Carry-On for $99, so I grabbed a purple one, repacked in a frenzy, and quickly ran to board my plane.
Over the next few years, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my harried Brookstone purchase was actually an awesome game-time decision. That little bag served me very well, always accommodating whatever I needed to stuff into it, and never once breaking suddenly while I was traveling. I've recently upgraded to a new bag (more on that below), but in the process of deciding to upgrade I did a lot of research on the best types of suitcases for all situations. What can I say? I tend to get very into researching bags.