I Finally Upgraded My Carry-On To This Set From Paravel—Here’s What I Think
This review is not sponsored and contains the author’s personal experience. The Good Trade was gifted this product.
Travel pictures are once again cropping up on my social feeds. Cocktails on the beach, mountain hikes, city street wanderings—I’m finally feeling called to see things for myself once more. And when my husband’s soft-wheeled carry-on broke irreparably during our last trip to see family in the Midwest, we both knew it would soon be time to upgrade our luggage.
Then, in late summer, I had the opportunity to test out a matching luggage set from Paravel. Founded in 2016 by Indré Rockefeller and Andy Krantz, Paravel is a New York City-based brand that I’ve had my eye on ever since I saw its super stylish and super functional travel accessories.
The brand is mindful of the materials it uses in constructing its luggage, opting for recycled polycarbonate, recycled aluminum, and recycled vegan leather for the exterior and recycled plastic water bottles for the inner lining. They offer a decent range of minimalist styles, with several color combinations and monogramming options to choose from. Plus, thanks to Paravel’s carbon offsets, the Aviator luggage line is carbon neutral from production to shipping, and even includes extra offsets to cover emissions for the first flight you take with it.
“Paravel’s Aviator luggage line is carbon neutral from production to shipping, and even includes extra offsets to cover emissions for the first flight you take with it.”
That all sounds great, right? But what really matters is how the luggage holds up to travel—so I put it to the test with my first-ever overseas flight on a two week solo trip to Spain. I went to five cities, traveling by train in between stops and walking to and from the stations and my Airbnbs in each city. That meant often trekking over a mile on cobblestone streets, wheeling my Paravel set the whole way.
My first impressions of Paravel
When my cream and camel-colored set of the Aviator Plus carry-on and Weekender arrived, I rolled them gleefully around my apartment and daydreamed about gliding through airport terminals. The Aviator Plus is a sturdy-feeling hard carry-on designed to fit 4–7 days of clothing and 2–4 pairs of shoes (dimensions are 14.7″ x 22.7″ x 9.6″, or 37.3cm x 56.7cm x 24.4cm, meeting TSA requirements but always worth double checking with your airline). All of Paravel’s hard cases come equipped with a TSA-compliant code lock and feature a compression board (in a zippered pouch), a separate shoe storage compartment that zips shut, and one more small interior zipper pocket. There’s even a separate laundry bag included!
“For easy carrying besides the vegan leather handles, you can attach the weekender easily to the periscoping handle of the Aviator or use the detachable shoulder strap.”
The generously sized weekender fits 1-2 outfits, a wash kit, and a 15” laptop, with TSA-friendly personal item measurements of 15″ x 15″ x 8″ (38.1 cm x 38.1 cm x 20.3 cm). I liked the simplicity of a single top-zip compartment with two zip pockets on the interior. And for easy carrying besides the vegan leather handles, you can attach the weekender easily to the periscoping handle of the Aviator or use the detachable shoulder strap.
Packing winter clothes was a bit of a tight squeeze, so I ended up with a large coat and chunky sweater, four outfits, and waterproof boots, which is slightly less than what the brand says it can fit. My next trip might benefit from packing cubes (which Paravel also sells), but I managed to Tetris everything together in the end.
The biggest issue, in all of my experience with my Paravel luggage, happened during packing—the compression “board” is actually just a plastic frame within a zippered pocket, and it snapped immediately when I went to tighten the straps (could be a user error, but also it’s a pretty flimsy construction). I tried to tape it back together but quickly ditched it because my flight was in four hours.
It didn’t affect my overall experience with the suitcase as the straps still helped minimize the fluff of my clothes, but you might have to fashion your own sturdy insert if you need as much compression as I do. I reached out to the Paravel team about this, and they sent me a replacement! I’ll just want to be a little more careful when I tighten my straps.
How does Paravel hold up to rigorous travel?
From there, though, it really was smooth sailing—this set is so easy to use, and the way it fits together is a major perk when having to navigate on a phone in one hand and carry all my belongings with the other. The 360° bearings on the wheels are so fun compared to the straight-rolling plastic wheels on my old cheap carry-on and can handle long walks in old cities as well as they handle airports. (My biggest fear the whole time was a wheel breakage, which I’m happy to report didn’t happen even when I had to go off-road now and again). This luggage didn’t make me look, outwardly, to be struggling when I wheeled it across town, which allowed me to feel a little safer and less vulnerable in new places.
Except, of course, when one of my Airbnb’s “stairs” turned out to be a little more like a ladder. But I survived!
By the end of my trip, my beautiful beige bag had sustained several scuffs and scratches—which haven’t come off with gentle cleansing, so I may do as the brand suggests and use a magic eraser. The suitcase did come packaged in a soft black canvas cover, which I probably should have popped on when I gate-checked the suitcase at LAX. (Rookie mistake?) Despite the cosmetic damage, I can say that none of my belongings were damaged in my travels, even when I had to book it a mile across town in the rain.
To be fair to the carry-on, I’ve also sustained my own scuffs and scratches from a couple of faceplants in Madrid and Sevilla; I think it all just comes with the territory of traveling outside our comfort zones.
“The Aviator Plus weighs 8.5 lbs empty, and the Weekender weighs 2.4 lbs, which can add up if you’re not a light packer.”
My luggage weighed over 50 lbs by the end of the trip, thanks to my love of collecting Spanish magazines, ticket stubs, and sea glass. But the luggage itself *is* heavier than I’m used to—the Aviator Plus weighs 8.5 lbs empty, and the Weekender weighs 2.4 lbs, which can add up if you’re not a light packer. I relied on help from a few good samaritans to help lift my luggage a couple of times, but my luggage always fit in overhead airplane containers and luggage racks on the trains.
How much does Paravel luggage cost?
And now, like all my reviews, I come to cost—and actually, this is a rare time where I’m okay with a higher price tag. The Aviator Plus costs $375, and the slightly smaller standard Aviator costs $350. The Weekender, which is extremely classy and fun to carry, costs $295. I see myself using both of these pieces for at least ten years, if not many more. (I used my last suitcase, a $50 carry-on from Amazon, for ten years.)
Prices do get higher based on your specific travel wants and needs—like if you prefer monogrammed pieces (which are cute, but I personally wouldn’t spring the money for the addition). Or, if you travel with checked baggage frequently, the Aviator Grand costs $425. I can’t foresee myself ever needing the largest option from Paravel or any brand, but you might be different.
If you’re not ready to invest that heavily I’d recommend starting with one of the Aviator carry-ons and using your usual backpack or duffel as a personal item. You can bundle items to save a bit if you need to upgrade all your luggage at once, though. Just keep an eye on sales, which can happen around key US holidays and Black Friday.
“I can happily recommend this luggage […] having a reliable carry-on made a huge difference for me while navigating unfamiliar cities and language barriers all on my own.”
I can happily recommend this luggage, especially if you’re setting off on adventures that will bring you face-to-face with the unexpected. It might sound a bit dramatic, but having a reliable carry-on made a huge difference for me while navigating unfamiliar cities and language barriers on my own.
For now, as I plan my next trip with my husband, he’ll use my old soft carry-on until that one breaks, too. But I hope in the coming year or two to gift him a set of his own Paravel luggage—or at the very least an Aviator carry-on—so he can experience the same smooth travels as I have.
- The wheels are my favorite thing about this Paravel’s luggage; I could navigate airports, cobblestone streets, and slick, rainy sidewalks with ease, even when they were supporting up to 50 lbs. They were a dream.
- The luggage is made using recycled materials, and Paravel makes some of the most stylish pieces I’ve seen—I didn’t see many other sets quite like mine in the airport. I felt so good carrying this set!
- The compression “board” is just a plastic frame that broke when I attempted to tighten the compression straps, and the hard case carry-on is a bit heavy, although neither of those issues is a dealbreaker for how much I like this luggage.
Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits and cat, or gaming.