From the humble holdall keeping your hands full, to the ultimate travel companion taking centre stage, we’ve come a long way in what accompanies us on our jet setting. And with more space, ease, and connectivity coming from our smart luggage, we’ve come a long way in how we travel. As homage to the past, we take a look at how the carry-on luggage reveals the way we now navigate through our trips of today.

in second place

Unlike today, hand luggage used to be exactly that: a bag, small and light enough to carry by hand. And with most items checked in with your main case, the carry-on was more an add-on than the main travel partner. What’s more, wheeled luggage only gained popularity in the late 1980s – thanks to pilot Robert Plath – so packing space remained limited, never mind the thought of taking a trip with hand luggage alone.

from hand to wheel

After the rise of rolling luggage, the four-wheeler soon made its debut. Long gone were the days of having to haul your case by hand: travel became an easier process to roll on through, and the birth of budget airlines made frequent flier miles faster to collect. Here's to navigating the world with ease.

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With more accessible and cheaper travel, the weekend getaway and business trip became the norm. And at the same time, long check-in queues became a no-go for the frequent flier, as the process had to be fast and smooth. Cue: the carry-on taking centre stage. With enough space to tide us over a long weekend, the need for hold luggage on short trips lessened, and for the first time, cabin bags often became the main travel companion.

power to the people

As the art of packing light is mastered by the well-practised traveller, another pastime become equally as important: the art of staying connected on the go. Sharing our experiences with those near and far, and using our devices for everything from music to our flight ticket called for luggage to step up. Soon, our luggage became smart for us, complete with GPS tracking, integrated charger in tow, the works.

the world at your fingertips…

...literally. A globalised world has not only given us the freedom to travel almost anywhere, but also made global resources all the more accessible. What used to be a large trunk made from select materials – mostly leather and wood – can now be designed with the best wheels from Japan, or premium leather trims sourced in Italy. The carry-on of today is both designed to effortlessly go globally where we go, and is in itself a product rooted in journeys from around the world.

WHAT TO PACK