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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.