It seems as though everything’s getting the “smart” treatment these days, from phones and TVs to robot vacuums. And while some of these upgrades are more novel than others (do we really need a smart toaster?), others are definite game changers — smart luggage included.
Whether you tend to travel for work or pleasure, these genius accessories pull double duty to haul your stuff from point A to point B while making the whole process of travelling that much easier thanks to their intelligent functions.
What is a smart suitcase?
A smart suitcase is any piece of luggage that is embedded with some sort of electronic or otherwise high-tech feature that makes your life and your travels just a little bit easier. Whether that’s some juice to charge your phone mid-flight or tracking technology to keep tabs on your travelling pants (and everything else you packed), they help you enjoy the journey on your way to your destination.
What makes a piece of luggage “smart?”
When most people think of smart luggage, they think of smart suitcases, smart bags, or backpacks that have been equipped with built-in charging capabilities. Many of them come with their own chargers within — typically powered by a lithium-ion battery — that can be easily accessed from outside the smart bag to charge devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
However, the wide scope of smart features on luggage does not stop there. Some smart luggage can weigh itself — usually via an integrated digital scale in the top carry handle — so you don’t have to worry about overweight fees on your checked bag.
Other forms of smart luggage come with built-in luggage trackers so you can see where your luggage is via an integrated smartphone app. This genius idea to build a smart luggage tracker right into your bag can bring incredible peace of mind in case of lost luggage — one of the most dreaded travel scenarios. You could always just pop something like a Tile Mate, smart luggage tag, or other GPS or Bluetooth tracker into any piece of luggage and essentially get the same benefit, by the way.
Some smart luggage can even tell you when the smart suitcase has been opened when it’s out of your sight.
Which “smart” perks should you prioritise?
The perks of smart luggage reach far and wide, but the best ones for you depend on how often you travel, why you travel, how long your trips usually are, and how much you typically pack. For example, if you tend to jet off on long flights or need to work while in the air, a carry-on with charging capabilities will be crucial to keep you connected and productive. On the flip side, if you tend to go on long trips and often overpack, a smart suitcase that can weigh itself will ease your mind and help you avoid overweight checked bag fees before you even step foot out the door.
What should you look for in a good smart suitcase?
A really great smart suitcase will come with a built-in power source to help you charge your devices on the go. However, keep in mind that some “smart” luggage simply has a USB port and does not include a power bank. Instead, it will often have a pouch for you to place your own power bank inside the luggage — to keep it protected — and a port that allows you to plug in and charge your device from the outside, without having to open up your luggage. While still convenient, a smart suitcase with a USB port and no provided power bank isn’t technically all that “smart.” If you already have a power bank you love, though, this type of smart suitcase or smart bag might be exactly what you’re seeking. Just be sure that your power bank isn’t too big to fit in the designated pocket.
Are smart suitcases allowed on planes?
Smart luggage is definitely allowed on planes, though there are some things to keep in mind. Because the battery pack inside smart luggage is usually a lithium-ion battery, it must stay in the main cabin of the plane — not in the cargo hold with the checked baggage — for safety reasons. For this reason, you’re more likely to find built-in power banks on smaller pieces of luggage as they’re intended to be carry-ons.
So what do you do if there’s a lithium-ion battery in your checked bag? Well, any modern piece of smart luggage should now make sure that it has removable lithium-ion batteries, so you can just pop it out before checking the bag at the gate, and then you can keep it with you as you fly. However, some smart luggage is now powered by AAA batteries instead of removable lithium-ion batteries to avoid this extra step, so keep an eye out for that option if you want to ensure your larger bags can be checked without issue.
Is smart luggage worth the money?
Whether or not smart luggage is worth its sometimes high cost all comes down to the value you put on the convenience it brings you. The ability to stay connected, in particular, is a key perk that most people would place at the top of their list while travelling. Not only does it keep boredom at bay throughout the journey, but it can help you stay productive on a work trip and keep you in touch at your destination, whether that’s for a ride to your hotel or to meet up with friends.
But when your phone battery is plummeting and there’s no outlet or charging port nearby, that’s when the dreaded stress sweat sets in — and the ability to relieve that sense of panic is where it really comes in handy to have a smart charger built into your luggage.
That said, not every item you own needs to be “smart” per se, but we believe that most smart luggage serves enough of a purpose that it’s probably worthy of all the hype. The truth is, smart luggage has the ability to reduce many of the biggest pain points when it comes to travel stressors. Whether it’s charging your phone, weighing its own contents, or setting off an anti-theft alert, a piece of smart luggage could do you well in many cases.
What is the best smart luggage?
After conducting some serious online research, we’ve rounded up some of the internet’s favourite smart luggage options to help you make a decision on your next trusty travel companion. The “smart luggage” trend is growing ever more popular with travellers, so now’s the time to hop on the bandwagon with one of the best smart luggage finds right here.
This is the best smart luggage in 2022.