Is smart luggage worth it?

Travel Tales, Travel Tips, Travel Tools 5

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For people who travel frequently, a good carry-on luggage is a must! Until recently, I used to have a Samsonite 21″ 4 wheel roller. I loved it because it had a hard polycarbonate shell and included an expandable zipper to give me extra packing space if needed. Unfortunately, my rental car was broken into one night in Miami and the thieves took my beloved carry-on. When looking to buy a new bag, I considered replacing it with smart luggage. Here’s why that idea wasn’t so smart.

 

What is Smart Luggage?

Over the past couple years, there have been several Kickstarter and GoFundMe campaigns from entrepreneurs who have taken their life experiences of traveling and turned that into a business. Most smart luggage is designed for carry-on only while some companies have expressed creating bigger sizes in future generations for people who need more room.

Typically, a smart luggage carry-on will include sleek minimalist modern design. And, depending on the company, it will have built-in features which help the everyday traveler on the go.

 

Bluesmart Luggage

Bluesmart Luggage smart luggage

Bluesmart Luggage

One of the first smart luggage companies that received attention after their Kickstarter went viral was Bluesmart. The Bluesmart One carry-on looked liked an ideal candidate to replace my next carry-on. After doing some research, I decided to purchase it and see what all the rave was about!

Some of the key features which persuaded me to purchase it was you could remote lock your luggage through their app, it had a built-in GPS to locate your bag if it ever got lost, a built in scale to weigh your bag, and a 10,400 mAh power bank to charge your phone on the go.

With all these features built-in the carry-on luggage, it sounded impressive, right? Well, think again!

 

Bluesmart One Review

I received my new Bluesmart One carry-on and I was excited! Like a little kid on Christmas day, I unwrapped the box and opened it up. Unfortunately, my first impression of it was very disappointing because the overall construction felt very cheap considering I paid close to $400 for it!

I downloaded the app and started to charging the internal power bank located inside. I soon realized the GPS feature is only enabled by Bluetooth via the Bluesmart app but I couldn’t get a good signal due to the app being very glitchy. The weigh-in scale feature was also in the app and it seemed not to work correctly regardless how many times I tried to calibrate it.

The size of the Bluesmart One is 22″ x 14″ x 9” with a storage space of 34L. Now, I kind of wish I had seen one of these in the stores because when I opened it, I knew there was no way I could pack a weekend pair of clothes inside. My size 13 shoes took up nearly one side of the luggage.  Being highly disappointed and frustrated with the glitchy app, I returned it the same day and got a refund.

 

Why Smart Luggage Isn’t Worth It

GPS Features

In my experience, the GPS feature is pretty worthless. Most people keep their carry-on within eye view and close to them at the airport. The only advantage I see is if the gate agent tells you that have check-in your luggage due to limited overhead bin space. If someone tries to steal your carry-on luggage, you’re going to run after them and not try to look at your app to see where it’s at. Even if it gets stolen, once your smart luggage is out of range from the app, it becomes useless.

 

Luggage Scale

The only reason you would need a built-in scale for carry-on luggage is if you’re flying an airline like WOW Airlines or Norwegian that have strict carry-on weight restrictions. Other than that, there is no need to have the feature built-in.

Most travelers aren’t concerned about their carry-on weight and will pack as much as they can to avoid checking in a bag. Weight is the least of their worries. If you insist having a weight scale, it’s better to buy one so you can weigh in your check in baggage for future trips as well. One that is small and accurate is the Dunhger digital scale.

Digitial Scale vs smart luggage

Digital Scale

 

Built-In Power Bank

The built-in power bank is inconvenient to use. If you’re on the go and low on battery, you can only charge your cell phone or electronics while you’re sitting down. There is no type of instrument on the luggage to secure your electronics while you’re walking through the airport.

Instead of the small 10,400 mAh inside the Bluesmart One, you can buy an affordable Anker power bank. The Anker brand is one of my favorite power banks because it offers quick charge in a compact size. These power banks are much easier to put in your back pocket and continue to use your cell phone if needed.

Anker 10,000 mAh Power Bank vs smart luggage

Anker 10,000 mAh Power Bank

 

A Better Carry-On Luggage Option

Ultimately, I went with the Tumi Tegra Lite International Carry-On as my go-to choice. It had a lot of similar features as my Samsonite had but with much higher quality. As an added bonus, the Tumi is very stylish.

I felt the Bluesmart One smart luggage is too much of a gimmick to attract millennials or tech-savvy travelers. Most of the built-in features of smart luggage are unnecessary when you really think about them. One can easily purchase separate items to accommodate their needs. It all comes down to what makes sense to you in terms of functionality and price.

Tumi Tegra Lite vs smart luggage

Tumi Tegra Lite

 

The Bald Thoughts

Is smart luggage worth it? In my opinion, no. The added features are more of a gimmick than something that is functional. You can save the money and buy similar travel tools that you can move from you carry-on luggage to your backpack or handbag as needed. All-in-one sounds good, but what happens when one of the pieces fail? You’re stuck with “smart luggage” that isn’t so smart. I’d rather buy the components individually so that I can buy them on sale or easily upgrade without having to replace my luggage every time.

The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and have not been reviewed or endorsed by any company or third-party, unless clearly stated otherwise. The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the advertiser. It is not the advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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About the author / 

Charlie Suarez

Charlie spends half the year traveling for work as a marketing manager, which has enabled him to achieve Delta's Diamond status. When he is not in the friendly skies, he’s actively looking for techniques to accumulate points and miles. With a passion for East and South East Asia, Charlie focuses on unique experiences and deals in the region to readers.

5 Comments

  1. mike murphy April 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm -  Reply

    I wonder if the gps transponder in the locate mode interferes with the avionics on planes ?

    ( and how safe are the lith-ion packs in some models ?

    • Lee Huffman April 17, 2017 at 1:40 pm -  Reply

      Mike, you bring up some good points that are even more reason to be cautious with smart luggage.

  2. Christine Odle April 24, 2017 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    My husband bought me a GeniusPack a few years ago. I LOVE IT. My only “complaint” is that he didn’t get the one with spinners. He did buy all the bells and whistles – battery charger, umbrella, etc. I can actually pack for an entire week (I’m not like most girls) and I don’t have size 13 shoes. But, it does work well for my needs.

    • Lee Huffman April 24, 2017 at 3:55 pm -  Reply

      Christine, glad that your smart luggage is working out well for you. I upgraded my 10-year old suitcase last year to one with spinners and cannot believe I waited so long. Rolling up the airplane aisles is so much easier now! I’m not a big fan of multi-function devices like smart luggage, PCs built into a monitor, or anything like that because if technology moves forward or if something breaks (and it will), you’re stuck with an outdated or non-functional component or you have to replace the whole thing. Just seems wasteful to me. It’s a good idea in theory, but impractical in the real world.

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