When a carry on just doesn’t do the job…


Thanks to the great folks over at American Luggage who are sponsoring this post!

How many of you have waited until the night before (or, ahem morning of) a flight to throw things into a bag and hope that you’re a good “flinger” and that something you flung into the suitcase comes out as an outfit and looks halfway presentable. Now, typically I’m a very Type A, planned out, checklist oriented and organized person. But, for some unknown reasons… this time was different. We all get a pass from time to time, right?

An alternate title for this blog post could be “and, how large does that suitcase come?” I used to travel for work, a LOT. Like, a lot. I had my “go bag” down. Mostly black (so it all matches) with a few neutrals throw in to break it up, one pair of heels, two pairs of flats, a bag of every beauty item I need in travel size, workout clothes, all tightly packed into a carry on with a fully loaded laptop bag (come to think of it, I’ll do a blog post carry on essentials… stay tuned!). And that worked when I was representing a fashion company … but traveling for vacation + a wedding to Hawaii calls for a different wardrobe line up. And a LOT more room in a suitcase.

When I knew that we’d both have to pack for three days into one suitcase… I was thanking my luck stars that the “outfit” needed for Hawaii, bathing suit and flip flops, doesn’t take up much space. Now, I love to travel and I’m lucky enough to do my fare share. I traveled a LOT for work for a long time and now we’re good about taking short trips here and there and I tag along to work trips with the Mr. as much as I can but rarely require a “checked luggage size” so when I started my research I was shocked by how expensive a quality, good looking piece of luggage this size could be! There’s a fine balance between an investment piece (read, expensive) versus finding a durable, reliable suitcase that’s affordable and not going to fall apart after one trip. Or worse yet, ON a trip! (yes, that’s happened to me and no it wasn’t fun). Thankfully, the team over at American Traveler asked if I wanted to partner on a post to test and showcase out their 29″ rolling hardcover suitcase!

Believe it or not, shopping for luggage can be hard and if you’re anything like me you start at good old Amazon checking what’s available, checking out the various features and doo dads that you didn’t know existed on a suitcase (or that you needed until that moment and have been missing all your life), pricing out various options and typically removing the doo dad touting luggage from the “I can afford this” list and reading as many reviews as possible.

Dear friends, I bring good news. There is a suitcase that is not only durable and affordable but can makes you feel sleek and sophisticated while wheeling it AND you won’t have to mortgage your house and offer up your first born to secure. Below is my full review and pictures.

Link to purchase the luggage on Amazon: American American Traveler 29″ Suitcase


At about $170 retail on Amazon.com this suitcase impressed me with its durability while traveling, capacity of what we were able to pack and the ease of it’s movement with the 8 spinner wheels. I think it’s a classy touch that it comes with a vinyl protection bag.

The 8 spinner wheels made it a complete breeze to navigate the airport. It’s outer casing (made of ABS-Polycarbonate thermoplastic) proved quite durable on our first trip with this suitcase- no dings or scratched! Both the top and side handles seemed very hearty when grabbing them to hoist the bag up and the sliver color made it easy to spot our bag right away when it came down the baggage carousel.

The exact measurements of the 29” suitcase are 20.3”H x 11.02” W x 31.3”D.  It weighs about 12.8 lb when it’s completely empty. There is a heavy duty handle on the top and size of the case and it’s 8 spinner wheels gave it a truly effortless 360 mobility. My husband and I are both on the taller side so the telescoping handle was a comfortable height for both of us (5’9” and 6’3”). The three size clasps that secure the suitcase closed are very sturdy and it comes with both a regular combination lock you can set as well as a TSA lock.

The interior of the bag was quite spacious with a hand center flap to help secure each side for closing the suitcase. The other clam shell suitcase I mentioned before has little to no structure so it’s a royal pain in the ass to load each side up then try to zip it closed. This one was super easy- just pack each side, secure the center divider and zip it closed. No cursing? No need to meditate or drink tea to calm myself down afterward!? Amazon! The hard shell suitcases like this don’t offer a lot of room for expansion- but that wasn’t an issue as both my husband and I packed EVERYTHING we need for three days (including running shoes, multiple outfits, curling iron, golf shoes, both of our toiletries bags, snacks, etc.) and there was plenty of room.

I was impressed at the condition that the suitcase arrived in. The large box had foam padding around the corners to protect it during shipment. as well as a clear vinyl protection bag with velcro closures at the bottom- like a dust bag that comes with a nice pair of shoes or an expensive purse. I’d never seen a suitcase arrive so well packed- and we have one other clam shell hard cover style suitcase and I’m pretty sure that thing was Ace Ventura style kicked to our front door and left for dead. Honesty, that other suitcase made me really dislike clam shells but this suitcase actually made me like them!

I am used to traveling with the cloth suitcases (versus this type of clam shell) and being able to just open the top and shove things into it (scarf, cables I realize I don’t need right before I check my bag, sunglasses, etc.) and you can’d do this with the clam shells. They also don’t offer the front zip pockets that I’m accustomed to with the cloth suitcases but that is more of a stylistic preference of what your specific packing needs are. The overall durability of this suitcase wins for me over exterior pockets.

I’m very happy with this suitcase after this first trip. This is a great option for those that need a durable suitcase but can’t afford the Briggs & Riley or Tumi versions. Large, durable, looks stylish and sleek and I just love that it comes with the vinyl protection bag.

Hawaiian Poke & Ginger Ono Sashimi

Sam-Style Poke Aloha! We’re celebrating my parents 30th anniversary in  Hawaiian WARMTH and relaxing style! (For some reason they decided to invite us along, so we bought our plane tickets before they had time to change their minds!)

While relaxation is the name of this game, there are a few things I wanted to do: paddle board, sleep, eat my weight in pineapple and consume as much fresh fish and shrimp as I can possibly hold! Browsing around the ABC store in Downtown Kona (We needed to stock up on some “beverages” for our beach happy hour) Mom came across Sam Choy’s Little Hawaiian Cookbook for Big Appetites and it had some delicious looking recipes so we picked it up and had a tried a few for our sunset picnic at the beach! 

And here is a shot of our Beach Picnic! IMG_0794

Sam Stye Poke (Photo from Recipe Book)
Sam Stye Poke (Photo from Recipe Book)

Sam-Style Poke

Serves 8

2/3 c Sam’s Secret Sauce (see below)
2 lbs finely diced ‘ahi (yellowfin tuna)
4 tsp ‘inamona (which is crushed and roasted kukui nuts, can sub 4-6 tsp crushed cashews for same taste)
1 c rinsed and chopped ogo (seaweed)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce

Sam’s Secret Sauce

2 c water

2 tbsp Hawaiian Salt
2 Hawaiian chili peppers, finely chopped (or red pepper flakes)

Make Sam’s Secret Sauce first by combining all ingredients and stirring until salt dissolves and set aside (not heated, just mix at room temperature). Cut the ‘ahi into chunks, no more than an inch square. Sometimes ‘ahi has white bands, or strings, of fat and with the raw fish you’ll want to remove some of this if you can so you might have to determine the size of the poke around whatever size results after removing the strings.  Combine ‘ahi with ‘inamona (or crushed cashews), ogo (seaweed), sesame oil, and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly. Add Sam’s secret sauce and marinate for 60 minutes in refrigerator.

There are a few ways you can serve this dish but we found that serving on rustic bread, cut into “serving sizes” and toasted in the oven was by far the most delicious! Just make sure they’re not TOO done… some of ours came out a bit too toasted and scraped our mouths! You could also serve on cucumber slices!

Ginger Ono
Ginger Ono

Ginger Ono

Serves 6 

Local Pepe’ekeo Dip
1/2 c oil 

1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c ginger, minced
1/4 c green onion, minced
1/4 c lightly packed Chinese Parsley, minced (We used Cilantro and it was delicious)
1/8 tsp White Pepper
1/4 Tsp red pepper flakes or 1 fresh Hawaiian chili pepper, minced

1 lb Raw Ono
1 1/2 c assorted sprouts
1/2 cup Local Pepe’ekeo Dip (recipe above)

Make the Local Pepe’ekeo Dip first.

In a small sauce pan heat the oil then add the salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in garlic, ginger, green onions, Chinese Parsley/Cilantro, white pepper and red peppers. Chill. To serve, thinly Slice raw ono. Line small platter or individual plates with sprouts of our choice. Arrange ono slices on sprouts. Spook the Local Pepe’ekeo Dip over the fish and serve chilled.