Earlier this year, K and I were doing some traveling when my carry-on suitcase, a veteran of many business trips, died. Initially, I wanted to replace it with this gorgeous galaxy-print Tumi bag. But when that suitcase arrived, it suffered from one critical flaw, it couldn’t hold my hot rollers when full. Blast!
Then, I noticed that my blogger-friend and consummate road warrior, Hitha, uses the Away suitcase. Of course, I had seen the Away suitcase on dozens of blogs, but they were all sponsored posts. But if Hitha, a woman whose recently published book is called How to Pack, used the Away suitcase for her travel, I was willing to give it a shot.
After much thought, I decided to order The Bigger Carry-On ($245) and the Medium Bag ($275). They arrived in these cotton dust bags, which I thought was a nice touch. I chose these two cases because I needed a carry-on bag for my regular travel, and I wanted a larger bag for longer trips.
The Bigger Carry-On comes in at 22.7 x 14.7 x 9.6. So it is too large for international travel, but small enough for the majority of domestic carriers. The Medium Bag is a good size if you check luggage. And if you buy both, you pay $475 for the set, instead of $520. So if you’re intending to buy more than one, buy them at the same time.
The exterior is made of an “impenetrable shell” that “bends but doesn’t break.” I also like that both suitcases are fairly light, about the same weight as my cloth Samsonite.
The Away suitcases are divided into two compartments: a clothing compartment and a zippered shoe/toiletry compartment. There’s also a flat separator that functions as a place to store dirty clothes.
This is my first experience with a separated suitcase, and I absolutely love it. I adore being able to keep the shoes in a separate compartment. No more smashed purses, or dirt getting on my clean clothes, and no more smashed shoes. Awesome.
The Bigger Carry-On also contains a lithium-ion battery that feeds to an external USB port so you can charge your phone. This feature gets a lot of press, but it’s not one I will likely ever use. I’m not a heavy phone user, and I don’t want to have to remove the battery to go through TSA and reinstall it when I’m through security. But if this is a feature you’re into, other bloggers have said they really like it.
My only complaint about the suitcases is how easily they scuff. I expect some wear-and-tear to baggage when I travel, but I leaned the suitcase top against a wall and the entire edge was covered in paint. I bumped into the bag and knocked it down, and it scratched on the tile floor. So while the exterior may be durable when it comes to punctures, it bruises like a peach. To clean it up, I grabbed some Goo-Gone and that seemed to help, but it was an unexpected and unwanted level of damage.
Bottom Line: I love these suitcases. I love that I got two Away cases for the price of one Tumi. I found them to be incredibly functional and useful. They held quite a bit more than I thought they would. And several times over an 8-day trip that included two hotel changes, I was very happy that I bought them. So if you’re in the market for suitcases, I would definitely give the Away Suitcases a look.
I have had the bigger carry on for about a year, with twice monthly 4-5 day trips both domestically and internationally. It has fit just fine in the overhead compartments on bigger planes in Europe. On smaller planes, just like on CRJ’s in the states, I’ve had to gate check- no big deal.
I’ve received compliments from coworkers who had previously sworn by the tumi alpha series, which seems to have gone downhill since Tumi was bought by Samsonite. Mine has also scuffed, but that’s to be expected with the volume of travel I do.
The frame of the inside compartment snapped on me recently, and the Away team immediately replaced that component. I can’t recommend their bags or their customer service enough.
I love this idea for a post! I always wonder about the products I see on blogs (and the targeted ads I see on facebook– like for Rothy’s) and want to know if they’re actually that great or if they’re only on the blog because of a sponsorship. I’d love to see more posts like this one.
I have the small carry on, and I LOVE it. I have a “never check a bag” policy (really- went to Paris for a week in the Fall and still did not check a bag), and Away makes it easy. Since I’m never checking, I keep the battery in mine, and the charger has definitely come in handy during flight delays when you can’t find a coveted seat near a charger in the terminal.
I had to return mine– the scuffing was outrageous and the handle felt extremely flimsy (to the point that it seemed as it it would snap off at any moment).
I was okay with the handle, but I’m with you on the scuffing.
Though I highly considered buying an Away suitcase, I ended up going with the Timbuk2 Copilot and absolutely love it! Its a bit more “sporty” looking, but the function and lifetime warranty cannot be beat!
My husband and I recently bought the away domestic carry on and I love it. I took it for a trip to D.C. and crammed a lot of heavy stuff (shoes, curling iron, make up) and I easily swung it up into the overhead bin due to the lightweight frame. Planning on buying the checked bag size for when I take longer trips need to haul files (life of a lawyer).
Is the weight of the bag not a concern for you? I am a bit surprised at the weight of both the Away bags and the Timbuk2, which seem pretty heavy to me. Here in Europe, many of the airlines have weight limits for carry-ons that are as low as 8kg (17lbs 10 oz), and 7-8lbs is a big chunk out of that.
Perhaps, it’s because in the US, you’re typically looking at 50lbs weight limit for a checked bag, and I’ve never had anyone weigh a carry on. But no, I thought the weight was pretty good, but that’s just based on US perspective.
I have both the smaller Away carry on and the bigger carry on (bought on Hitha’s recommendation!) and have never had to remove the battery to go through TSA (I’ve flown with mine on 10ish trips this year so far, so through TSA 20x). I have precheck but I’m not sure that it makes a difference. They do scuff easily, but I love how easy it is to pack in the separate compartments and I love that it has an included laundry bag!
For the battery, it’s actually the other way around. If you check your carry-on, you’ll have to remove it. If you bring it with you as carry-on luggage, you can leave it in.
I know you have to remove it to check it. I tried to go through TSA with it, and the officer screening my bag made me remove it. Which was awesome, loved taking my clothes out of the suitcase in the middle of an airport. Luckily he was a little bit cool about it and let me go back out and come in instead of making me do it in line.
Do you have pre-check? I imagine it’s similar rules to a laptop where pre-check doesn’t have to take it out? Or the one officer was misinformed, or more likely, couldn’t figure out what it was as it was going through the machine.
No, no pre-check. I was waiting for appointment for Global Entry, but I’m just going to have to go get it separately.
Hmmm. That seems like a pretty big inconvenience/large oversight on Away’s part, and tbh a maybe a deal breaker for me. Any clue if there’s a battery-free version in the works? I don’t really need the Insta-cool bells and whistles, I just want something that looks good, works well, and comes with a decent customer service team :/ (an increasingly elusive trifecta)
Can you please share the brand of the cognac flats you had in the suitcase in the pic? Thanks!
They are coach. You can find them on eBay.