The luggage company promises to make packing and traveling simple—one thoughtful suitcase at a time.
When two travel aficionados decided they were fed up with subpar carry-on luggage, the duo came together to launch a premium brand of smart suitcases with one goal in mind: make travel easier.
Together, the former Warby Parker execs Jen Rubio and Steph Korey created one of the most beloved luggage brands on the market: Away. The design decisions—durable rotating wheels, a lightweight outer shell, built-in phone charger, and TSA-approved lock, coupled with price tags that won’t make you gasp and an aesthetic that will make you swoon—are based on an almost year-long research process of what would make the perfect smart luggage for all types of travelers.
We spoke to Rubio and Korey about how they created the ever-trendy luggage company; read on for the inside scoop, then take a peek at the Away carry-ons you should consider.
Why did you decide to make luggage?
“We are both travelers,” says Rubio. “Our interest in luggage stemmed from not having great luggage. I had a lightbulb moment when my suitcase broke in the Geneva airport. Two of the four wheels broke—the ones across from each other—so I couldn’t even use it as a normal two-wheel roller. I went to this luggage store in the airport and asked for the best quality bag there and it turned out to be something like 700 euros. It seemed ridiculous to have to buy something that cost that much and have no relationship with the brand. I talked to Steph about it, and we realized that there wasn’t anything out there for people who travel in a more modern way. It’s not an industry that traditionally has focused on the customer experience or design.”
How did you make design decisions?
“We went through a long consumer insights discovery process—we interviewed hundreds or maybe even thousands of people. We really wanted to make this bag perfect for everyone, so we asked: ‘What are your frustrations when traveling?’ People don’t necessarily know the answer to a question like, ‘What would make luggage perfect for you?’ But if you ask them about how they travel, that’s when you can glean insights,” says Rubio.
“We went through a long consumer insights discovery process—we interviewed hundreds or maybe even thousands of people. We really wanted to make this bag perfect for everyone.”
“We asked people about the most annoying things they encounter in the airport, and a lot of people said it was battling with strangers for an outlet. So we added charging ports to the bag. We asked about laundry, and one thing we heard a lot was that it’s sort of gross when your dirty socks are touching the shirt you’re wearing tomorrow. So we added an attached—but removable—laundry compartment.”
What are your personal favorite features?
“I love the wheels. It took seven iterations to get them perfect. They’re made by the Japanese designer Hinomoto. These wheels just don’t exist on luggage under $1,000—except for ours,” Rubio explains.
“My favorite part is the attention to detail,” says Korey. “Normally luggage uses cheaper zippers—because these bags have a lot of zippers—and they break. Our zippers, on the other hand, are super durable. We also use a very lightweight, durable shell. So it’s strong, but it’s not a struggle to get it into the overhead bin.”
The Away luggage we love:
All Away smart suitcases come with a 100-day trial and lifetime warranty, which means that you can return yours within 100 days of purchase—and after 100 days, if any part of your Away bag breaks, the smart luggage company will fix or replace it. You can buy Away suitcases in a variety of stylish colors and convenient sizes, but we particularly love the brand’s carry-on luggage. Learn more about them below:
The Carry-On features two compartments: one designed for clothes, the other for shoes, toiletries, and other hard objects. On the inside, a nylon laundry bag separates clean and dirty clothes. On the exterior, an impenetrable shell and a TSA-approved lock keep your possessions safe. The Carry-On bag also has 360° rotating wheels and an ejectable battery—compliant with TSA and airline policies—that can charge your phone on the go. ($225)
The Bigger Carry-On with Pocket
The Bigger Carry-On with Pocket bag boasts the same travel-friendly features as The Carry-On, like an ejectable battery with a USB port to charge your phone and a TSA-approved combination lock. But, as its name suggests, this smart suitcase also offers a few more inches of interior space and an extra special feature: a built-in front pocket made of water-resistant nylon that fits a 15-inch laptop or iPad and can also store your phone, passport, and boarding pass. ($295)
This article originally appeared online in November 2015; it was updated on August 16, 2018, to include current information.
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