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Edwards Luggage & Flight 001

Exciting Pre-Vacation Destinations

Summer always sparks the wanderlust in me. I don't know if it's the constant stream of tourists with dazed faces I see all day wheeling their luggage past the cable car turnaround or my need to escape the summer fog that inspires me to pack my own bag and head out on my next adventure. Though I live in one of the top tourist destinations in the world, even I need to go and see what the rest of the planet has to offer. My favorite part of preparing for my journey is checking out new carryalls and contraptions at the luggage stores, making travel shopping a destination in itself.

The days of steamer trunks and bulky Samsonite cases have long passed, and it's about time to rethink that basic black soft-sided carry-on with rollers you have that you can't seem to recognize among the hundred other look-alikes rotating in baggage claim. College-age backpackers, weekend sojourners and experienced business travelers have an extensive range of choices. Though luggage itself can be expensive, it's worth it to carefully select the right piece to stash your stuff, as it will be your constant traveling companion for years to come. Edwards Luggage and Flight 001 are both great places to check out the goods.

Located in downtown San Francisco's Three Embarcadero Center since 1977 is Edwards Luggage. With one of the Bay Area's widest selections of luggage, business cases, wallets, travel accessories and their own line of Edwards Exclusives, Edwards Luggage provides everything you could need or want to tote your goods and ease your excursion. Though Edwards Luggage has an old-school elegant feeling, they carry not only business-ready baggage such as TUMI's Wheeled 22" Frequent Traveler for $495.00, but also the more weekender-friendly Victorinox Large Deluxe Cargo Duffel in bold blue for $99.99.

Owner Randy MacKenzie is a suitcase expert. She grew up living and breathing the family luggage business, which has been around for almost 60 years. She, her brother and sister are the second generation of the family that now runs Edwards Luggage's four Bay Area locations.

According to Randy, packing organizers are some of the most popular items with both professionals and backpackers alike, such as the Pack-It Cube from Eagle Creek for $14.00, which make it easier to find what you need without tearing through your pile of socks and pants. And if you are picked for a security check, you can spare yourself the embarrassment of a luggage screener picking through your mess of dirty laundry as your items will be easy to see and sort through in these containers.

Speaking of dirty laundry, you can pick up disposable cotton socks and underwear from OneDerWear ($9.95 for a five-pack of socks, $9.00 for a five-pack of underwear) if you'd like to toss your undergarments instead of bringing the dirty stuff home. Also an easy way to make a little room for those souvenirs you schlep back for the folks.

When it comes to securing your valuables while you are traveling, there are a range of options other than the usual undercover neck pouches or belts, such as Zip-It socks with a zippered pouch for $12.95 a pair so you can stuff your valuables in your stocking without fishing around at the bottom of your sweaty shoe. For your luggage, Edwards carries the Presto TSA Approved Searchalert Locks for $10.00, allowing inspectors to check the contents of your bag, while keeping it secure from anyone else who might come upon it while it is out of your sight. There's also an indicator button to alert you when your luggage has been opened.

Over on Hayes Street in Hayes Valley is Flight 001, named after the flight number of the defunct airline Pan-Am's route that circled the globe westward from San Francisco to New York. Walking into this three-year-old store is like stepping into the hull of a 747 jetliner. Display shelves take the place of overhead compartments stocked with cosmetics, carry-on bags, guide books, aromatherapy products, stationery, electronics, travel accessories and more from stylish designers such as Mandarina Duck from Italy, the colorful Tepper Jackson and Flight 001's own line of custom products. Purchases are made at a register desk resembling a check-in counter.

Owners Brad John and John Sencion traveled extensively previously for their jobs as merchandisers and designers for Sahara menswear, and found that most luggage wasn't stylish or cutting edge enough for their tastes. On a business trip to Paris, they hatched their plan to bring fashionable fare to the traveling masses. Though they launched their first store over six years ago in New York, San Francisco's store was the first to bear airplane-influenced design, later repeated in their newest store a year and a half ago in Los Angeles.

Flight 001 stocks a collection of unique and stylish travel gear, including a duct tape wallet for $22.00 and a multicolored polka-dot Tepper Jackson luggage tag for $12.00. If you want to make a bold statement with your baggage, you can pick up the sharp silver trolley from Japanese designer Hideo Wakamatsu for $340.00. For bland airline meals that need a little flavor, pack the Mobile Foodie Survival Kit with over 20 spices consisting of basics such as salt and pepper to the livelier wasabi and tobasco sauce for $30.00. Packed in silver foil packets on the wall are Flight 001's essentials -- everything you could need to make your pre-flight, in-flight and arrival experience more comfortable, including simple yet invaluable items such as earplugs, a first aid kit or an extra laptop cord for $12.00.

Regardless of where you choose to go, a trip down to either of these stores is bound to fire up your imagination and prepare you for wherever your travels take you.