How much does your suitcase weigh?

thI sure learned some interesting things about luggage while researching my latest piece for Retail Me Not. My favorite factoid was how light the bags are getting. Modern bags can weigh as little as 3.3 pounds – much easier on the arms, and also providing more wiggle room as regards an airline’s 50-pound luggage limit.

Randy MacKenzie of Edwards Luggage, a family-owned store since 1946, does monthly “how to pack” seminars in the family’s four San Francisco-area stores. Packed for two weeks of travel, today’s lightweight carry-ons can weigh in at 21 pounds. (Hint: That gives you room for 29 pounds’ worth of souvenirs before you start to pay extra.)

A few of her favorite manufacturers:

  • Rimowa: Lightweight and incredibly durable, this manufacturer offers colors that won’t embarrass the business traveler – “an absolutely gorgeous chocolate brown, a beautiful navy blue, a very dark purple.”
  • TUMI: Lightweight with “some really spectacular colors.”
  • IT Luggage: These semi-deconstructed, very basic bags weigh as little as 3 pounds and come “in all the colors of the rainbow.”
  • Swiss Army: These “youthful-looking” bags are less expensive but still wear well.

I love my own Delsey case, but if and when it ever gives up the ghost I’ll be looking for lighter luggage — from Delsey or someone else.

Just FYI: Large bags are still available if you’re heading for a cruise that requires formal wear or some other special garb. (Fun fact: Cruises exist for fans of nudism, Elvis, Shakespeare and “Star Trek.”) But a carefully packed medium-sized bag will generally do just as well, according to MacKenzie.

Already own a bag? Demonstrate your sense of fashion or fun with a colorful neoprene Coverlugg, which protects your bag from scratches while advertising your allegiance to style (leopard print, anyone?), nationality (fly that flag!), a sports team or even nostalgia (hipsters probably go mad for the ones that depict Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers).

The article also explains why you should be hitting the winter-gear sales online. Sure, you want to think about pretty spring stuff. But you should buy the cold-climate stuff now, while it’s on sale, in case the same severe weather patterns happen again. (Which it probably will.) Shoveling that snow or being stuck in your car overnight (hi, Atlanta!) is a little more comfortable if you’ve got a good coat and boots.

Incidentally, earlier-than-usual discounts are expected on spring items. The weather in the Lower 48 has been so crummy that shoppers have stayed away in shivering droves. Retailers want to move the merch so they’ll be dropping the prices, according to RMN merchandiser Eliza Bellock.

That coffee costs how much???

Ever notice that “convenience” often means “costly”? The more that’s done to your groceries, the more you’re going to pay.

Sometimes the difference is just that you’re getting the same product in smaller containers. My favorite example was the “toddler pack” of Cheerios – basically a disposable sippy cup filled with a single ounce of the O-shaped cereal – for $1.89.

Do the math. I’ll wait.

Or just read “Would you pay $30 a pound for Cheerios?” The article runs some of the numbers and offers tips on how just a teeny bit of prep work could save you big bucks. That is, unless you like the idea of paying up to $124 per pound for coffee.

A fairer share

Speaking of overpaying: Some nights out with friends end up with tension over the tab. The folks who want to split the bill evenly may be running roughshod over your budget. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Stop paying more than your share of the dinner bill” discusses apps that make payment fair, vs. stir-fry-and-iced-tea you paying an equal share of a five-way split when the other diners had appetizers, drinks, steak and dessert.

You can also do a partial split, in which specific (and ’spensive!) items can be assigned to the folks who ate and drank them but the rest of the bill gets split evenly. These programs will keep track of who owes what and will send e-reminders to those who haven’t ponied up for their shares of the big night out or the weekend ski trip.

And if you’re thinking of sharing an apartment, an app called Splitwise lets the roommate who chooses the larger bedroom with two closets and three windows know upfront that he’ll pay more than the dude with one closet, no windows and just enough space for his bed and dresser.

Best of all: Most of these apps are free.

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  1. Really appreciate the links to your other articles; love your work! I was amazed at the advances in luggage design. Something to look forward to when my basic black case can no longer be repaired with duct tape!

  2. My luggage is over 20 years old, and certainly isn’t anywhere near this space-age fancy lightweight stuff 🙂 It has served me very well over the years, and is ready for a decent burial – one handle has ripped off entirely, and the telescoping handle is stuck in the down position, making it impossible to use the rolling wheels.

    I’ve been half heartedly looking for a new suitcase – and honestly am shocked by the prices – so I’ve been putting off making a purchase. Maybe I can get one more trip out of my bag?

  3. Nice app ideas. I’ve never really understood the “sharing the bill” idea in restaurants. You would never go shopping with friends, all buy some shoes ranging between $10 and $200 and then split the bill, but it seems to have become the “norm” when eating out.

  4. Catseye

    I got a medium-sized rolling suitcase at SAVERS for around $10 a couple of years ago. I think SAVERS is also known as Value Village, depending on where you live. Anyway, check yard sales and thrift stores before buying your next suitcase.

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