Most of TIRL’s readers are family, friends, and colleagues (THANK YOU for being loyal fans!). As a result, most of you know about my former life as a tennis player. For any readers that don’t fall into the above categories (I love you guys too!), I’ll provide some brief context. My parents put a tennis racquet in my hand at five years old, and I held onto it for the next 20 years. Those 20 years were filled with ups and downs, wins and losses, and smiles and tears. But I can say without a doubt that tennis has shaped the course of my life. It has taken me places, introduced me to people, and created opportunities that would never have been possible if my parents hadn’t given me that metal Wilson tennis racquet many moons ago. Now, that’s not to say that soccer, or science camp, or piano wouldn’t have done the same, but I’m eternally grateful to them for pointing me in the direction that they did and sacrificing their time, resources, and (often) their sanity to help me achieve my dreams.
Left: An all too common exasperated look; Right: Our 2004 NCAA Championship team
Fast forward to 2017. These days I still pick up a racquet every now and then. Tennis is incredibly good exercise. And it’s fun. And I’m still pretty good at it. Most importantly, I know there will come a day when my body will no longer be able to physically perform at the level it can now, so I want to milk my “youth” for as long as I can. However, “playing tennis” has a vastly different meaning now than it did 15 years ago. Now it usually means hitting the ball around or occasionally playing a couple of sets. It does NOT mean playing tournaments or anything that is even remotely competitive. The one exception I make is a member-guest tournament in Southampton, NY at one of the nicest grass court clubs you’ll ever see. You might think that a trip to The Hamptons is reason enough to lace up the sneakies and drag myself out of retirement. Well, you’ll be happy to hear that I’m not THAT shallow and that it’s a little more special than that. I’ve been playing the tournament with the same partner for the past 14 years. He’s now 80 years old and I can only hope that my body, mind, and spirit for life (and tennis!) hold up the way his has. Our partnership started when I was teaching tennis in college and has survived three moves (me), business school (me), and a variety of injuries (both of us). As the years have passed, Fred has become more like family than just someone I high-five on the tennis court. It truly is one of the most special weekends of every summer.
Despite the fact that the weekend is jam-packed full of tennis, we do manage to soak in (almost) everything that Southampton has to offer. You can scroll down to the bottom of the post to see a little of it. But let’s just say that we thoroughly enjoy living like the 1% for a few days.
Traveling as much as we did this summer meant living out of a suitcase for most of it. I’ve never owned “nice” luggage, and anything I possess consists of hand-me-down bags that my Mom no longer wants. But generally, that has worked well enough. Sure there have been times where I got a sticky wheel or a broken zipper, or I wished I had a bag that was a little bigger or a little smaller, but I never cared enough to actually spend money on something new. Luggage is a very adult thing to buy for yourself. Or in other words, a very boring thing to buy for yourself. And I like to buy myself cool stuff. Luggage isn’t cool. It isn’t sexy. It isn’t fun. It perfectly represents a need rather than a want. Until now. Enter the Away suitcase.
The Away brand first caught my eye on Instagram (maybe those ads really do work!?). The branding, marketing, photos — everything was on point. Away is one of those brands that people become genuinely loyal to. I can’t really articulate why, but I know one when I see one. And Away just “gets it”. After seeing their ads a few more times over the past year and recently hearing one of my favorite podcasters talk about it, I started to get this strange feeling…I wanted to buy this suitcase. I’ve never felt that way about any piece of luggage, and I’m sure most of you haven’t either. So I finally checked out their website. Since I’m a big reviews person I went straight to the bottom of the product page, and as I suspected, the reviews were glowing. People gushed over this SUITCASE the way they gush over an iPhone or a fancy new piece of jewelry. It seemed that someone had finally found a way to make luggage cool. Go figure.
I bought The Bigger Carry-On ($245), and the size has been perfect. It looks like a standard carry-on bag. I chose it over The Carry-On because the smaller one was a bit too tiny (remember, I’m an over-packer). I also sprung for the monogramming because it’s fun. It cost me a few extra bucks ($50), but I have been impressed with the look and quality of the lettering. The only reason I didn’t buy a sticker was because I wanted to make sure I liked the bag first. You can bet that my next Away bag will be alllll stickered-up. Away suitcases come in a bunch of other colors and sizes as well. I figured if I liked this one I would snag one of the larger bags to use as a checked-bag — it has already been added to my Christmas list.
Keep scrolling for a bunch of thumbnail photos of the bag and its features. Click on any of them to enlarge!
ALSO, use my referral code link http://fbuy.me/fWyGc and get $20 off (good for the first 20 people!)
What I Love
Balance + Weight — you know how most carry-ons topple over at the most inopportune times? Not here. The suitcase is also surprisingly lightweight. Thank goodness considering I’m always teetering within 0.05 lbs of the airport’s baggage weight limit.
360 Wheels — the wheels on my old bag felt like they were covered in glue and tangled hair. These, they’re like butta.
TSA Locks — I don’t know the likelihood of someone actually stealing something out of my bag (let alone a carry-on), but I find the lock nifty nonetheless. See video on our Instagram page!
Built-in Charging Ports — you will no longer be held prisoner by the 2-3 awkwardly placed electrical outlets in the every airport terminal. You do have to charge the suitcase every now and then but Away includes a charger. It will charge your iPhone 5x on a single charge, and an iPad more than once. You can also take the entire battery out (screwdriver needed). This feature does NOT come on all models, so make sure to read the product descriptions on their website carefully.
Dirty Laundry Bag — I TRY to workout when I travel, and if I do, I end up with gross, sweaty clothes. This laundry bag is genius. It’s waterproof and rolls up nicely inside of the bag when not in use.
Compression Straps — I love these. With them, I feel there’s no limit to how many times I can say “let me see if I can fit one more shirt in here…”
100 Day Trial — my feeling is that a company that is supremely confident in its product can and will offer this type of warranty. I doubt many people take advantage of it.
Lifetime Guarantee (except the battery, which has a 2-year warranty) — again, nice that Away throws this in, even if just for peace of mind.
What I (sort of) Don’t Love
I can’t think of much here, other than that the outside of the suitcase does gather some noticeable scuffs over time. It’s inevitable, and I wouldn’t avoid buying one because of that, but it’s just sooo beautiful when it’s scratch free! I WOULD recommend buying one of the darker colors — I imagine the lighter colors likely get beat up even more.
*Away’s FAQ section is helpful for anything I didn’t answer in enough detail!