tz essentials: the best carry-on luggage

Last week, I enjoyed a quick jaunt to San Francisco with the fabulous team from Zephyr.  It was inspiring, educational and loads of fun.  I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

Traci Zeller Essentials BannerThe holiday season is quickly approaching, however, and that means travel for many of us.  Newly rejuvenated by my cross-country trip, I thought it was high time to share a travel-related favorite.  After all, my mission is to make family-centered lives simpler and more stylish … and these days there’s not much about travel that is either simple or stylish!   Fortunately, I have a few tricks up my sleeve — and that’s what inspired my “tz essentials” blog series.

San Francisco FlightBefore I got married, my job required near-constant travel.  I generally flew out on Sunday evenings and returned home on Thursday evenings.  In other words, I had more airline miles and hotel points than I knew what to do with!  Although I’ll admit the impromptu trip to Paris turned out nicely.  Because I was constantly on-the-go — and usually traveling with a team of mostly men — checking luggage was seriously Not. Cool.  It’s not, however, easy to pack for five days and somehow fit in a laptop and workout clothes.  Luggage selection was everything!  At the time, I bought a fantastic and perfectly sized suitcase — but as the carry-on requirements have changed and luggage has improved, I’ve revisited my choice.

SwissGear Zurich 20 Spinner Carry-OnFor the last several years, the SwissGear 20″ “Zurich” Pilot Case has stood the test of time … and I can’t imagine using anything else!  The separate (and padded) laptop compartment and exterior pockets make it super-easy to comply with those pesky TSA requirements.  (Yes, yes, I know they are for our own good, but it is still a pain in the rear to take out your laptop and 3-1-1 compatible liquids at security.)  A mesh interior pocket holds undergarments, and two shoe compartments hold either shoes (duh) or hair brush and flat iron (my personal choice).

Tote with Chanel-Inspired SeatingIf I’m smart about what I choose — hello, capsule wardrobe — I can pack for a week using just this suitcase and one of my beloved totes.   For me, totes are a daily necessity.  After all, I am a twin mom; there’s no telling what I’m carrying at any one time!  Socks, golf balls, undies — it’s all happened.  

SwissGear Zurich 20 Pilot Case InteriorIn my book, one of the biggest selling points is the very reasonable price tag.  Why is this so important?  After all, my mantra is “buy quality and you only cry once.”  Well, let’s just say my husband is on his second suitcase from a very nice brand.  When the first suitcase mysteriously disappeared between international customs at the airport in Washington, D.C. and his arrival in Charlotte, he filed a report with the airline.  Upon hearing what brand the suitcase was, the airline employee said ….. “OH.”  As in, there’s no way you are getting that back, buddy.  And he didn’t.  Fast-forward a couple of years and my husband — who travels a lot — invested in another suitcase from the same brand.  While looking out the window on his flight yesterday, he saw his suitcase thrown onto the ramp to the airplane and tumble off — in pouring rain  – then get picked back off the ground and thrown back onto the ramp.

Chanel Camellia SunglassesIn other words,  there is no Tender Loving Care among baggage handlers.  That’s why I’d rather invest in a great handbag or pair of sunglasses that I can keep with me!  It’s all about the high-low, baby.  Wink.

SwissGear Pilot Case PewterWhile writing this post, I saw some reviews that indicated the wheels may mean that the bag does not fit into the airline sizer.  I have the exact model shown above, minus the spinner wheels — dang, I need an upgrade — and I’ve never had a problem stashing it on board any airplane except puddle jumpers.  With the near-constant changes we face from the airlines and TSA, however, it’s impossible to guarantee anything!  Plus, if you enjoy shopping while on vacation (clearing throat now), you may need to use the expandable sides for your trip home.  Hence, the reason I need a bag that can be both carried on and checked.

Happy traveling!

I bought mine at a local Target, but it is also available online at Amazon, Overstock, Target, Kohls, and many more.    I chose Pewter so it’s easier to find at baggage claim!  Product photos via SwissGear’s online retailers.  I’m crazy about Chanel’s gray square camellia sunglasses. My next pair?!     


tzd book club: positively chic interiors

Y’all, it’s way past time for another installment of the tzd book club.  I’ve exercised my “Buy with 1-Click” reflexes (read: my most impressive muscle tone) and enjoyed some quality uninterrupted time (read: cross-country nonstop flight sans twins) — which means I have so much to talk about.  Does it count as blogging if I mentally write the post but never physically publish it?  Oops.  Promise I’ll get better about that.

Positively Chic Interiors Carrier and CompanyNext up?  Positively Chic Interiors, the first book from the husband-and-wife duo Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, otherwise known as Carrier and Company.   Jesse and Mara create chic and timeless interiors that are a deeply personal reflection of its occupants.   Their clients include fashion luminaries like Anna Wintour, Jason Wu and Annie Leibovitz, and they have been named to both Architectural Digest’s AD100 list (twice!) and Elle Decor’s A-List.  Amazing, right?

As you would expect, every image in the book is flat-out gorgeous.  I especially love that you cannot sum up “the Carrier and Company look” in a few short words.  Elegantly traditional?  Check.  Luxuriously minimalist?  Check. Glamorously bohemian?  Check.  Yet again.

Timelessness Is the Love Child of Modern and Traditional Carrier and CompanyPerhaps the best part of Positively Chic Interiors, however, is that Jesse and Mara’s words are as inspiring as their designs.  I’ve always puzzled over the variety of descriptions I hear and read about my own aesthetic.  Some people consider my interiors super traditional.  Yet I’ve also been described as modern.  Neither of those resonated perfectly with me, however, and now I know why.  In the words of Jessie and Mara, “we think that when it comes to design and decorating, timelessness is the love child of modern and traditional.  Like our modern interiors, our timeless rooms embrace and celebrate visual crispness and clarity.  Yet they meld that cleanness and precision with the hues, the familiar forms, and the rich textures that speak of tradition.  And by definition, they eschew the trendy.”  Amen.

Oh, and the binding is off-white with red metallic ink, and the red endsheets look as though they’ve been lacquered.  Yep, positively chic.

Yippee!  Thanks to the generosity of The Vendome Press, I received a copy to review and I have a copy to send to a lucky reader.  Simply “like” my Instagram post (@tracizeller) or comment below, and you’ll be entered to win!

Book cover photo by Brantley Photography via    

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